Rehberg v. Paulk: Absolute Immunity is Wrong

Algiers recently commented on why Durham Prosecutor Mike Nifong isn’t occupying a prison cell alongside Jeff Ashton and Linda Drane Burdick.  All 3 are criminals who lied under the oath they took to get into office.  The Rehberg v. Paulk decision:

Rehberg involved a § 1983 Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment-based malicious prosecution damages action against a chief investigator in a district attorney’s office who, as a complaining witness, allegedly testified falsely before three different grand juries, each of which separately indicted the plaintiff on various charges subsequently dismissed. The Eleventh Circuit held that the chief investigator was absolutely immune from damages liability for his allegedly false testimony before the grand jury.

In layman’s terms, prosecutors and complaining witnesses can lie under oath with no penalty.  It’s called Absolute Immunity.  So a Mike Nifong can say Duke Lacrosse boys gang-raped a girl, a Jeff “laughing lawyer” Ashton and a Linda Drane Burdick can say that Casey Anthony searched for chloroform 84 times with no penalty for perjury — even though all three prosecutors knowingly lied.  Courtesy of the Harlan Institute, watch this brief 2 minute video:

Ken Hodges

Ken Hodges – Click to enlarge

So why would justices uphold a prosecutor’s right to lie?  I’d expect that kind of decision out of Justices Thomas and Scalia, but shame on the others. Here’s the thing.  (1) Justices want to reduce the number of malicious prosecution claims, for one.  They say frivolous lawsuits would be too common.  I say frivolous lawsuits will keep these criminal prosecutors in check so they stop charging people with false crimes!  For another, (2) this gives the media lobby like HLN something to talk about.  If there were no cases like this, HLN wouldn’t have ratings, and they wouldn’t be able to spread their propaganda of fear.  As this website indicates, HLN works hand-in-hand with the prison lobby, and this is yet another example.  (3) Thirdly, if you were a brother, would you want your sister prosecuted?  The justices don’t want their own brothers and sisters subjected to prosecution!  They’re all part of the same judicial family of corruption.  The more power their family has, the more powerful they are.

When your next election comes around, find out where your judges stand on prosecutorial immunity.  If they support immunity, fire ’em if they’re holding office.  If they’re running for office, make sure their careers aren’t furthered and they don’t add to the culture of corruption inundating our judicial system.

While Rehberg v Paulk protects all prosecutors from civil liability, it doesn’t necessarily protect them from criminal liability.  This is where the tacit, unwritten rules of the criminal justice brotherhood come into play, and it’s why Mike Nifong spent a whopping 3 whole hours in jail while trying to hang 3 innocent Duke Lacrosse boys.

A prosecutor’s criminal conduct in the context of prosecuting a case would never be prosecuted by other prosecutors. It would set a “bad precedent” for the brotherhood. It would open a Pandora’s Box and they’d be prosecuting the hell out of each other. This isn’t what they signed up for when they spent 3 years getting their J.D.!

If it was shockingly egregious criminal conduct while prosecuting a universally beloved public figure (like Mr. Rogers or Joe Montana or similar), you might see criminal charges in relation to impeachment proceedings undertaken by a legislature, but although that is possible it isn’t likely.

Now if a prosecutor did something horrible to children or copyrighted materials or something he might be prosecuted criminally for that, only if it had nothing to do with his work. Again, I’ve always said our CJS has become, de facto, a “legal mafia” (my favorite oxymoron). Sadly, they don’t teach these things in law school because this isn’t how due process is supposed to operate.  It’s why I’ve always said our criminal justice system has become, de facto, a “legal mafia”.

What do you think of prosecutorial immunity and the Rehberg v. Paulk SCOTUS decision?

Jason Weber
Founder of Occupy HLN. Hockey player-turned-professional. Graduate of Cornell University's Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management '97. Sports fanatic, enjoy networking, and keeping up with current events. Technocrat, Schema, SEO, blogaholic, social media contributor, Stack Exchange contributor, and keeping up with G's daily algorithmic alterations.
Jason Weber


Protecting your constitutional civil rights of due process from yellow journalism, the trial-by-media lynch-mob, & the prison lobby
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