During the past thirty years, the United States Supreme Court has refined a system of immunities for governmental officials when those officials are sued under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violation of constitutional rights. The kind of immunity granted varies with the kind of governmental function exercised by the official when committing the alleged constitutional violation. Persons exercising legislative functions are absolutely immune from suit either for damages or for prospective (declaratory or injunctive) relief. Those exercising prosecutorial functions are absolutely immune from damages but may be sued for prospective relief. Those exercising executive functions are granted only a conditional, good-faith immunity from damage awards and also may be sued for prospective relief. While it is settled that those persons exercising judicial functions are entitled to absolute immunity from damage actions, the one piece still missing from this jigsaw puzzle of immunities is whether they may be sued for prospective relief. The Supreme Court has not yet decided whether judges acting in their judicial capacity may be sued for declaratory or injunctive relief.
Shapiro, Stephen J.
"The Propriety of Prospective Relief and Attorney's Fees Awards Against State-Court Judges in Federal Civil Rights Actions,"
Akron Law Review: Vol. 17:
1, Article 3.
Available at: https://ideaexchange.uakron.edu/akronlawreview/vol17/iss1/3