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Supreme Court of the United States
November 2, 1983, Argued ; May 14, 1984, Decided
[*524] [***568] [**1972] JUSTICE BLACKMUN delivered the opinion of the Court.
This case raises issues concerning the scope of judicial immunity from a civil suit that seeks injunctive and declaratory relief under § 1 of the Civil Rights Act of 1871, as amended, 42 U. S. C. § 1983, and from fee awards made under the Civil Rights Attorney's Fees Awards Act of 1976, 90 Stat. 2641, as amended, 42 U. S. C. § 1988.
Petitioner Gladys Pulliam is a state Magistrate in Culpeper County, Va. Respondents Richmond R. Allen and Jesse W. Nicholson were plaintiffs in a § 1983 action against Pulliam brought in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. They claimed that Magistrate Pulliam's practice of imposing bail on persons arrested for nonjailable [*525] offenses under Virginia law and of incarcerating those persons if they could not meet the bail was unconstitutional. The District Court agreed and enjoined the practice. [****6] That court also awarded respondents $ 7,691.09 in costs and attorney's fees under § 1988. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit rejected petitioner's claim that the award of attorney's fees against her should have been barred by principles of judicial immunity. We agree with the Court of Appeals and affirm the award.
Respondent Allen was arrested in January 1980 for allegedly using abusive and insulting language, a Class 3 misdemeanor under Va. Code § 18.2-416 (1982). The maximum penalty for a Class 3 misdemeanor is a $ 500 fine. See § 18.2-11(c). Petitioner set a bond of $ 250. Respondent Allen was unable to post the bond, and petitioner committed Allen to the [***569] Culpeper County jail, where he remained for 14 days. He was then tried, found guilty, fined, and released. The trial judge subsequently reopened the judgment and reversed the conviction. Allen then filed his § 1983 claim, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief against petitioner's practice of incarcerating persons waiting trial for nonincarcerable offenses. 2
[****7] Respondent Nicholson was incarcerated four times within the 2-month period immediately before and after the filing of Allen's complaint. His arrests were for alleged violations of Va. Code § 18.2-388 (1982), being drunk in public. Section 18.2-388 is a Class 4 misdemeanor for which the maximum penalty is a $ 100 fine. See § 18.2-11(d). Like Allen, respondent Nicholson was incarcerated for periods of two to six [*526] days for failure to post bond. He intervened in Allen's suit as a party plaintiff.
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466 U.S. 522 *; 104 S. Ct. 1970 **; 80 L. Ed. 2d 565 ***; 1984 U.S. LEXIS 75 ****; 52 U.S.L.W. 4525
PULLIAM, MAGISTRATE FOR THE COUNTY OF CULPEPER, VIRGINIA v. ALLEN ET AL.
Prior History: [****1] CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FOURTH CIRCUIT.
Disposition: 690 F.2d 376, affirmed.
judicial immunity, injunctive relief, courts, common-law, immunity, common law, attorney's fees, collateral, injunction, cases, damages, suits, harassing, mandamus, Rights, costs, prerogative writ, principles, prospective relief, judicial officer, award of attorney's fees, writ of prohibition, proceedings, writs, inferior court, decisions, enjoined, rival, award damages, state judge
Constitutional Law, Case or Controversy, Constitutional Questions, General Overview, Governments, Courts, Judges, Judicial Immunity, Torts, Public Entity Liability, Immunities, Civil Rights Law, Immunity From Liability, Local Officials, Customs & Policies, Federal Government, Claims By & Against, Authority to Adjudicate, Civil Procedure, Writs, Common Law Writs, Mandamus, Judges, Injunctions, Grounds for Injunctions, Remedies, Preliminary Considerations, Federal & State Interrelationships, Abstention, Anti-Injunction Act, Justiciability, Case & Controversy Requirements, Judicial Officers, The Judiciary, Protection of Rights, Contractual Relations & Housing, Civil Rights Act of 1866, Exceptions, Elements, Color of State Law, Criminal Law & Procedure, Preliminary Proceedings, Bail, Denial of Bail, Appeals, Standards of Review, Review, Procedural Matters, Costs & Attorney Fees, Statutory Attorney Fee Awards