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Posts Tagged ‘law’

Can You Even Do That? What Happens When a Judge is Sued and the Defense of Absolute Judicial Immunity is Raised

Posted on: February 6th, 2019

By: Jake Loken

It is a rare sight to see a judge being sued, so what happens when one is? The process is generally the same as any other lawsuit, but one important doctrine can get in the way: absolute judicial immunity.

The doctrine of absolute judicial immunity was recently discussed in McCullough v. Finley, 907 F.3d 1324 (11th Cir. 2018). In McCullough, residents of Alabama sued municipal judges, along with a mayor and two police chiefs. The residents alleged the judges had violated federal anti-peonage statutes, which prohibit forced labor by coercive means, and the law of false imprisonment by “unlawfully depriving them of their liberty for their failure to pay fines.”

In response, the judges asserted absolute judicial immunity, but the district court denied immunity. Normally, only final decisions can be appealed, but when a district court denies the defense of absolute judicial immunity, this denial may be immediately appealed as a “final decision.” The denial is a “final decision” because if the court would allow the defense of immunity to stand, then the case would end, as immunity would prevent the suit from moving forward against the judges.

In reviewing the denial of absolute judicial immunity, the Court worked through a four-factor analysis “to determine whether the nature and functions of the alleged acts [were] judicial.” The Court found that the judges’ acts were judicial as they involved sentencing the residents to jail time, which is a normal judicial function that occurred in court.

The Court also determined the judges did not act in the “‘clear absence of all jurisdiction,’” because “[a] judge acts in ‘clear absence of jurisdiction’ only if he lacked subject matter-jurisdiction.” The Court made it clear that only in “rare circumstance[s]” would immunity not apply.

When a judge is sued, the judge can raise the powerful defense of absolute judicial immunity. So to answer the question found in the title, “can you even do that?”—with “that” being sue a judge—yes, a judge can be sued, but absolute judicial immunity can stop the suit in its tracks.

If you have any questions about this case, absolute judicial immunity, or other types of immunity, please contact Jake Loken at [email protected].

California Becomes Third State to Limit Access to Employees’ Social Media Accounts

Posted on: October 1st, 2012

By: David Cole

On Thursday, Governor Jerry Brown signed a new law that significantly limits when California employers may ask employees and job applicants for social media information.  Under the new law, an employer cannot require or request an employee or job applicant to disclose his username or password, access a social media account in front of the employer, or share any social media content with the employer.  However, there is an exception that allows an employer to ask an employee to divulge social media that is reasonably believed to be relevant to an investigation of allegations of employee misconduct or employee violation of applicable laws and regulations, provided that the social media is used solely for purposes of that investigation or a related proceeding.  The new law takes effect January 1, 2013.

With this new law, California joins Maryland and Illinois as the first states to have laws restricting employer access to employees’ social media accounts.  Fittingly, Governor Brown announced the new law via Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, and MySpace, saying that this law, and a companion law that establishes a similar privacy policy for postsecondary education students, will “protect Californians from unwarranted invasions of their social media accounts.”