I have been looking without immediate success for references speaking to the Sovereign Immunity Doctrine exceptions, especially with respect to financial crimes. Take embezzlement for one example. Misuse use of public funds for another. Fraud as a third.

I am also looking for the same class of information with respect to Civil Rights violations.

Any references or better search terms will be appreciated.

Add on Unlawful Practice of Law.

Would Sovereign Immunity apply to a public employee engaging in it?

  • If Delaware decided to unconstitutionally seize your home, you could file a case in federal court demanding they return it, but Delaware couldn't be charged with a crime. The criminal code simply isn't written that way.
    – D M
    Mar 9 '19 at 1:51
  • Does biotech.law.lsu.edu/map/… help answer your questions?
    – D M
    Mar 9 '19 at 3:15

Sovereign Immunity means you cannot sue the state itself. It does not apply to an employee or official of the state who is doing something not authorized by state law. Presumably no law authorizes the state to embezzle, or to commit fraud. So if someone does that, even acting with purported governmental authority, that person is simply a criminal who is also a corrupt state employee or official. No Sovereign Immunity applies.

In a Civil Rights case with merit, either someone acting in the name of the state has violated the law, or the law itself was unconstitutional, so in either case the action was ultimately not lawful, and again Sovereign Immunity does not apply.

Sovereign Immunity does not block suits in which it is claimed that governmental action, state or federal, violates law or (n the US) the Federal Constitution (or a state constitution). Such suit may win or lose, but it can be brought.

I don't see how Sovereign Immunity could apply to an UPL case. A government makes law, but it does not practice law.

  • Very helpful. Thanks
    – Mike
    Mar 10 '19 at 22:14

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