A former prosecutor for Pierce County, Washington was awarded over $3 million last week, after a jury found that she had been wrongfully terminated in January 2004. The prosecutor, Barbara Corey, was a 20-year veteran of the prosecutor’s office. After she announced that she might run for county prosecutor, Corey alleged that County Prosecutor Gerry Horne engaged in repeated discriminatory acts against her, including allegedly “manufacturing” a criminal investigation and leaking information to the media that suggested Corey was fired for mishandling public money. After a four-week trial, the jury awarded Corey $125,000 for lost wages and approximately $3 million in noneconomic damages including defamation-related damages and damage to her reputation.
Prosecutors are largely immune from civil lawsuits, but this decision shows that they can be sued successfully if they are found to be acting outside the scope of their official duties.