Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Absolute Immunity Definition:

Shields public officials from being sued for official acts without regard to motive.

Related Terms: Qualified Immunity

In Stafford, Justice Carpeneti wrote:

"[T]he doctrines of absolute and qualified immunity protect public officials from tort suits for discretionary acts committed within the scope of their authority.

"Absolute immunity immunizes officials from suit for all official acts without regard to motive.

"Qualified immunity immunizes official acts only when undertaken in good faith.

"Both forms of immunity seek to balance the protection of private citizens' rights and the substantial social costs of imposing liability on public officials.

"A three-step inquiry is generally used to determine the existence and scope of official immunity. First, does the doctrine of official immunity apply to the state official's conduct? Second, if it does apply, is the immunity absolute or qualified? And third, if it is only a qualified immunity, did the state official act corruptly, maliciously, or in bad faith?"

REFERENCES:

  • Smith v. Stafford, 189 P. 3d 1065 (Supreme Court of Alaska, 2008)

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