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[Latin immunitas, from immunis exempt from public service, exempt, from in- non- + -munis (from munia services)]
1 : exemption from a duty or liability that is granted by law to a person or class of persons [a defendant may not take the stand in his own behalf and then claim from cross-examination "W. R. LaFave and A. W. Scott, Jr."]
: the affirmative defense of having such an exemption
: immunity from all personal civil liability without limits or conditions (as a requirement of good faith) compare qualified immunity in this entry
: immunity from civil liability esp. for negligent torts that is granted to a charitable or nonprofit organization (as a hospital)
: immunity (as from a tax) that is granted or created by a constitution (as the U.S. Constitution)
: immunity from personal liability for tortious acts that is granted to an officer of a corporation who acted in good faith and within the course of his or her duties see also business judgment rule compare pierce
: immunity (as from taxes or prosecution) granted to a diplomat
: qualified immunity from civil liability for tortious acts or omissions that arise from a government employee's discretionary acts performed as part of the employee's duties see also the Federal Tort Claims Act in the Important Laws section NOTE: The Federal Tort Claims Act includes an additional requirement of acting in good faith for the discretionary immunity granted to the federal government.
: immunity granted to officers of the executive branch of government from personal liability for tortious acts or omissions done in the course of carrying out their duties NOTE: While the president's executive immunity is absolute, the immunity of other federal executive officials is qualified.
: discretionary immunity granted to a governmental unit (as an agency) or its employees
: sovereign immunity in this entry
: absolute immunity from civil liability that is granted to judges and other court officers (as prosecutors and grand juries) and quasi-judicial officials for tortious acts or omissions done within the scope of their jurisdiction or authority
: absolute immunity from civil liability that is granted to legislators for tortious acts or omissions done in the course of legislative activities see also speech or debate clause
: discretionary immunity from personal liability that is granted to public officers for tortious acts and omissions compare governmental immunity in this entry
: immunity from civil liability that is conditioned or limited (as by a requirement of good faith or due care)
: official immunity from damages for acts that violate another's civil rights that is granted if it can be shown that the acts do not violate clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would be aware see also Civil Rights Act in the Important Laws section
: the absolute immunity of a sovereign government (as a state) from being sued see also Federal Tort Claims Act in the Important Laws section amendment xi to the Constitution in the back matter NOTE: For an action to be brought against a state or the federal government, sovereign immunity must be waived by the government.
: immunity from criminal prosecution granted to a witness for an offense related to his or her compelled testimony — see also use immunity in this entry
: immunity granted to a witness in a criminal case that prevents the use of the witness's compelled testimony against that witness in a criminal prosecution NOTE: Transactional and use immunity are granted to preserve the constitutional protection against self-incrimination. The states grant either form of this immunity, while the federal government grants only use immunity. A witness with use immunity may still be prosecuted, but only based on evidence not gathered from the protected testimony.
2 : a usually statutory prohibition that excludes specific documents or information from discovery called also discovery immunity
Source: Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law ©1996. Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. Published under license with Merriam-Webster, Incorporated.