This case raises issues concerning the scope of judicial immunity from a civil suit that seeks injunctive and declaratory relief under § 1 of the Civil Rights Act of 1871, as amended, 42 U. S. C. § 1983, and from fee awards made under the Civil Rights Attorney's Fees Awards Act of 1976, 90 Stat. 2641, as amended, 42 U. S. C. § 1988.
Petitioner Gladys Pulliam is a state Magistrate in Culpeper County, Va. Respondents Richmond R. Allen and Jesse W. Nicholson were plaintiffs in a § 1983 action against Pulliam brought in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. They claimed that Magistrate Pulliam's practice of imposing bail on persons arrested for nonjailable
Respondent Allen was arrested in January 1980 for allegedly using abusive and insulting language, a Class 3 misdemeanor under Va. Code § 18.2-416 (1982). The maximum penalty for a Class 3 misdemeanor is a $500 fine. See § 18.2-11(c). Petitioner set a bond of $250. Respondent Allen was unable to post the bond, and petitioner committed Allen to the Culpeper County jail, where he remained for 14 days. He was then tried, found guilty, fined, and released. The trial judge subsequently reopened the judgment and reversed the conviction. Allen then filed his § 1983 claim, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief against petitioner's practice of incarcerating persons waiting trial for nonincarcerable offenses.
Respondent Nicholson was incarcerated four times within the 2-month period immediately before and after the filing of Allen's complaint. His arrests were for alleged violations of Va. Code § 18.2-388 (1982), being drunk in public. Section 18.2-388 is a Class 4 misdemeanor for which the maximum penalty is a $100 fine. See § 18.2-11(d). Like Allen, respondent Nicholson was incarcerated for periods of two to six
The District Court found it to be petitioner's practice to require bond for nonincarcerable offenses. The court declared the practice to be a violation of due process and equal protection and enjoined it.
Respondents submitted a request for fees and costs totalling $7,691.09. The fee component of this figure was $7,038.
Petitioner took an appeal from the order awarding attorney's fees against her. She argued that, as a judicial officer, she was absolutely immune from an award of attorney's fees. The Court of Appeals reviewed the language and legislative history of § 1988. It concluded that a judicial officer is not immune from an award of attorney's fees in an action in which prospective relief properly is awarded against her. Since the court already had determined that judicial immunity did not extend to injunctive and declaratory relief under § 1983,
We granted certiorari in this case, 461 U.S. 904 (1983), to determine, as petitioner phrased the question, "[w]hether Judicial Immunity Bars the Award of Attorney's Fees Pursuant to 42 U. S. C. § 1988 Against a Member of the Judiciary Acting in his Judicial Capacity." See the initial leaf of the petition for certiorari. As the Court of Appeals recognized, the answer to that question depends in part on whether judicial immunity bars an award of injunctive relief under § 1983. The legislative history of § 1988 clearly indicates that Congress intended to provide for attorney's fees in cases where relief properly is granted against officials who are immune from damages awards. H. R. Rep. No. 94-1558, p. 9 (1976).
Although injunctive relief against a judge rarely is awarded, the United States Courts of Appeals that have faced the issue are in agreement that judicial immunity does not bar such relief.
At the common law itself, there was no such thing as an injunction against a judge. Injunctive relief was an equitable remedy that could be awarded by the Chancellor only against the parties in proceedings before other courts. See 2 J. Story, Equity Jurisprudence ¶ 875, p. 72 (11th ed. 1873). This limitation on the use of the injunction, however, says nothing about the scope of judicial immunity. And the limitation derived not from judicial immunity, but from the substantive confines of the Chancellor's authority. Ibid.
Although there were no injunctions against common-law judges, there is a common-law parallel to the § 1983 injunction at issue here. That parallel is found in the collateral prospective relief available against judges through the use of the King's prerogative writs. A brief excursion into common-law history helps to explain the relevance of these writs to the question whether principles of common-law immunity bar injunctive relief against a judicial officer.
A number of courts challenged the King's Bench for authority in those days. Among these were the Council, the Star Chamber, the Chancery, the Admiralty, and the ecclesiastical courts. Ibid. In an effort to assert the supremacy of the common-law courts, Lord Coke forbade the interference by courts of equity with matters properly triable at common law. See Heath v. Rydley, Cro. Jac. 335, 79 Eng. Rep. 286 (K. B. 1614). Earlier, in Floyd and Barker, 12 Co. Rep. 23, 77 Eng. Rep. 1305 (1607), Coke and his colleagues of the Star Chamber had declared the judges of the King's Bench immune from prosecution in competing courts for their judicial acts. In doing so, they announced the theory upon which the concept of judicial immunity was built. The judge involved in Floyd and Barker was a common-law Judge of Assize who had presided over a murder trial. He was then charged in the Star Chamber with conspiracy. The court concluded that the judges of the common law should not be called to account "before any other Judge at the suit of the King." Id., at 24, 77 Eng. Rep., at 1307.
As this quoted language illustrates, Coke's principle of immunity extended only to the higher judges of the King's courts. See 5 Holdsworth, at 159-160. In time, Coke's theory was expanded beyond his narrow concern of protecting the common-law judges from their rival courts, so that judges of all courts were accorded immunity, at least for actions within their jurisdiction.
It is in the light of the common law's focus on judicial independence that the collateral control exercised by the King's Bench over rival and inferior courts has particular significance.
The King's Bench exercised significant collateral control over inferior and rival courts through the use of prerogative writs. The writs included habeas corpus, certiorari, prohibition, mandamus, quo warranto, and ne exeat regno. 1 Holdsworth, at 226-231 (7th ed. 1956). Most interesting for our current purposes are the writs of prohibition and mandamus.
Examples are numerous in which a judge of the King's Bench, by issuing a writ of prohibition at the request of a party before an inferior or rival court, enjoined that court from proceeding with a trial or from committing a perceived error during the course of that trial. See generally Dobbs, The Decline of Jurisdiction by Consent, 40 N. C. L. Rev. 49, 60-61 (1961). The writs were particularly useful in exercising collateral control over the ecclesiastical courts, since the King's Bench exercised no direct review over those tribunals. In Shatter v. Friend, 1 Show. 158, 89 Eng. Rep. 510 (K. B. 1691), for example, the court granted a prohibition against the Spiritual Court for refusing to allow the defendant's proof of payment of a 10-pound legacy, one of the justices concluding that "it was an unconscionable unreasonable thing to disallow the proof." Id., at 161, 89 Eng. Rep., at 512.
The practice has continued into modern times. In King v. Emerson,  2 Ir. R. 377, for instance, the court granted a writ of prohibition preventing a justice of the peace, acting in a judicial capacity, from proceeding with a deposition, because of a likelihood that a reasonable public might conclude that the magistrate's statements indicated bias in favor of the Crown. The court directed the magistrate to pay costs to the complaining party, leaving him to settle with the Crown the matter of indemnification.
The relationship between the King's Bench and its collateral and inferior courts is not precisely paralleled in our system by the relationship between the state and federal courts.
It is true that the King's Bench was successful in insulating its judges from collateral review. But that success had less to do with the doctrine of judicial immunity than with the fact that only the superior judges of the King's Bench, not the ecclesiastical courts or the inferior common-law courts, had authority to issue the prerogative writs.
Our own experience is fully consistent with the common law's rejection of a rule of judicial immunity from prospective relief. We never have had a rule of absolute judicial immunity from prospective relief, and there is no evidence that the absence of that immunity has had a chilling effect on judicial independence. None of the seminal opinions on judicial immunity, either in England or in this country, has involved
For the most part, injunctive relief against a judge raises concerns different from those addressed by the protection of judges from damages awards. The limitations already imposed by the requirements for obtaining equitable relief against any defendant — a showing of an inadequate remedy at law and of a serious risk of irreparable harm, see Beacon Theatres, Inc. v. Westover, 359 U.S. 500, 506-507 (1959)
The answer to this concern is that it is not one primarily of judicial independence, properly addressed by a doctrine of judicial immunity. The intrusion into the state process would result whether the action enjoined were that of a state judge or of another state official. The concern, therefore, has been addressed as a matter of comity and federalism, independent of principles of judicial immunity.
If the Court were to employ principles of judicial immunity to enhance further the limitations already imposed by principles of comity and federalism on the availability of injunctive relief against a state judge, it would foreclose relief in situations where, in the opinion of a federal judge, that relief is constitutionally required and necessary to prevent irreparable harm. Absent some basis for determining that such a result is compelled, either by the principles of judicial immunity, derived from the common law and not explicitly abrogated by Congress, or by Congress' own intent to limit
As illustrated above, there is little support in the common law for a rule of judicial immunity that prevents injunctive relief against a judge. There is even less support for a conclusion that Congress intended to limit the injunctive relief available under § 1983 in a way that would prevent federal injunctive relief against a state judge. In Pierson v. Ray, 386 U.S. 547 (1967), the Court found no indication of affirmative congressional intent to insulate judges from the reach of the remedy Congress provided in § 1983. The Court simply declined to impute to Congress the intent to abrogate common-law principles of judicial immunity. Absent the presumption of immunity on which Pierson was based, nothing in the legislative history of § 1983 or in this Court's subsequent interpretations of that statute supports a conclusion that Congress intended to insulate judges from prospective collateral injunctive relief.
Congress enacted § 1983 and its predecessor, § 2 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866, 14 Stat. 27, to provide an independent avenue for protection of federal constitutional rights. The remedy was considered necessary because "state courts were being used to harass and injure individuals, either because the state courts were powerless to stop deprivations or were in league with those who were bent upon abrogation of federally protected rights." Mitchum v. Foster, 407 U.S. 225, 240 (1972). See also Pierson v. Ray, 386 U. S., at 558-564 (dissenting opinion) (every Member of Congress who spoke to the issue assumed that judges would be liable under § 1983).
Subsequent interpretations of the Civil Rights Acts by this Court acknowledge Congress' intent to reach unconstitutional actions by all state actors, including judges. In Ex parte Virginia, 100 U.S. 339 (1880), § 4 of the Civil Rights Act of 1875, 18 Stat. 336, was employed to authorize a criminal indictment against a judge for excluding persons from
The interpretation in Ex parte Virginia of Congress' intent in enacting the Civil Rights Acts has not lost its force with the passage of time. In Mitchum v. Foster, supra, the Court found § 1983 to be an explicit exception to the anti-injunction statute, citing Ex parte Virginia for the proposition that the "very purpose of § 1983 was to interpose the federal courts between the States and the people, as guardians of the people's federal rights — to protect the people from unconstitutional action under color of state law, `whether that action be executive, legislative, or judicial.' " 407 U. S., at 242.
Much has changed since the Civil Rights Acts were passed. It no longer is proper to assume that a state court will not act to prevent a federal constitutional deprivation or that a state judge will be implicated in that deprivation. We remain steadfast in our conclusion, nevertheless, that Congress intended § 1983 to be an independent protection for federal rights and find nothing to suggest that Congress intended to expand the common-law doctrine of judicial immunity to insulate state judges completely from federal collateral review.
We conclude that judicial immunity is not a bar to prospective injunctive relief against a judicial officer acting in her
Petitioner insists that judicial immunity bars a fee award because attorney's fees are the functional equivalent of monetary damages and monetary damages indisputably are prohibited by judicial immunity. She reasons that the chilling effect of a damages award is no less chilling when the award is denominated attorney's fees.
There is, perhaps, some logic to petitioner's reasoning.
The weakness in it is that it is for Congress, not this Court, to determine whether and to what extent to abrogate the judiciary's common-law immunity. See Pierson v. Ray, 386 U. S., at 554. Congress has made clear in § 1988 its intent that attorney's fees be available in any action to enforce a provision of § 1983. See also Hutto v. Finney, 437 U.S. 678, 694 (1978). The legislative history of the statute confirms Congress' intent that an attorney's fee award be available even when damages would be barred or limited by "immunity doctrines and special defenses, available only to public officials." H. R. Rep. No. 94-1558, p. 9 (1976).
Congress' intent could hardly be more plain. Judicial immunity is no bar to the award of attorney's fees under 42 U. S. C. § 1988.
The judgment of the Court of Appeals, allowing the award of attorney's fees against petitioner, is therefore affirmed.
It is so ordered.
JUSTICE POWELL, with whom THE CHIEF JUSTICE, JUSTICE REHNQUIST, and JUSTICE O'CONNOR join, dissenting.
The Court today reaffirms the rule that judges are immune from suits for damages, but holds that they may be sued for injunctive and declaratory relief and held personally liable for money judgments in the form of costs and attorney's fees merely on the basis of erroneous judicial decisions. The basis for the Court's distinction finds no support in common law and in effect eviscerates the doctrine of judicial immunity that the common law so long has accepted as absolute.
The Court recognizes that the established principle of judicial immunity serves as the bulwark against threats to "independent judicial decisionmaking," ante, at 531. Yet, at the same time it concludes that judicial immunity does not bar suits for injunctive or declaratory relief with the attendant claims for costs and attorney's fees. The Court reasons that "[f]or the most part, injunctive relief against a judge raises concerns different from those addressed by the protection of judges from damages awards." Ante, at 537. This case illustrates the unsoundness of that reasoning. The Court affirms a $7,691.09 money judgment awarded against a state Magistrate on the determination that she made erroneous judicial decisions with respect to bail and pretrial detentions. Such a
Since 1869, this Court consistently has held that judges are absolutely immune from civil suits for damages. See, e. g., Stump v. Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349 (1978); Pierson v. Ray, 386 U.S. 547 (1967); Bradley v. Fisher, 13 Wall. 335 (1872); Randall v. Brigham, 7 Wall. 523 (1869). We have had no occasion, however, to determine whether judicial immunity bars a § 1983 suit for prospective relief. See Supreme Court of Virginia v. Consumers Union of United States, Inc., 446 U.S. 719, 735 (1980).
The doctrine of judicial immunity is one of the earliest products of the English common law.
The early opinions of this Court echo the principal justification for the immunity doctrine articulated at English common law. In Bradley v. Fisher, supra, the emphasis was on the
Addressing the need for judicial independence, the Court therefore concluded:
The justification for the immunity doctrine emphasized in Bradley has been repeated in subsequent decisions by this Court. See, e. g., Pierson v. Ray, 386 U. S., at 554; Butz v. Economou, 438 U.S. 478, 512 (1978). In these cases as well, the burdens of litigation, rather than the threat of pecuniary loss, are cited as posing a threat to judicial independence and occasioning the need for immunity. These burdens apply equally to all suits against judges for allegedly erroneous or malicious conduct. It is immaterial whether the relief sought is an injunction as in this case, or damages as in Pierson v. Ray or Stump v. Sparkman. Indeed, the Court today, largely ignoring that it was the burden of litigation that motivated the common-law immunity, makes no argument to the contrary. Unless the rationale of Bradley and
The Court nevertheless argues that the common law of England can be viewed as supporting the absence of immunity where the suit is for injunctive relief. The Court concedes, as it must, that suits for injunctive relief against a judge could not be maintained either at English common law or in the English courts of equity. Ante, at 529. Injunctive relief from inequitable proceedings at common law was available in equity "to stay [a common-law] trial; or, after verdict, to stay judgment; or, after judgment, to stay execution." J. Story, Equity Jurisprudence ¶ 874, p. 72 (11th ed. 1873). But such relief was available only against the parties to the common-law proceedings and not against the judge. Id., ¶ 875, at 72. The suit for injunctive relief at issue here is precisely the type of suit that the Court concedes could not have been maintained either at common law or in equity. The Court, however, reasons that the writs of prohibition and mandamus present a "common-law parallel to the § 1983 injunction at issue here." Ante, at 529.
The prerogative writs of mandamus and prohibition are simply not analogous to suits for injunctive relief from the judgments of common-law courts, and the availability of these writs against judicial officials has nothing to do with judicial immunity. It has long been recognized at common law that judicial immunity protects only those acts committed within the proper scope of a judge's jurisdiction, but provides no protection for acts committed in excess of jurisdiction.
The Court's observation that prerogative writs may have been used at English common law to correct errors of judgment rather than excesses of jurisdiction is irrelevant to the case at bar. We "rely on the common-law practice in shaping our own doctrine of judicial immunity," ante, at 536, only to the extent that the common-law practices consulted are consistent with our own judicial systems. The Court's reliance on English common-law practice ignores this constraint. It was the rivalry between the English temporal and spiritual courts that induced the King's Bench to adopt the myth that
Nor is there any indication that the expansive use of prerogative writs in England modified the doctrine of judicial immunity in this country.
Accord, Cotler v. Inter-County Orthopaedic Assn., 530 F.2d 536, 538 (CA3 1976).
In sum, the perceived analogy to the use of prerogative writs at English common law simply does not withstand analysis. As shown above, the analogy rests on a peculiar practice at English common law that was occasioned by the unique relationship between the King's Bench and England's ecclesiastical courts. That relationship finds no parallel in this country. Moreover, our courts, and the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure, have sought to limit the use of mandamus and prohibition for the very purpose of protecting judicial immunity. It is extraordinary, therefore, that the Court today should rely on the use of prerogative writs in England to justify exposing judicial officials in this country to harassing litigation and to subject them to personal liability for money judgments in the form of costs and attorney's fees.
The Court suggests that the availability of injunctive relief under § 1983 poses no serious "risk that judges will be harassed and their independence compromised by the threat of having to defend themselves against suits by disgruntled litigants." Ante, at 537-538. The reasons advanced for this optimism are that equitable relief will be unavailable unless the plaintiff can show "an inadequate remedy at law and . . . a serious risk of irreparable harm." Ibid. Again, this suit refutes the Court's argument. Adequate remedies were expressly available to each of the respondents under state law.
As discussed, both the English common-law cases and the decisions of this Court identify the burdens of harassing litigation, rather than the threat of pecuniary loss, as threatening judicial independence. In suits for injunctive relief, just as in suits for damages, the likely scenario was well stated by one of the justices in Taaffe v. Downes:
The ever-present threat of burdensome litigation, made realistic by today's decision, may well influence judicial determinations, particularly in close cases where the decision is likely to be unpopular.
Finally, harassing litigation and its potential for intimidation increases in suits where the prevailing plaintiff is entitled to attorney's fees. Perhaps for understandable reasons, the Court's opinion passes lightly over the effect of § 1988. In fact, that provision has become a major additional source of litigation. Since its enactment in 1976, suits against state
In sum, I see no principled reason why judicial immunity should bar suits for damages but not for prospective injunctive relief. The fundamental rationale for providing this protection to the judicial office — articulated in the English cases and repeated in decisions of this Court — applies equally to both types of asserted relief. The underlying principle, vital to the rule of law, is assurance of judicial detachment and independence. Nor is the Court's decision today in the broader public interest that the doctrine of absolute immunity is intended to serve. Bradley, 13 Wall., at 349.
The District Court declared both § 19.2-74 and § 19.2-74.1 unconstitutional "[t]o the extent that [they] authorize the incarceration of persons charged with misdemeanors for which no jail time is authorized, solely because they cannot meet bond." App. 22. It enjoined petitioner from "[t]he practice and course of conduct in Culpeper County, Virginia, under which persons are confined prior to trial on offenses for which no jail time is authorized solely because they cannot meet bond." Id., at 23.
Although the District Court concluded that respondents had been held in jail "solely because of their inability to make bail," id., at 26, it also directed that "[a]ny pretrial detention for persons arrested for Class 3 and Class 4 misdemeanors on the grounds that the person is lawfully deemed likely to be a danger to himself or to others may last only so long as such danger persists and must cease when the condition which created the danger changes or abates, or arrangements are made for release of the person into third-party custody under circumstances which abate the danger." Id., at 22.
The Eighth Circuit at one time seems to have taken contradictory positions on whether judges are immune from declaratory and injunctive relief. Compare Koen v. Long, 428 F.2d 876 (1970), aff'g 302 F.Supp. 1383, 1389 (ED Mo. 1969) (no immunity), cert. denied, 401 U.S. 923 (1971), with Smallwood v. United States, 486 F.2d 1407 (1973), aff'g without opinion, 358 F.Supp. 398, 403 (ED Mo.) (immunity), and Tate v. Arnold, 223 F.2d 782, 786 (1955) (same). That court indicated in 1975, however, that "[t]his circuit has never decided whether those enjoying judicial immunity from damage suits are similarly immune from suits seeking equitable and injunctive relief," see Bonner v. Circuit Court of St. Louis, Missouri, 526 F.2d 1331, 1334, and it now expressly has declined to do so. See R. W. T. v. Dalton, 712 F.2d 1225, 1232, n. 9 (1983).
Similar use of the writ can be found in more recent cases. In King v. North,  1 K. B. 491 (1926), a vicar had been ordered by the Consistory Court to pay for the restoration of a fresco he was alleged to have caused to be painted over. He sought a writ of prohibition, claiming that he had had no notice or opportunity to be heard. The court concluded that deprivation of property without notice and an opportunity to be heard was contrary to the general laws of the land, and granted the prohibition.
"This writ may issue either to inferior courts of common law; as, to the courts of the counties palatine or principality of Wales, if they hold plea of land or other matters not lying within their respective franchises; to the county-courts or courts baron, where they attempt to hold plea of any matter of the value of forty shillings: or it may be directed to the courts christian, the university courts, the court of chivalry, or the court of admiralty, where they concern themselves with any matter not within their jurisdiction: as if the first should attempt to try the validity of a custom pleaded, or the latter a contract made or to be executed within this kingdom. Or, if, in handling of matters clearly within their cognizance, they transgress the bounds prescribed to them by the laws of England; as where they require two witnesses to prove the payment of a legacy, a release of tithes, or the like; in such cases also a prohibition will be awarded. For, as the fact of signing a release, or of actual payment, is not properly a spiritual question, but only allowed to be decided in those courts, because incident or accessory to some original question clearly within their jurisdiction; it ought therefore, where the two laws differ, to be decided not according to the spiritual, but the temporal law; else the same question might be determined different ways, according to the court in which the suit is depending: an impropriety, which no wise government can or ought to endure, and which is therefore a ground of prohibition. And if either the judge or the party shall proceed after such prohibition, an attachment may be had against them, to punish them for the contempt, at the discretion of the court that awarded it; and an action will lie against them, to repair the party injured in damages." 3 W. Blackstone, Commentaries [*]112-[*]113 (footnotes omitted).
Whether or not the judge is required to appear personally in the proceeding, see the dissent, post, at 552, he remains a party to the suit and risks contempt for violating the writ. See In re Smith, 2 Cal.App. 158, 83 P. 167 (1905); State v. Williams, 7 Rob. 252 (La. 1844); People ex rel. Bristol v. Pearson, 4 Ill. 270 (1841). And although courts properly are reluctant to impose costs against a judge for actions taken in good-faith performance of his judicial responsibilities, a court, in its discretion, may award costs against a respondent judge. See State ex rel. Clement v. Grzezinski, 158 Ohio St. 22, 106 N.E.2d 779 (1952).
The fact that "[t]here has been no showing to this effect," post, at 554, n. 13, is hardly a sufficient basis for rejecting the relief awarded here or for questioning the effectiveness of the limitations on equitable relief in curtailing the risk of harassment from suits for such relief. What the dissenters ignore is that petitioner did not challenge the relief awarded against her. "There has been no showing" because respondents never have been called on to make such a showing.
For similar reasons, there is no merit to the dissenters' insistence that the scope of the injunctive order entered here illustrates the threat to judicial independence inherent in allowing injunctive relief against judges. See post, at 554-555. In the first place, the dissenters' interpretation of the District Court's order is by no means compelled by the language of that order. The order merely declared the constitutional limits on pretrial detention for dangerousness. There was no suggestion before the District Court that petitioner had misapplied the provision for pretrial detention for dangerousness. Accordingly, petitioner was enjoined only from the "practice and course of conduct in Culpeper County, Virginia, under which persons are confined prior to trial on offenses for which no jail time is authorized solely because they cannot meet bond." App. to Pet. for Cert. 11. No judgment calls are required in following the court's order that petitioner no longer impose bond for offenses for which no incarceration is authorized by statute. More important, to the extent that the scope of the District Court's order may be unclear, that issue should have been raised by appeal from the injunctive relief, where, had petitioner demonstrated that the injunctive relief ordered against her was too intrusive, the Court of Appeals no doubt would have ordered the District Court to tailor its relief more narrowly. See O'Shea v. Littleton, supra.
"[I]n The Case of the Marshalsea, `a difference was taken when a court has jurisdiction of the cause, and proceeds . . . erroneously, there . . . no action lies [against a judge]. . . . But when the court has not jurisdiction of the cause, then the whole proceeding is coram non judice, and actions [against the judge] will lie' " (quoting Case of the Marshalsea, 10 Co. Rep. 68b, 76a, 77 Eng. Rep. 1027, 1038 (K. B. 1613)).
See also Bradley v. Fisher, 13 Wall. 335, 351-353 (1872).
"`[I]t is agreed that the judges in the king's superior courts are not liable to answer personally for their errors in judgment. . . . [I]n courts of special and limited jurisdiction . . . a distinction must be made, but while acting within the line of their authority they are protected as to errors in judgment; otherwise they are not protected.' " 6 Holdsworth, supra, at 239, n. 4 (quoting Miller v. Seare, 2 Bl. W. 1141, 1145, 96 Eng. Rep. 673, 674-675 (K. B. 1777)).
"The idea that to misapply or fail to apply substantive . . . law affects a judicial tribunal's jurisdiction, even when it acts within its province, is now generally recognized as wrong. That there was at one time doubt upon the point was due to the former hostility of the King's Bench toward . . . the ecclesiastical Courts. Although the King's Bench admitted it could not redress mere error in such Courts, it could, of course, restrain their excesses of jurisdiction through the writ of prohibition. And under the pretext that it was merely keeping them within their jurisdiction, it issued prohibitions to these Courts whenever they applied or construed any statute in a way the King's Bench did not approve of." (Footnotes omitted.)
See also 3 W. Blackstone, Commentaries [*]113-[*]115; Dobbs, The Decline of Jurisdiction By Consent, 40 N. C. L. Rev. 49, 60-61 (1961).
"If the judge or judges named respondents do not desire to appear in the proceeding, they may so advise the clerk and all parties by letter, but the petition shall not thereby be taken as admitted."
Indeed, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has not even required that the judge be joined as a party. In United States v. King, 157 U. S. App. D. C. 179, 183, 482 F.2d 768, 772 (1973), the court reasoned: "In the federal courts, when the purpose of mandamus is to secure a ruling on the intrinsic merits of a judicial act, the judge need not — and desirably should not — be named as an active party, but at most only as a nominal party with no real interest in the outcome."