Case Details


The Trial Court Dismissed The Claims Against The Attorney General Based On His Absolute Prosecutorial Immunity

Filing State



U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit




Cousins v. Lockyer, No. 07-17216 (9th Cir., June 15, 2009)


The court described the Attorney General’s absolute federal immunity when acting “within his role as an “advocate for the State” and his actions are “intimately associated with the judicial phase of the criminal process”

Case Description

Cousins, a sex offender, failed to register as required by state law was convicted and sentenced to 25 years in prison under the state’s three-strikes law. After his conviction, the California Court of Appeal issued a decision holding the statute under which he was convicted unconstitutionally vague. The state did not appeal the decision. Cousins filed a writ of habeas corpus, arguing that he should be released because the statute had been declared unconstitutional. The Attorney General’s office filed its answer a year later. The California Supreme Court issued the writ and Cousins was released approximately 19 months after the statute was held unconstitutional. He filed suit alleging that his prolonged incarceration violated 42 U.S.C. §1983 and several state statutes.