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Federal agents when charged with duties which require the exercise of discretion are immune from liability for actions within the scope of their authority. Ordinarily enforcement agents charged with the duty of arrest are not so immune.
Plaintiff photographer had been arrested on harassment charges due to his efforts to photograph the widow’s children. The photographer sued defendants, the secret service agents and the assassinated president’s widow, after his acquittal. Plaintiff’s claim against the secret service agents was dismissed, with the district court finding that the agents were acting within the scope of their authority and thus were immune from prosecution. The district court granted the widow’s counterclaim for injunctive relief. Plaintiff appealed.
In affirming the dismissal of the photographer's claims, the court agreed that the secret service agents were immune from liability because they were acting within the scope of their employment; the widow was not a party to the photographer's arrest and prosecution. In affirming the grant of relief for the widow, the court held that the evidence showed that the photographer had harassed the widow and her children. However, both the injunctive and the taxing of costs orders were overbroad and were thus modified accordingly.