Judicial Immunity – Citation of Authority In Mandamus Petitions

Ex parte Tom F. Young, Jr., et al., [Ms. 1200184, Oct. 29, 2021] __ So. 3d __ (Ala. 2021). The Court (Stewart, J.; Parker, C.J., and Sellers, Mendheim, and Mitchell, JJ., concur; Bolin, Shaw, Wise, and Bryan, JJ., concur in the result) issues a writ of mandamus to the Randolph Circuit Court requiring dismissal of Danny Foster’s claims against a current and former circuit judge arising from actions of the judges in criminal cases against Foster. The Court holds that

The doctrine of judicial immunity shields judicial officers from liability for actions taken while acting in their judicial capacity, and it extends even to actions taken by judicial officers that are done in error, maliciously, or in excess of their authority. See Stump v. Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349, 356 (1978); Ex parte City of Greensboro, 948 So. 2d at 542; and Almon v. Gibbs, 545 So. 2d 18, 20 (Ala. 1989). As this Court has stated, “[a] judge acting in his or her judicial capacity must enjoy freedom from risk of a lawsuit, lest the administration of justice be inhibited by fear of personal liability.” City of Bayou La Batre v. Robinson, 785 So. 2d 1128, 1133 (Ala. 2000)(citing Dennis v. Sparks, 449 U.S. 24, 31 (1980)).

Ms. *12.

The Court denies mandamus petitions filed by Chris May, Randolph Circuit Clerk, and her former employee Lindley. The Court acknowledges that “judicial immunity extends to the discretionary judicial acts of clerks of court and magistrates.” Ms. *15. However, the Court concludes “Foster’s claim against May and Lindley seeks to compel the performance of an administrative duty [because] they have not made any assertion that they exercised any judgment or discretion in regard to processing Foster’s requests for records.” Ms. *19.

The Court also observed with respect to mandamus proceedings: “[t]his Court has stated that, ‘[i]f anything, the extraordinary nature of a writ of mandamus makes the Rule 21 requirement of citation to authority even more compelling than the Rule 28 requirement of citation to authority in a brief on appeal.’ Ex parte Showers, 812 So. 2d 277, 281 (Ala. 2001).” Ms. *9.

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