Ministerial Officers and Deputies

If a government official acting under a legal process exercises his/her authority for attaining a wrongful end or to hide an illegal conduct, such official will be considered as though s/he had acted without process.

Any officer responsible for improper seizure of property, use of unnecessary force in serving a writ, or makes oppressive use of legally issued processes with malice to attain personal and perverted reason would be liable in damages.

Similarly, a public official may be chargeable with abuse of process if s/he acts maliciously in serving the process.  A deputy who commits trespass under his or her commanding officer’s authority will also be held liable like any other private individual.

In Vigeant v. United States, 462 F. Supp. 2d 221 (D.R.I. 2006), plaintiff’s home was raided by federal agents pursuant to a search warrant.  Two firearms were found out from the plaintiff’s home and he was convicted for felony.  The plaintiff alleged that the federal agents knew about his past and were influenced by dislike for him when they conducted the search for bank records that they already possessed, uttered derogatory comments during the search, and waited only seconds before breaking down the door and handcuffing him half-naked to a chair.  However, the Court contended that they were not sufficient to raise a trial-worthy issue on the abuse of process claim.

In State use of Little v. United States Fidelity & Guaranty Co., 217 Miss. 576 (Miss. 1953), Plaintiff was the office manager for a drilling company who issued a payroll check on his employer’s account in Hinds County.  It was cashed by the employee in Warren County.  When the recipient of the check submitted it at the employer’s bank, it bounced back due to insufficient funds.  This prompted the recipient of the check to bring an action before the justice of peace.  Pursuant to the order of the justice of peace, the office manager was taken into custody and was forced to pay both the employer’s check and court costs.  After this, the office manager sued the surety on a bond it had issued to insure that the justice of the peace would faithfully perform the duties of his office, claiming malicious prosecution and abuse of process by the justice of the peace.  The judgment on liability was reversed remanding for the assessment of damages in such amount as the office manager could show he sustained.

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