Immunity, Prosecutorial Under 42 U. S. C. §1983

Criminal Law Update

Van De Kamp et Al v Goldstein, __ US__; 129 S Ct 855 (2009)(jan'09).Defendant was released from prison after a successful federal habeas petition alleging that his murder conviction resulted from false testimony by a jailhouse informant, who had received reduced sentences for his testimony in past cases.He alleged that prosecutors knew, yet failed to tell defendant's attorney, valuable impeachment information, which led to his mistaken conviction. Defendant filed suit under 42 U. S. C. §1983, against the prosecution, declaring that they breached a constitutional duty to communicate this information, resulting from supervisory prosecutors' inability to train or supervise, or to establish an information system containing impeachment material about informants.The petitioners claimed absolute immunity.The Supreme Court found for petitioners, asserting that they are entitled to absolute immunity from liability in §1983 suits brought against prosecutorial actions that are "intimately associated with the judicial phase of the criminal process." SeeImbler v Pachtman,424 US 409. Although defendant here challenged administrative procedures, they are still procedures that are directly linked with the trial's conduct and are therefore protected.