State Bar Complaint - Immunity


D.A.R. v. R.E.L., D.H., and R.H., [Ms. 1151080, Sept. 7, 2018] __ So. 3d __ (Ala. 2018). This per curiam decision affirms the Baldwin Circuit Court’s dismissal of claims brought by D.A.R., a licensed practicing Alabama attorney, against two individuals who filed a Bar complaint against him and against R.E.L., an assistant general counsel of the Alabama State Bar who prosecuted the claim against D.A.R. Ms. *2. D.A.R. alleged that complainant D.H. and R.E.L. were involved in a sexual relationship at the time D.H. and R.H. filed the Bar complaint against D.A.R. D.A.R. alleged R.E.L. should have recused himself from handling the Bar complaint. Ibid.

Based upon Rule 15(a) of the Rules of Disciplinary Procedure, the Court held that D.H. and R.H. were entitled to absolute immunity from suit, regardless of the allegedly “false and malicious nature” of the Bar complaint. Ms. *17.

The Court also affirmed the circuit court’s dismissal of the claims against R.E.L. on the ground of quasi-judicial immunity. The Court held that the plaintiff effectively abandoned arguments concerning the proper application of quasi-judicial immunity under state law by discussing precedents on appeal applying federal-law quasi-judicial immunity in actions under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Ms. *34. The Court explained “in other words, D.A.R. has shifted his argument as to quasi-judicial immunity from the argument he presented to the trial court, and he has failed to demonstrate the trial court erred by dismissing his complaint on the grounds he presented to it.” Ms. *35, citing Snider v. Morgan, 113 So. 3d 643, 655 (Ala. 2012) (holding arguments made to the trial court but not made on appeal are waived).

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