Antoine v. Byers & Anderson, Inc – Case Brief Summary (U.S. Supreme Court)

In Antoine v. Byers & Anderson, Inc., 508 U.S. 429, 124 L. Ed. 2d 391, 113 S. Ct. 2167 (1993), the United States Supreme Court resolved a circuit conflict regarding the extent of judicial immunity granted to court reporters -- some circuits had extended absolute immunity to court reporters while others afforded them qualified immunity. See id. at 432 & 432 n.3 (citing cases).

Although the circuit decisions involved various court-reporter functions, Antoine involved the court reporter's potential liability for the courtroom recording of judicial proceedings.

In that context, the Court was unwilling to extend the protection of judicial immunity to court reporters and used the functional approach to determine that court reporters do not exercise discretion or engage in judicial decisionmaking processes. Id. at 436-37.

The Court characterized judicial immunity as extending only to officials whose "judgments are 'functionally comparable' to those of judges" and who "'exercise a discretionary judgment' as a part of their function." Id. at 436.

The Court further noted that the application of the functional approach in granting judicial immunity does not hinge on the importance of the court officer's duty to the judicial process, but rather focuses on the amount of subjective discretion that the officer exercises in the performance of a particular job. See id. at 436-37.

The Court framed its decision broadly and held that court reporters do not exercise the kind of judgment that is protected by the doctrine of judicial immunity. Id. at 437).