The WSJ reports:
People who believe they have been wronged by a judge can ask the judge to reconsider, appeal to a higher court or, if they suspect judicial wrongdoing, ask a bar association to investigate.I am afraid that this doctrine is likely to remain. Judges like these crooked Penn. judges and Commissioner Irwin H. Joseph can rule with corrupt or malicious intent, and be sheltered from lawsuits.
But one thing people can't generally do is sue. The rationale behind the notion -- called absolute judicial immunity -- is straightforward: Judges shouldn't have to defend themselves in court whenever they issue a ruling that makes someone unhappy.
But a set of civil lawsuits filed against two former Pennsylvania judges is testing the doctrine of judicial immunity. ...
Lawyers for one group of plaintiffs, for example, say that Judge Ciavarella decided that a 15-year-old with no prior record committed a third-degree misdemeanor when she created a MySpace page that mocked her high-school assistant principal. After the girl admitted to the act, without a lawyer present, she was led out of the courtroom in shackles and held in a treatment facility for a month. ...
According to Arthur Hellman, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh, judicial immunity doesn't protect judges from suits stemming from administrative decisions made while off the bench, like hiring and firing decisions. But immunity generally does extend to all judicial decisions in which the judge has proper jurisdiction, he says, even if a decision is made with "corrupt or malicious intent."
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