Section Qualified Immunity Resolution Approved by ABA House
During the ABA’s 2012 Midyear Meeting in New Orleans, the House of Delegates on February 6, 2012, approved Resolution 302, submitted by the Section of State and Local Government Law to address the availability of qualified immunity for private lawyers who represent governmental entities. Under R. 302 as adopted by the House, the ABA now supports the principle that would put private attorneys on the same footing as government lawyers in seeking entitlement to qualified immunity from 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claims when they are acting under color of state law.
This is a very significant issue for private attorneys who regularly engage in representation of governmental clients in light of the Ninth Circuit’s decision to deny qualified immunity to a private attorney representing a governmental entity in Filarsky. (But see “Filarsky Update,” at 7, this issue.)
Sponsors of R. 302 accepted a friendly amendment from Criminal Justice Section Delegate Steven Salzburg, who suggested that adding the term “government lawyers” immediately after “qualified immunity” in the text of R. 302 would clarify and strengthen the resolution. The addition of “government lawyers” would more precisely emphasize that the qualified immunity to which government lawyers regularly employed to represent and defend governmental entities are entitled to claim in § 1983 litigation should be equally available to private attorneys representing such governmental entities. The amendment was accepted and incorporated into the language of the resolution as finally adopted by the House of Delegates.
On behalf of the Section of State and Local Government Law, Benjamin E. Griffith of Mississippi moved R. 302 supporting the principle that “private” lawyers representing governmental entities are entitled to qualified immunity from 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claims when they are acting “under color of state law.” Robert S. Peck of the District of Columbia moved to postpone indefinitely consideration of the resolution. Robert Thomas of Hawaii, Karen J. Mathis of Colorado, and J. Anthony Patterson of Montana spoke against the motion to postpone indefinitely. The motion to postpone indefinitely was defeated. Stephen A. Saltzburg of the District of Columbia moved an amendment, which was approved, and the resolution was approved as amended.
The Resolution was approved by voice vote and thereby became ABA official policy.
The final version of R. 302 as approved is as follows:
RESOLVED, That the American Bar Association supports the principle that private lawyers representing governmental entities are entitled to claim the same qualified immunity provided government lawyers from 42 U.S.C. Section 1983 claims when they are acting “under color of state law.”
Patricia E. Salkin, Section Delegate to the ABA House of Delegates and previously Raymond & Ella Smith Distinguished Professor of Law and Associate Dean and Director of the Government Law Center of Albany Law School, has been named the first female dean of Touro College Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center. Allen Fagin, chair of the search committee, noted that Salkin “was a most impressive candidate from the early stages of the search,” and Touro College Board of Trustees Chair Dr. Mark Hasten said, “Salkin brings a compelling mix of talent and skill to this position. She has a national reputation as a legal expert as well as a deep passion for the law and legal education.”
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Former Oregon Court of Appeals judge and Section member Ellen Rosenblum has won the Democratic primary to become Oregon’s first female Attorney General. A long-time Section member, she currently serves the Section as chair of the Membership Committee. She has devoted much of her career to public service, serving as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon, later as a state trial judge, and most recently as a judge on the Oregon Court of Appeals. Rosenblum credits her participation in the ABA at large, and this Section specifically, with providing her a broad network of contacts that will help her serve more effectively as Oregon’s next Attorney General.
Call for Chapter Authors—
Handbook of Municipal Law
The ABA Section of State and Local Government Law plans to publish a source book on local government law in 2013. A draft table of contents is available by contacting the editor below. A person or persons selected to write a chapter should expect to commit to furnishing a detailed outline within one month of selection and the first draft of the chapter within four months after approval of the outline. The handbook will be marketed to local government lawyers as well as to attorneys who do only occasional work in this field. The preferred approach will be to thoroughly identify issues rather than offer a treatise on any given topic.
One editor will be Bill Scheiderich, an Oregon local government attorney for over 30 years and presently the Section Budget Director and member of the Section Council. All submittals should be in recent versions of MS Word or Corel WordPerfect and will be edited and returned for redraft using the same application.
Interested persons should send a brief CV that includes any prior publications by the person, in any capacity, and the chapter that the person desires to write. Please direct all inquiries to Bill at firstname.lastname@example.org, 503/526-2215.
Chicago Fordham Society Luncheon
The Jefferson Fordham Society’s Annual Luncheon in Chicago during the ABA Annual Meeting will take place on Friday, August 3, at Maggiano’s Little Italy, 111 W. Grand Avenue, from 12:00 noon to 2:00 p.m. During the luncheon, the Society’s Jefferson Fordham Awards honoring professional excellence in the practice of state and local government law will be presented to:
Daniel J. Curtin Lifetime Achievement Award
Stephen H. Pugh
Pugh, Jones & Johnson, P.C., Chicago, Illinois
Stephen J. Acquario
Executive Director/General Counsel,
New York State Association of Counties
Executive Director, New York State County
Albany, New York
Up & Comers Award
Sarah Weber Langlois
Rogers, Morris & Grover, L.L.P.
SAVE THE DATE
for the Fall Council Meeting!
Kansas City, Missouri,
will be buzzing with
State & Local Government Lawyers on
October 4-7, 2012.
Don’t miss the CLE programs, the business meetings, and the great camaraderie.
We will be at the
Raphael Hotel, 325 Ward Parkway.
Look for more information on
the Section’s website at