Absolute Privilege Illinois

In Williams vs. Fischer, 221 Ill.App.3d. 117, 581 N.E.2d. 744, 163 Ill.Dec. 590 (1991), the Fifth District Appellate Court extended absolute immunity to the Coroner of Marion County, Illinois, in a defamation action for statements publicized by the Coroner in reference to a cause of death. The Court stated as follows: Under the common law of Illinois, an official of the executive branch of state or local government cannot be held liable for statements made within the scope of his official duties. (Dolatowski vs. Life Printing and Publishing Co., (1990), 197 Ill. App. 3d 23, 28, 554 N.E.2d 692, 695, 143 Ill. Dec. 757.) Defendant here was such an official, and his allegedly defamatory statements were clearly made within the scope of his official duties as County Coroner. What Defendant wrote on Cheatum's death certificates was therefore absolutely privileged and could not serve as the predicate for a civil defamation action against him. 197 Ill.App.3d. at 29, 554 N.E.2d. at 695; Morton vs. Hartigan (1986), 145 Ill.App. 3d. 417, 425-426, 495 N.E.2d. 1159, 1164, 99 Ill. Dec. 424.) In Harris vs. News-Sun, 269 Ill.App.3d. 648, 646 N.E.2d. 8, 206 Ill.Dec. 876 (1995), the Second District Appellate Court affirmed dismissal of actions against law enforcement officials on the basis of absolute privilege. In the Harris case a detective had made comments to news reporters concerning an investigation and arrest. Noting that the statements were made by law enforcement officials in the course of their duties, the Court held that absolute privilege barred the Plaintiff's claims against the Defendants predicated on claims of damage attributable to public statements made by the Defendants.