Court-Appointed Attorneys for Imprisoned Indigents Enjoy Absolute Immunity from 42 U.S.C. § 1983 Civil Rights Actions
Summarizes the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit’s case Minns v. Paul. The court found that Minns’ lawyer Paul’s failure to respond to Minn’s request for legal assistance was not an act under color of state law. The Fourth Circuit in Minns v. Paul22 has recognized the hazards of subjecting court-appointed attorneys to the time-consuming defense of unsupported claims and therefore grants absolute immunity from suits under section 1983.3 But the court has also properly realized that inappropriate conduct on the part of counsel is a serious enough problem to warrant corrective action. The burden of that action should rest with the public or the bar. The court's shift of the source of such corrective action from the involved indigent client to the public, whose interest is not quite so colorable, is an appropriate recognition of the practical aspects of prisoner-initiated civil rights actions.