Absolute immunity is not available to most officials. Unlike qualified immunity,
the nature of the act is not as important as the position of the official.
Generally, only judges, prosecutors, legislators, and the highest executive
officials of all governments are absolutely immune from liability when acting
within their authority. Medical peer review participants may also receive
absolute immunity. Ostrzenski v. Seigel, 177 F.3d 245 (4th Cir. 1999).
Absolute immunity only applies to acts committed within the scope of the
official's duties. Usually, this will not include acts that are committed by the
official with malice or corrupt motives.
Absolute immunity is freedom from suit, and can be invoked on a pretrial
motion. Judges and judicial officers, for example, enjoy a broad absolute
immunity which is not abrogated even by a state's tort claims act. Fisher v.
Pickens, 225 Cal. App. 3d 708 (Cal. App. 4th Dist. 1990). The immunity bars all
civil suits for money damages against judicial officers such as judges and
Michigan's statute preserving absolute immunity for certain officials provides: "A
judge, a legislator, and the elective or highest appointive executive official of
all levels of government are immune from tort liability for injuries to persons or
damages to property if he or she is acting within the scope of his or her
judicial, legislative, or executive authority." Mich. Comp. Laws § 691.1407(5)
(1965). Thus, these officials may not be sued in tort so long as the act
occurred within the scope of that official's duty.