DSK Asserts Immunity in Civil Lawsuit
Former IMF Chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn has asserted immunity under international law from the lawsuit filed by Nafissatou Diallo, the maid who is accusing him of sexually attacking her.
“Mr. Strauss-Kahn enjoyed absolute immunity under customary international law not only while he was head of the IMF, but also for the period of time after he had resigned from his post and was ordered to remain in the United States in his criminal matter,’’ the Frenchman’s high-powered lawyers said in a sensational motion to dismiss, filed today in Bronx Supreme Court.
“That is because, under applicable and controlling international law, Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s absolute immunity persisted until he was able to leave the United States,” the document said, according to Agence-France-Presse.
I am dubious of this claim for two reasons. It is true that customary international law can be invoked to provide immunity in a U.S. court, even absent a treaty, it is rarely done so and (to my knowledge) has not been done so since most of these rules were codified in statutes and treaties. Second, as Chimene Keitner argued here in an earlier post, DSK has a very weak claim to immunity because the IMF may have waived whatever immunity he might have had and since he was not likely to be acting in his official capacity. Still, there is a plausible argument here, just not a very convincing one. Will it convince the Bronx court judge?