Monday, July 28, 2014
Man Can't Sue Judge Who Had Affair With His Wife During Child-Support Case
That's the ruling of the Sixth Circuit Appeals court in a case brought by a Detroit man against disgraced Wayne County former judge Wade McCree Jr.
McCree, the son of the first black Justice to sit on the Sixth Circuit was disrobed and lost his judgeship for cute tricks like propositioning bailiffs, having sex in his chambers, trading sex for judicial rulings, sending inappropriate selfies and other misconduct was being sued by a Detroit man who the former judge slapped with outrageously high child support payments - while Judge McCree was having an affair with the other litigant in the case, the man's former wife. Mccree was sexting her from the bench, having sex with her in his judicial chambers and actively enjoying an affair that ultimately ended in an abortion.
The Michigan Supreme Court removed him from the bench and he was subsequently suspended without pay for 6 years, something the Michigan Supreme Court imposed because they honestly thought McCree could easily win reelection on racial grounds in Wayne County regardless of his carrying on.
But the Sixth Circuit held that Judge McCree couldn’t be sued civilly for any harms he caused while on the bench, regardless of his record.
According to the strict letter of the law, they're correct. Judicial civil immunity was upheld in Bradley v. Fisher, 80 U.S. 335, 348 (1871):
If civil actions could be maintained… against the judge, because the losing party should see fit to allege in his complaint that the acts of the judge were done with partiality, or maliciously, or corruptly, the protection essential to judicial independence would be entirely swept away.
Since then, courts have consistently ruled against plaintiffs attempting to sue judges.
There have been a few successful cases (In 1996 in Tennessee, a juvenile court judge who was accused of violating the civil rights of three women by sexually assaulting them and threatening to take their kids away if they reported it was denied judicial immunity by the same 6th Circuit) but not many.
Detroit attorney Joel Sklar, who represented the plaintiff in this case wants to take it to the Supreme Court.
“This conduct is absurd,” Sklar said. “It’s so beyond description. A judge uses his chambers to have sex with a litigant? ... If this isn’t too far, what is too far?”
There has been a movement, albeit a small one to waive judicial immunity in cases where a judge's misconduct has caused him to be removed from th ebench. We'll see if the Supremes hear this one.