As public defenders, Perry and Flottman are entitled to official immunity because they are public employees whose official statutory duties concern the performance of discretionary acts. . . . One need not be a public official engaged in the essence of governing to be entitled to official immunity; such immunity extends to protect public employees from liability for alleged acts of negligence committed during the course of performing discretionary acts requiring exercise of a degree of reason and judgment. There is no dispute Perry and Flottman were acting pursuant to their constitutionally and statutorily mandated duties in representing Laughlin, and . . . choosing which defenses to raise and which arguments to pursue on appeal on behalf of indigent clients constitutes a discretionary act entitled to official immunity.
Sunday, July 12, 2020
Missouri Supreme Court finds that public defenders have immunity for discretionary functions
In a case called Laughlin v. Perry, decided on June 30, 2020, the Missouri Supreme Court found that public defenders are immune for legal malpractice liability under the doctrine of discretionary functions. You can read the opinion here. The court summarized its conclusion as follows: