Legal Definition of Color
A wrong committed by an officer under the pretended authority of his office; in some cases the act amounts to a misdemeanor, and the party may then be indicted.5 min read
A wrong committed by an officer under the pretended authority of his office; in some cases the act amounts to a misdemeanor, and the party may then be indicted. In other cases, the remedy to redress the wrong is by an action. For example Section 1983, et sec. civil rights actions often include allegations that the defendants were acting under color of state law.
Pleading. It is of two kinds, namely, express color and implied color.
What Is Express Color?
Express Color. This is defined to be a feigned matter, pleaded by the defendant, in an action of trespass, from which the plaintiff seems to have a good cause of action, whereas he has in truth only an appearance or color of cause. The practice of giving express color in pleas, obtained in the mixed actions of assize, the writ of entry in the nature of assize, as well as in the personal action of trespass.
It is a general rule in pleading that no man shall be allowed to plead specially such plea as amounts to the general issue, or a total denial of the charges contained in the declaration and must in such cases plead the general issue in terms by which the whole question is referred to the jury; yet, if the defendant in an action of trespass be desirous to refer the validity of his title to the court, rather than to the jury, he may in his plea stated his title specially, by expressly giving color of title to the plaintiff, or supposing him to have an appearance of title had indeed in point of law, but of which the jury are not competent judges.
Example of Express Color
Suppose, for example, that the plaintiff was in wrongful possession of the close, without any further appearance of title than the possession itself, at the time of the trespass alleged, and that the defendants entered upon him in assertion of their title; but being unable to set forth this title in the pleading in consequence of the objection that would arise for want of color, are driven to plead the general issue of not guilty.
By this plea an issue is produced whether the defendants are guilty or not of the trespass; but upon the trial of the issue, it will be found that the question turns entirely upon a construction of law. The defendants say they are not guilty of the trespasses because they are not guilty of breaking the close of the plaintiff as alleged in the declaration; and that they are not guilty of breaking the close of the plaintiff because they themselves had the property in that close; and their title is this; that the father of one of the defendants being seised of the close in fee, gave it in tail to his eldest son, remainder in tail to one of the defendants; the eldest son was disseised, but made continual claim till the death of the disseisor; after whose death, the descent being cast upon the heir, the disseisee entered upon the heir and afterwards died, when the remainder took effect in the said defendant who demised to the other defendant.