Richmond Allen (plaintiff) was arrested for using vulgar language, for which the maximum penalty was a $500 fine. Gladys Pulliam (defendant), a magistrate for a state court in Virginia, set Allen’s bond at $250. Allen was unable to pay the bond, and Pulliam put him in county jail. Allen stayed in jail for 14 days until he was tried and released. Allen filed suit against Pulliam, alleging that she violated 42 U.S.C. § 1983 by incarcerating Allen for a crime that carried a maximum sentence of a fine and no jail time. Allen sought injunctive and declaratory relief. The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia found in favor of Allen and enjoined Pulliam’s practice of jailing individuals if they could not post bond. Pulliam appealed, arguing that judicial immunity barred Allen’s suit. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.