from the United States District Court for the Southern
District of Georgia D.C. Docket No. 6:16-cv-00167-JRH-GRS
NEWSOM and ANDERSON, Circuit Judges. [*]
ANDERSON, CIRCUIT JUDGE
case involving an alleged Fourth Amendment violation, Shannon
Rivera ("Rivera") appeals from the district
court's conclusion that she is not entitled to
quasi-judicial immunity, qualified immunity, and Georgia
official immunity from Akeem Washington's
("Washington") 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and state law
claims. We have reviewed the briefs, the record, and the
relevant case law, and have heard from the parties at oral
argument. We conclude that Rivera is not entitled to
quasi-judicial immunity or Georgia statutory immunity. But we
conclude that Rivera's actions did not violate
Washington's clearly established rights, and that she is
thus entitled to qualified immunity. We will therefore affirm
in part, reverse in part, and remand for further proceedings.
August 2011, Washington was issued a speeding ticket. He
appeared before Judge Jack Carney of the State Court of Bryan
County, Georgia, on October 10, 2011, to resolve that ticket.
At the hearing, Judge Carney verbally announced that
Washington was guilty of speeding and imposed an $895 fine.
Rivera, a probation officer for the Bryan County
Sheriff's Office, attended the hearing.
was not carrying enough cash to immediately pay the fine, but
told Judge Carney in Rivera's presence that he would go
get enough cash to pay. Judge Carney told Washington that he
would not be on probation if he paid his fine by October 25,
2011. Rivera heard this exchange. The clerk of court wrote a
note specifying the payment deadline and noting to call
Rivera if Washington paid. Washington left the courtroom to
use an ATM and immediately paid the fine at the clerk's
office that same day.
Deputy Clerk, Regina Curl, wrote Washington a receipt noting
his payment in full. Curl called Bryan County's Probation
Office "[i]n accordance with the verbal instructions
of" Judge Carney and spoke with Regina Ellis, who worked
there with Rivera. Curl told Ellis that Washington had paid
his fine and asked Ellis to tell Rivera. But Ellis did not
tell Rivera. Curl updated the clerk's office database to
reflect Washington's full payment of his fine a few days
January 11, 2012, someone filed a document in the clerk's office
sentencing Washington to probation. The next month, Rivera
signed an arrest warrant for Washington, to be submitted to
Judge Carney. Ellis notarized and Judge Carney signed the
warrant, which stated that Washington had not paid his fine.
Between the date of Washington's payment and the date
when Rivera signed the arrest warrant, Rivera did not check
with Washington, Curl, or Ellis to confirm that Washington
did not pay his fine.
September 29, 2012, Washington was arrested pursuant to the
warrant. He was sent to Bryan County Jail, where he told the
Sheriff's office personnel that he had paid his fine.
Someone at the Sheriff's office notified Rivera that
Washington had been arrested and was claiming that he had
already paid. Rivera then confirmed that Washington had paid
his fine and authorized his release. Washington was released
from custody. Washington's employer, the Georgia
Department of Corrections, then fired Washington from his job
due to the arrest.
filed suit in state court against Shannon Rivera and Regina
Ellis in their individual capacities, alleging that he was
unlawfully arrested under Georgia law. When he amended his complaint to add a
§ 1983 claim, which alleged that he was deprived of his
protection from unreasonable seizure and arrest under the
Fourth Amendment, the defendants removed to federal court.
Rivera moved for judgment on the pleadings on
Washington's third amended complaint, arguing that she is
thrice immune from suit under the doctrines of quasi-judicial
immunity and qualified immunity and the Georgia Tort Claims
Act ("GTCA"). The district court denied her motion,
holding that Rivera was not entitled to either type of
immunity or the GTCA's protections. Rivera
STANDARD OF REVIEW
review the district court's denial of a motion for
judgment on the pleadings de novo. Perez, 774 F.3d
at 1335. Judgment on the pleadings is appropriate when no
material facts are in dispute and the movant is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law. Id.
first invokes quasi-judicial immunity, arguing that her
status as a state probation officer entitles her to absolute
immunity from Washington's § 1983 claim.
immunity grants protection from suit to officials who are
"intimately associated with the judicial phase of the
criminal process." Hughes v. Chesser, 731 F.2d
1489, 1490 (11th Cir. 1984) (quoting Spaulding v.
Nielsen, 599 F.2d 728, 729 (5th Cir. 1979)).
 We determine whether a government
employee deserves quasi-judicial immunity through an analysis
of that employee's functions, and "not . . . the
status of the defendant." Cleavinger v. Saxner,
474 U.S. 193, 201, 106 S.Ct. 496, 501 (1985) (internal
quotations omitted). We do not look to rank, title, or
location within the government, but rather examine "the
nature of the responsibilities of the individual
official" to determine whether the official was
exercising a sufficiently judicial function. Id.;
see also Spaulding, 599 F.2d at 729 (extending
quasi-judicial immunity to a federal probation officer
because the "narrow function" at issue (i.e. the
preparation and submission of a presentence report to a judge
in a criminal case) was "intimately associated with the
judicial phase of the criminal process, " and noting
that when "the challenged activities of a federal
probation officer are within this function, "
she has absolute immunity (emphasis added)).
lodestar in this case is Malley v. Briggs, 475 U.S.
335, 106 S.Ct. 1092 (1986). In Malley, the Supreme
Court did not grant quasi-judicial immunity to a defendant
police officer who applied for arrest warrants. Id.
at 343, 106 S.Ct. at 1097. The officer analogized his actions
to those of a prosecutor who asks a grand jury to indict a
suspect; such a prosecutor has quasi-judicial immunity. He
noted that an officer must review the evidence before him and
exercise a discretionary function based on that evidence,
like the prosecutor. Id. at 341–42, 106 S.Ct.
at 1096. And he argued that an officer applying for a warrant
will likewise not exercise his best judgment if he fears
retaliatory lawsuits. Id.
Court found this comparison "untenable."
Id. at 342, 106 S.Ct. at 1097. It held that the
police officer's act of applying for an arrest warrant is
not "intimately associated with the judicial phase of
the criminal process, " Imbler v. Pachtman, 424
U.S. 409, 430, 96 S.Ct. 984, 995 (1976), and is "further
removed from the judicial phase of criminal proceedings than
the act of a prosecutor in seeking an indictment, "
Malley, 475 U.S. at 342–43, 106 S.Ct. at 1097.
It concluded that the officer applying for a warrant, unlike
a prosecutor seeking an indictment, is not a "central
actor in the judicial process" and thus not entitled to
absolute immunity. Id. at 343, 106 S.Ct. at 1097.
see little daylight between the police officer's
functions in Malley and Rivera's functions here.
There is no material difference between a police officer
applying for an arrest warrant and a probation officer
seeking such a warrant. Both officers act on their own
initiative and not at a judge's direction. And both
perform a function that we would characterize as
investigative rather than one having "an integral
relationship with the judicial process." Roland v.
Phillips, 19 F.3d 552, 555 (11th Cir. 1994) (internal
citations and quotations omitted). We thus hold that, because the Supreme
Court in Malley concluded that a police
officer's application for a warrant was not sufficiently
judicial to receive quasi-judicial immunity, Rivera's
action here cannot receive it either.
that our decision brings us in line with most other circuit
courts to have considered the issue. Most circuits have not
extended absolute immunity to probation officers in related
circumstances. See Swift v. California, 384 F.3d
1184, 1191–93 (9th Cir. 2004) (parole officials are not
entitled to absolute immunity for investigating parole
violations and orchestrating an arrest); Mee v.
Ortega, 967 F.2d 423, 429 (10th Cir. 1992) (parole
official is not entitled to absolute immunity for initiating
the arrest of plaintiff and holding him in jail pending
revocation hearing); Wilson v. Rackmill, 878 F.2d
772, 776 (3d Cir. 1989) (parole officers not entitled to
absolute immunity when challenged functions include
investigating parole violations and drafting warrant
applications because these functions are "executive and
investigative, " not "adjudicatory"); Ray
v. Pickett, 734 F.2d 370, 373 (8th Cir. 1984) (probation
officer not entitled to absolute immunity for falsifying a
report to obtain a warrant for a parole violator); Galvan
v. Garmon, 710 F.2d 214, 215–16 (5th Cir. 1983)
(probation officer not entitled to absolute immunity for
mistakenly filing an arrest warrant); see also Johnson v.
R.I. Parole Bd. Members, 815 ...