Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Lawsuits against judges always fail

Occasionally someone suggests suing one of the bad family court judges. The trouble with that tactic is that the lawsuit will be heard by another judge who believes that judges should not be sued.

Here is a recent case, explaining why they do not allow lawsuits against judges:
In this case, there is no debate that Judge David Dean Evans failed to meet the minimum expectations for members of the judiciary: He overreacted to attorney Robert Bright’s criticisms and inappropriately removed Bright from nearly seventy felony cases. The judge’s high-handed actions caused Bright great hardship, but litigation seeking to hold Judge Evans personally liable is not the solution. Generally, we rely upon the judges further up the judicial hierarchy to review and correct the rulings of lower courts. Only in a few circumstances do we allow lawsuits against individual judges to proceed, and for good reason. The specter of facing a lawsuit naturally encourages overly timid judging and presents a direct threat to judicial independence. While Judge Evans’s conduct was worthy of censure, it does not fit within one of the exceptions to absolute judicial immunity; thus, we must REVERSE the district court’s denial of immunity.

Unfortunately for Bright, our case law also requires us to side against him in his lawsuit against the Gallia County Board of Commissioners (“the Board”), the Gallia County Public Defender Commission (“the Commission”), and the Gallia County Criminal Defense Corporation (“the Corporation”). Under Mezibov v. Allen, 411 F.3d 712 (6th Cir. 2005), the First Amendment offers no protection to an attorney for his speech in court. Id. at 716. Without such protection, Bright cannot state a valid claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and we must AFFIRM the district court’s dismissal.
Most judges are somewhat sensitive to their public reputations, and it is legal to try to hold judges accountable by publicly exposing their bad decisions.

Yes, I know that Dan Brewington went to prison for exposing a bad judge, but he is the exception.

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