Congratulations to my Mayer Brown LLP colleagues Andy Pincus and Charles Rothfeld, who (through the Yale Law School Supreme Court Clinic project) had a cert grant this morning in Rehberg v. Paulk. Here’s the issue in the case:
In Briscoe v. LaHue, 460 U.S. 325 (1983), this Court held that law enforcement officials enjoy absolute immunity from civil liability under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for perjured testimony that they provide at trial. But in Malley v. Briggs, 475 U.S. 335 (1986), this Court held that law enforcement officials are not entitled to absolute immunity when they act as “complaining witnesses” to initiate a criminal prosecution by submitting a legally invalid arrest warrant. The federal courts of appeals have since divided about how Briscoe and Malley apply when government officials act as “complaining witnesses” by testifying before a grand jury or at another judicial proceeding.
The question presented in this case is: Whether a government official who acts as a “complaining witness” by presenting perjured testimony against an innocent citizen is entitled to absolute immunity from a Section 1983 claim for civil damages.
Orin blogged about a different facet of this case — the Fourth Amendment question, which the Court is not reviewing — last year.