Slater v. Clarke

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Sovereign Immunity
  • Date Filed: 11-19-2012
  • Case #: 11-35699
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Christen for the Court; Chief Judge Kozinski and Circuit Judge Watford
  • Full Text Opinion

Government officials are entitled to absolute immunity for their participation in extradition decisions as these decisions are, “intimately associated with the judicial phase of the criminal process.”

Defendants are certain Massachusetts officials alleged to have participated in a decision not to extradite Daniel Tavares from Washington State. Mr. Tavares was arraigned, shortly before he was released from the Massachusetts Department of Corrections in June 2007, for two incidents involving violent assaults on prison staff. Mr. Tavares traveled to Washington State after his release and failed to appear at the hearing regarding his two prison staff assaults, two warrants were issued for his arrest. Defendants are alleged, while they were aware Mr. Tavares was located in Washington State, to have issued an extradition order limited regionally to New England. In late 2007 Mr. Tavares murdered two individuals in their Washington home. The victim’s parents and personal representatives alleged the defendants “committed acts amounting to negligence and gross negligence” under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1985, when they failed to extradite Mr. Tavares from Washington State. The district court denied the defendants motion to dismiss on the basis of absolute immunity, defendants appealed. The Ninth Circuit held that officials are entitled to absolute immunity for their participation in extradition decisions as these decisions are, “intimately associated with the judicial phase of the criminal process.” The Court acknowledged that, “[i]t has long been the law of this circuit that a decision whether to prosecute” is entitled to absolute immunity. The Court found that the decision to extradite was, “the next step in the judicial process [after the decision whether to prosecute].” REVERSED and REMANDED.

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