Saturday, April 16, 2005

Suing sheriffs in their official capacity

According to this post, the law is all over the place in the 11th Circuit as to whether sheriffs can be sued in their official capacity, or whether they are viewed as the States, and therefore protected from money damages suits by the Eleventh Amendment.

In the Fourth Circuit, sheriffs sued in their official capacities are protected by the Eleventh Amendment in South Carolina (Cromer v. Brown, 88 F.3d 1315 (4th Cir. 1996); Gulledge v. Smart, 1989 WL 69302 (4th Cir.)), but perhaps not in North Carolina (Harter v. Vernon, 101 F.3d 334 (4th Cir. 1996)). The Virginia courts have generally in the more recent cases concluded that Virginia sheriffs are protected by the Eleventh Amendment. See Smith v. Fisher, 2002 WL 192563 (W.D. Va.); Harris v. Hayter, 970 F. Supp. 500 (W.D. Va. 1997); Blankenship v. Warren County, 918 F. Supp. 970 (W.D. Va. 1996); Williams-El v. Dunning, 816 F. Supp. 418 (E.D. Va. 1993); McCoy v. Chesapeake Correctional Center, 788 F. Supp. 890 (E.D. Va. 1992).

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