Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Miller v. Davis (9th Cir. - April 2, 2008)

I agree with Judge Reinhardt -- and think it's pretty clear -- that the Governor of California should be (and hence is) entitled to absolute quasi-judicial immunity for even an erroneous reversal of a parole board's grant of parole. Sure, as it turns out, the Governor does't actually have the power to reverse parole grants for people convicted of conspiracy to commit murder, as opposed to actual murder. But that wasn't totally obvious. So when Governor Davis reversed the grant of parole for Donald Miller, it was a quasi-judicial act that wasn't in deliberate excess of his jurisdiction, and hence he's absolutely immune from suit.

That said, you gotta love Judge Reinhardt. In the midst of explaining why quasi-judicial immunity applies, he says: "Admittedly, several of the Butz factors weigh against such a conclusion—the Governor’s review is not adversarial in nature, there is no requirement that the Governor consider precedent in making his determination, and the Governor is, by definition as an elected official, not insulated from political influence, as Governor Davis’s almost uniform denials of parole amply demonstrate." (emphasis added).

The gratuitous -- and yet totally accurate -- slam. A hallmark characteristic of my former boss.

P.S. - Cathy & Molly: The Ninth Circuit's web site lists all of the opinions today as from April 3rd. Maybe that's a delayed April Fool's joke. Because unless I slept a long time last night, I'm pretty sure it's only the 2nd. POSTSCRIPT: Thirty minutes after my post, they make the change. Nice.