South-Western Legal Studies in Business

Judges Have Absolute Immunity Against Suit for Damages for Official Actions
Description A district court dismissed a suit against a bankruptcy judge and a district judge for conspiracy to help attorneys defraud a person in bankruptcy proceedings out of a large payment. The court held that there is absolute immunity against such suit; complaints about judicial misconduct are subject to specific review procedures.
Topic Court Procedure
Key Words Judicial Immunity; Bankruptcy
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Bryan, who was in bankruptcy, contended that his bankruptcy attorneys engaged in fraud to obtain $30,000 from him and that the bankruptcy judge and federal district judge conspired with them to protect them. He sued the federal district judge and bankruptcy judge for conspiracy and for violating his civil rights. He also sued the U.S. attorney who acted on behalf of the judges by filing a motion to dismiss the suit.
Decision

Case dismissed. "Judges are absolutely immune from civil liability for damages for acts taken in their judicial capacity. …although federal judges cannot be sued for acts taken in their judicial capacity, they are not free to engage in corruption at will. Inferior federal judges, such as magistrate and district court judges, are always subject to appellate review. …corruption cannot run rampant among federal judges, as specific procedures exist for the public to lodge complaints about federal judges. These complaints are reviewed and investigated, with appropriate action being taken on sustained complaints."

Citation Bryan v. Murphy, --- F.Supp.2d --- (2003 WL 272154, N.D., Ga., 2003)

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