Jack Kaufman


This Note discusses the development of the Supreme Court's approach to section 1983 immunity for trial witnesses. Central to this discussion is an overview of the history of common-law immunities for government officials, the history and purpose of section 1983, and the history of the Supreme Court's section 1983 immunity decisions. The author discusses the current disagreement in the circuits over extending section 1983 immunity to pretrial police testimony. The author also analyzes various possible answers to the question of whether to extend witness immunity under section 1983 to specific pretrial proceedings by applying the current Supreme Court "functional categories" immunity analysis and the policies for and against extension of absolute immunity to pretrial police testimony. The Note concludes that police officers should enjoy absolute immunity from section 1983 suits that are based solely on their perjured pretrial testimony. However, the author also suggests that a section 1983 plaintiff should be allowed to introduce such testimony as evidence that a police officer initiated a baseless or malicious prosecution against the plaintiff.