Unpublished Disposition, 879 F.2d 866 (9th Cir. 1989)

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U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit - 879 F.2d 866 (9th Cir. 1989)

Donald Ray SIDENER, Plaintiff-Appellant,v.DEPARTMENT OF STATE POLICE; James E. Davis; GriffithHolland, Defendants-Appellees.

No. 88-4181.

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.

Submitted*  June 29, 1989.Decided July 5, 1989.

Before FERGUSON, BRUNETTI and O'SCANNLAIN, Circuit Judges.


Sidener appeals from a summary judgment in favor of an Oregon State Trooper against whom he seeks damages under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 based upon his allegation that the trooper testified falsely in Sidener's grand jury proceeding. In granting summary judgment, the district court adopted the magistrate's recommendation that the trooper was entitled to absolute immunity. Sidener argues that this conclusion is erroneous. We affirm.


The Deschutes County Grand Jury returned an indictment against Sidener for unlawful possession of a controlled substance based on the testimony of Davis, an Oregon State Trooper. Davis, who had participated in a drug buy which formed the basis of the indictment, appeared as the sole grand jury witness against Sidener. According to Sidener, Davis knew that Sidener did not match the physical description of the unnamed suspect Davis saw during the drug buy, but that Davis nevertheless testified to the contrary and stated that Sidener did match the description.

As a result of the indictment returned against him, Sidener spent approximately four days in jail as well as a sum of money for legal fees. Eventually, the Deschutes County District Attorney dismissed the indictment.

Sidener then filed this action against Davis1  under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, seeking damages for deprivation of his fourth amendment rights that allegedly resulted from his imprisonment without probable cause. A federal magistrate found that Davis should be granted absolute immunity as to his grand jury testimony, and thus recommended that summary judgment be entered against Sidener. The district court adopted the magistrate's findings and recommendations in full. Sidener appeals.


Sidener alleges that the district court erroneously adopted the magistrate's finding that a police officer is entitled to absolute immunity in a claim for damages under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Recently, and subsequent to the filing of the briefs in this action, however, we granted absolute immunity to a federal official under circumstances almost identical to those which exist here. Little v. City of Seattle, 863 F.2d 681 (9th Cir. 1988). In Little, the director of a federally-funded youth program brought a section 1983 claim against an investigator from the United States Department of Labor. Plaintiff alleged that the defendant-investigator had made improper findings regarding plaintiff's misappropriation of federal funds, and that these findings, which were then presented to the grand jury, played a key role in its returning an indictment. We stated:

The policy for granting immunity to trial witnesses involves avoidance of intimidation and self-censorship. Granting immunity also prevents interference in the performance of governmental witness's duties by avoiding wasteful and time consuming litigation. These policy considerations are equally applicable to grand jury testimony. Other circuits have applied [absolute immunity] to grand jury witnesses. [Defendant] is immune from damages for his testimony before the grand jury.

Id. at 684 (citations omitted).

Despite the fact that Little involved a federal investigator and not a state trooper, we find that the unconditional nature and breadth of the language cited above as well as overlapping policy considerations compel extending absolute immunity to Davis.



The panel unanimously finds this case suitable for submission on the record and briefs and without oral argument. Fed. R. App. P. 34(a), Ninth Circuit Rule 34-4


This disposition is not appropriate for publication and may not be cited to or by the courts of this circuit except as provided by Ninth Circuit Rule 36-3


Sidener's suit also originally named the Oregon Department of State Police and Griffith Holland, in favor of whom the district court granted summary judgment. Sidener does not appeal the district court ruling as to these two defendants