Oral argument: Nov. 1, 2011
Appealed from: United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit (June 9, 2011)
Relying on false testimony, three grand juries indicted Petitioner Charles Rehberg for varying charges. After the indictments were dismissed, Rehberg brought a private suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against several parties, including Respondent James Paulk, who had testified before all three grand juries. The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit ruled that Paulk, an investigator in the district attorney’s office, was entitled to absolute immunity for his testimony. The Supreme Court granted certiorari in this case to determine whether a government official who acts as a “complaining witness” is entitled to absolute immunity under Section 1983. Rehberg argues that complaining witnesses were never given absolute immunity under common law, and that a lesser grant of qualified immunity is more appropriate under the circumstances. Paulk, on the other hand, contends that a decision to withhold absolute immunity will discourage public officials from giving complete and objective testimony before grand juries.