A movement is under way in South Dakota to turn the tables on members of the bench. Activists are trying to put a radical measure on next year's ballot that could make South Dakota the first state to let people who believe their rights have been violated by judges put those judges on trial. Citizens could seek damages or criminal charges.Things might be a little different if judges were more directly accountable for what they do. Here is the South Dakota Judicial Accountability site.
The measure would overturn more than a century of settled law in the United States by stripping judges of their absolute immunity from lawsuits over their judicial acts.
"The current system doesn't work because there is no adequate way to hold a given judge accountable for proper behavior or to prevent them from judicial misconduct if they choose to do so," said businessman William Stegmeier, a leader of the movement. ...
The South Dakota amendment would eliminate state judges' immunity in cases involving deliberate violations of the law or someone's constitutional rights or deliberate disregard of the facts.
People could file complaints against judges after the traditional appeals process has concluded. A special grand jury would handle complaints, deciding whether a judge could be sued or face criminal charges.
If the grand jury decides on criminal charges, it could indict the judge and create a special tribunal that would act as both judge and jury, deciding guilt and any sentence. The measure would not apply to federal judges.
Monday, November 14, 2005
Judges May Lose Immunity