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Abstract

Section 1983 is the major enforcer of individual federal constitutional rights. It authorizes individuals to enforce their constitutional rights against state and local officials; for example,prison officers and police officers, and against municipalities. It is the most important civil statute in American law. To its credit, the United States Supreme Court understands the significance of § 1983.

For the past three decades, in virtually every single Term of theCourt, it has decided a substantial number of cases dealing with different facets of § 1983 litigation. Last Term, there was anunusual number of § 1983 decisions rendered by the United States Supreme Court, which represent a mixed bag of pro-plaintiff/prodefendant decisions. My own evaluation is that-on the whole-the defendants prevailed on the more important issues.

This Article will discuss the Supreme Court decisions of last Term in six areas of § 1983 litigation: (1) constitutional rights enforceable under § 1983; (2) pleading requirements; (3) supervisory liability; (4) prosecutorial immunity; (5) qualified immunity; and (6) state court § 1983 actions against corrections officers.

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