Today, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a unanimous opinion (by Chief Justice Roberts) in Filarksy v. Delia, No. 10-1018, holding that a private lawyer who was retained by a local government is entitled to assert qualified immunity. Along with our colleagues at the ABA Section of State and Local Government Law, we filed an amicus brief in the case on behalf of the American Bar Association supporting the lawyer's claim to immunity.
The issue in the case involves the immunities that lawyers may be entitled to claim in civil rights actions under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The specific issue before the Court was whether Mr. Filarsky, a private lawyer retained by the City of Rialto, California to conduct a portion of the city's internal investigation of a city employee, was entitled to claim the same qualified immunity that is generally available to government employees acting in good faith who are defendants in 1983 actions. The Ninth Circuit concluded he could not avail himself of that defense, merely because he was not a government "employee." The Supreme Court unanimously reversed.
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