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Icon-UpArrow 42 USC §1983: How it's Adjudicated on Judges

How 42 USC §1983 Claims are Adjudicated Against Judges


I. Definitions

Adjudication
"the determination of a controversy and pronouncement of judgment."" Color of Law
"the semblance of legal right. An action under color of law has the apparent authority of law but is actually contrary to law.""

II. Legal Citations

42 USC §1983 | Civil Action for Deprivation of Rights
"Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress, except that in any action brought against a judicial officer for an act or omission taken in such officer’s judicial capacity, injunctive relief shall not be granted unless a declaratory decree was violated or declaratory relief was unavailable. For the purposes of this section, any Act of Congress applicable exclusively to the District of Columbia shall be considered to be a statute of the District of Columbia." 1st Amendment US Constitution | Freedom of Religion, Press, Expression
"Congress shall make no law... abridging... the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." 5th Amendment US Constitution | Trial and Punishment, Compensation for Takings
"No person shall be... deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law..." 11th Amendment US Constitution | Judicial Limits
"The Judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by Citizens of another State, or by Citizens or Subjects of any Foreign State." 14th Amendment US Constitution (Section 1) | Citizenship Rights
"1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

III. Notes

  • Standard of Review: You must prove that:
    1. The defendant acted under color of law;
      • the defendant was using power that he/she possessed by virtue of state law
        • "state law" = any statute, ordinance, regulation, policy, custom, or usage of any state/territory
        • "state" includes all subdivision (eg, counties, municipalities, state agencies, county agencie,s municipal agencies, etc.)
    2. The defendant deprived you of a federal constitutional/statutory right (while doing so); and
    3. The defendant caused the damages that you suffered1
    • 1 note: some circuits do not require this third element
    "By the plain terms of § 1983, two – and only two – allegations are required in order to state a cause of action under that statute. First, the plaintiff must allege that some person has deprived him of a federal right. Second, he must allege that the person who has deprived him of that right acted under color of state or territorial law."

    - see Gomez v Toledo, 446 US 635 (1980)

    "The traditional definition of acting under color of state law requires that the defendant in a § 1983 action have exercised power ‘possessed by virtue of state law and made possible only because the wrongdoer is clothed with the authority of state law.’"

    - see West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 49 (1988)

    "[S]tate employment is generally sufficient to render the defendant a state actor...
    [G]enerally, a public employee acts under color of state law while acting in his official capacity or while exercising his responsibilities pursuant to state law.”"

    - see West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 49 (1988)

  • Factors to consider when determining whether the defendant was acting in his/her Official Capacity:
  • Due Process Violations (14th Amendment) Standard of Review:
    • Version A: Creating a Danger
      • The injury was foreseable
      • The defendant acted with either:
        1. conscious disregard of a great risk of serious harm to plaintiff; or
        2. deliberate indifference
      • The two parties related in a way that distinguished the plaintiff from the public at-large.
        • ie, the plaintiff wasn't just some bystander
      • The defendant either:
        1. created a danger to plaintiff; or
        2. made plaintiff more vulnerable to harm
      "a plaintiff must prove four elements: (1) the harm ultimately caused was foreseeable and fairly direct; (2) the state actor acted in willful disregard for the safety of the plaintiff; (3) there existed some relationship between the state and the plaintiff; and (4) the state actors used their authority to create an opportunity that otherwise would not have existed"

      - see Estate of Smith v. Marasco, 318 F.3d 497 (3d Cir. 2003).

    • Version B: Procedural Due Process
      1. Must establish a liberty/property interest which is protected by the Constitution;
      2. The government deprived you of that interest; and
      3. A lack of process occurred.
      "To state a procedural due process claim, the Class must allege "(1) a liberty or property interest protected by the Constitution; (2) a deprivation of the interest by the government; [and] (3) lack of process.""

      - see Wright v Riveland, 219 F. 3d 905 (9th Cir. 2000)

  • Equal Protection (14th Amendment) Standard of Review:
    • All persons similarly-situated should be treated alike.
    "The Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment commands that no State shall "deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws," which is essentially a direction that all persons similarly situated should be treated alike. Plyler v. Doe, 457 U. S. 202, 457 U. S. 216 (1982)"

    - see City of Cleburne v Cleburne Living Ctr., 473 US (1985)

IV. Bibliography

Congratulations! You're now booked up on how §1983 Claims Against Judges are Adjudicated!

Please get the justice you deserve.

Sincerely,



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