This language opened Justice Douglas' stinging dissent in the 1967 United States Supreme Court decision of Pierson v. Ray, holding that section 1983 of the Civil Rights Act did not abolish the common law doctrine of judicial immunity. Eleven years later, the Court expanded and redefined the scope of the doctrine of judicial immunity in Stump v. Sparkman. The Stump Court attached immunity to actions of a judicial nature taken by a judge in his judicial capacity where such actions were not taken in the clear absence of all jurisdiction. But rather than clarifying the doctrine of judicial immunity, the Stump decision generated confusion among courts and commentators alike over what is proper jurisdiction and what is a judicial act under the judicial immunity doctrine. Then, last October, the Court simply added to the confusion with its decision in Mireles v. Waco, holding that a judge was immune from liability for allegedly authorizing the police to use excessive force to hail an attorney into court.
Linwood I. Rogers,
Mireles v. Waco: The Supreme Court Prescribes the Bitter Pill of Judicial Immunity and Summary Reversal,
U. Rich. L. Rev.
Available at: http://scholarship.richmond.edu/lawreview/vol26/iss3/18