Antoine v. Byers & Anderson, Inc., 508 U.S. 429, 7 (1993)

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Cite as: 508 U. S. 429 (1993)

Opinion of the Court

There is a second problem with respondents' theory. Even had common-law judges performed the functions of a court reporter, that would not end the immunity inquiry. It would still remain to consider whether judges, when performing that function, were themselves entitled to absolute immunity. We do not doubt that judicial notetaking as it is commonly practiced is protected by absolute immunity, because it involves the kind of discretionary decisionmaking that the doctrine of judicial immunity is designed to protect. But if we could imagine a hypothetical case in which a common-law judge felt himself bound to transcribe an entire proceeding verbatim, it is far less clear—and neither respondent refers us to any case law suggesting—that this administrative duty would be similarly protected. Indeed, we have recently held that judges are not entitled to absolute immunity when acting in their administrative capacity. Forrester v. White, 484 U. S. 219, 229 (1988).

We are also unpersuaded by the contention that our "functional approach" to immunity, see Burns v. Reed, 500 U. S., at 486, requires that absolute immunity be extended to court reporters because they are "part of the judicial function," see 950 F. 2d, at 1476. The doctrine of judicial immunity is supported by a long-settled understanding that the independent and impartial exercise of judgment vital to the judiciary might be impaired by exposure to potential damages liability.10 Accordingly, the "touchstone" for the doctrine's applicability has been "performance of the function of resolv-decided as he did with judicial integrity . . . ." Bradley v. Fisher, 13 Wall. 335, 349 (1872).

10 "For it is a general principle of the highest importance to the proper administration of justice that a judicial officer, in exercising the authority vested in him, shall be free to act upon his own convictions, without apprehension of personal consequences to himself. Liability to answer to every one who might feel himself aggrieved by the action of the judge, would be inconsistent with the possession of this freedom, and would destroy that independence without which no judiciary can be either respectable or useful." Id., at 347. See also Mireles v. Waco, 502 U. S. 9, 10 (1991), and cases cited therein.


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