Southern District of New York: Judge has Absolute Immunity
You still cannot sue the judge. A judge basically has Absolute Immunity which means protection from lawsuit(s), even civil rights lawsuits. From bias to Court Ordered Castration, the law is clear but clients still inquire whether a judge can be sued. In BUHANNIC v. Friedman, Dist. Court, SD New York 2019, the Southern District of New York Court reiterated the oft cited standard that a litigant cannot sue a judge for acts performed in his or her judicial capacity.
The Southern District of New York discusses the underlying commercial litigation to which the Defendant is a sitting judge. “Plaintiff is a French citizen who has created businesses in the Finance and Technology industries around the world, including in the United States.” Plaintiff originally filed a claim in state court, the defendant here being that judge. The state court action dealt with a business dealing which involved a conspiracy resulting in the Plaintiff’s being fired and removed from a company that Plaintiff co-founded with his brother. The Southern Ditsrict of New York Court notes that “[b]etween the time Plaintiff commenced the State Action and the present action, he was represented by four consecutive sets of counsel, all of whom withdrew, and Justice Friedman held several conferences and ruled on 18 motion sequences.” As the state case degenerated, our Defendant judge made a few rulings against the Plaintiff before “Plaintiff filed a motion seeking Justice Friedman's refusal due to her purported bias against him on the basis of his national origin and pro se status. Justice Friedman denied the motion on December 6, 2018, and continues to preside over the action.” This action was subsequently commenced.
The Doctrine of Judicial Immunity:
"Few doctrines were more solidly established at common law than the immunity of judges from liability for damages for acts committed within their judicial jurisdiction[.]" Pierson v. Ray, 386 U.S. 547, 553-554 (1967). In fact, "[a]s early as 1872, the Supreme Court recognized that it was a general principle of the highest importance . . . that a judicial officer, in exercising the authority vested in h[er], should be free to act upon h[er] own convictions, without apprehension of personal consequences to h[er]self." Stump v. Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349, 355 (1978). Were judges required to face the fear "that unsatisfied litigants may hound [them] with litigation charging malice or corruption[,]" this would result in "intimidation" rather than "principled and fearless decisionmaking." Pierson, 386 U.S. at 554. Thus, for decades courts have found that judges are absolutely immune from suit for damages for any actions taken within the scope of their judicial responsibilities, and accordingly, "even allegations of bad faith or malice cannot overcome judicial immunity." Bliven v. Hunt, 579 F.3d 204, 209 (2d Cir. 2009) ("[J]udges generally have absolute immunity from suits for money damages for their judicial actions."); Mireles v. Waco, 502 U.S. 9, 11 (1991).
A Judge basically cannot be sued civilly. Although judges have deviated from their role on the bench, from a common driving under the influence charge to some of the more serious charges faced by charges, their judicial deviations.
Pursuant to Stump v. Sparkman, an act is judicial in nature when "it is a function normally performed by a judge," and when the parties "dealt with the judge in [her] judicial capacity." 435 U.S. at 362. The Second Circuit also looks to state law to determine whether these factors are present in a given case. Huminski, 396 F.3d at 76. Justice Friedman's decisions to deny Plaintiff's various motions in the State Action are quintessential judicial acts. See id. at 75-76 ("Clearly, the paradigmatic judicial act is the resolution of a dispute between parties who have invoked the jurisdiction of the court."); Tarter v. State, 68 N.Y.2d 511, 518-519 (1988) (characterizing decisions involving a judge's application of law and exercise of judgment as "classically judicial tasks"). Justice Friedman is therefore immune from attack on the propriety of her rulings on Plaintiff's motions. To the extent Plaintiff's § 1983 claim is premised on Justice Friedman's conduct at hearings and conferences, such conduct also constitutes judicial action. See Rios v. Third Precinct Bay Share, No. 08-CV-4641 (JFB)(ETB), 2009 WI, 2601303, at * 3 (E.D.N.Y. Aug. 20, 2009) (presiding over hearings is a judicial act); Cameron v. Wise, No. 09 Civ. 967(PKC)(JLC), 2011 WL 1496341, at *9 (S.D.N.Y. Apr. 20, 2011) (same), report and recommendation adopted, No. 09 Civ. 967(PKC)(JLC), 2011 WI, 3479295 (S.D.N.Y. Aug. 4, 2011).
The case is dismissed and the plaintiff is barred from filing another lawsuit, the Southern District of New York so holding that “better pleading cannot alter the fact that Defendant is immune from this suit.” (citing Bernstein v. New York, 591 F. Supp. 448, 469-470 (S.D.N.Y. 2008) (denying leave to amend where judicial and qualified immunity applied to defendants)).
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