official misconduct – a public officer’s violation of duty by malfeasance, misfeasance, or nonfeasance

     This page is continued from Civil Law Self-Help >>>> Section 1 >>>> Torts >>>> Types of Torts >>>> Government Tort:


official misconduct:

1. A public officer’s corrupt violation of assigned duties by malfeasance, misfeasance, or nonfeasance. — aka misconduct in office; misbehavior in office; malconduct in office; misdemeanor in office; corruption in office; official corruption; political corruption. [1]

1. An act constituting a breach of the good faith and right action impliedly required of all public officers.  Etzler v Brown, 58 Fla 221, 50 So 416.

Any act involving moral turpitude, or any act which is contrary to justice, honest, principle, or good morals, if performed by virtue of authority of office.  State v Examining & Trial Board, 43 Mont 399, 117 P 77.

Any unlawful behavior in relation to the duties of his office, willful in its character, of any officer intrusted in any manner with the administration of justice, or the execution of the laws.  Brackenridge v State, 27 Tex App 513, 11 SW 630. [2]

1. Malfeasance in office, misfeasance in office, or nonfeasance. [3]

(16c) n.

1. [French “ill behavior”] Official corruption; misbehavior by an official in the exercise of the duties of the office. [1]

1. Official misconduct; corruption in office. [2]

Related Terms:

feasance – the doing or accomplishment of an act, condition, or obligation.

  • malfeasance – a wrongful, unlawful, or dishonest act; especially, wrongdoing or misconduct by a public official.
  • misfeasance – the performance of a duty or act which one ought or has a right to do, but in a manner such as to infringe upon the rights of others.
  • nonfeasance – the negligent failure to act when a duty to act exists.

abuse of power – misuse or improper exercise one’s authority in a way that is tortious, unlawful, or outside its proper scope.

  • abuse of discretion – an adjudicator or appellate court’s failure to exercise sound, reasonable, and legal decision-making, unsupported by the evidence, thereby leading to a denial of justice.
  • arbitrary and capricious – a concept which permits a court to substitute its judgment for that of an administrative agency’s unreasonable decision which ignores the law or facts of the case. — aka arbitrary.
    • capricious (caprice) – contrary to the evidence or established rules of law; whimsical rather than logistic.

malice exception – a limit on public officials’ qualified immunity, whereby they can face civil liability for willfully exercising discretion in a way that violates a known or well-established right.

  • qualified immunity – a public official’s immunity from civil liability when performing a discretionary function, as long as the conduct does not violate a clearly established constitutional or statutory right. — aka prima facie privilege

abuse of process – improper, intentional, tortious use of civil or criminal process to obtain a result that is either unlawful or beyond the purpose for which such process was designed. — aka abuse of legal process; malicious abuse of process; malicious abuse of legal process; wrongful process; wrongful process of law.

malicious arrest – causing an arrest by maliciously bringing a suit upon false charges, or maliciously making a  false affidavit, or arresting without probable cause for an improper purpose.

malicious defense – defendant’s use of unfair, harassing, or illegal tactics to advance a frivolous or unmeritorious defense.

discovery abuse – misuse of the pretrial discovery process, especially by

(1) requesting unnecessary information;
(2) requesting information for an improper purpose; or
(3) failing to respond adequately to a proper discovery request.

— aka abuse of discovery.

  • sanctions tort – a means of recovery for another party’s discovery abuse, whereby the judge orders the abusive party to pay a fine to the injured party for the discovery violation.

vexatious suit – instituted maliciously and without good grounds, meant to create trouble and expense for the party being sued. — aka vexatious litigation; vexatious lawsuit; vexatious proceeding.

Related Types of Torts:

government tort – committed by the government through an employee, agent, or instrumentality under its control.

constitutional tort – a violation of one’s constitutional rights by a government officer, redressable by a civil action filed directly against the officer.

Filing a Claim Against an Agent or Agency:

Tort-Claims Acta federal or state statute that, under stated circumstances, waives sovereign immunity and allows lawsuits by people who claim they have been injured by the government or its agents and employees; these laws typically require the prospective plaintiff to file a claim before starting litigation, giving the government an opportunity to engage in discovery and, sometimes, settle.


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[1]: Black’s Law Dictionary Deluxe Tenth Edition by Henry Campbell Black, Editor in Chief Bryan A. Garner. ISBN: 978-0-314-61300-4

[2]: Ballantine’s Law Dictionary with Pronunciations
Third Edition by James A. Ballantine (James Arthur 1871-1949).  Edited by William S. Anderson.  © 1969 by THE LAWYER’S CO-OPERATIVE PUBLISHING COMPANY.  Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 68-30931

[3]: Ballantine’s Law Dictionary Legal Assistant Edition by Jack Ballantine (James Arthur 1871-1949).  Doctored by Jack G. Handler, J.D. © 1994 Delmar by Thomson Learning.  ISBN 0-8273-4874-6.


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