Pierson v. Ray 386 U.S. 547 (1967)

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PIERSON v. RAY 386 U.S. 547 (1967)

Pierson is an important case involving individual immunities from suits under section 1983, title 42, united states code. Clergymen who violated an unlawful "whites only" waiting room policy in a Jackson, Mississippi, bus terminal were arrested and convicted. They brought an action under section 1983 against the arresting police officers and a state judge for depriving the clergymen of their constitutional rights. The Supreme Court both reaffirmed what it asserted to be the absolute immunity of judges from suit at common law and refused to interpret section 1983 to abolish that traditional immunity. Although the police officer defendants were not granted absolute immunity, the Court did grant them a defense if the otherwise unconstitutional arrests were made in good faith and with probable cause.

Theodore Eisenberg