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Old 12-06-2017, 11:10 PM
dstarfire dstarfire is offline
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is legal action (civil or criminal) possible for a judges official decisions?

Is there any action that can be taken (by superior courts or other branches of government) against a judge or court when they make a ruling that is both unconstitutional and unusually harmful, or grossly exceeds acceptable conduct?

This is inspired by a recent news story where a court twice issued warrants that involved photographing a minors erect penis to compare them against images he'd sent to his girlfriend. The first search failed to produce the desired results, so a second warrant was granted for medically inducing an erection (chemical injection, didn't happen thanks to public backlash).


Please limit discussion to the legal question. If you want to discuss the the triggering story, create a new thread in the appropriate forum.
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Old 12-06-2017, 11:57 PM
AK84 AK84 is offline
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A Judicial decision can be challenged vide a process laid down by law. Often called (and typically known by lay people) an "Appeal". However, for there to be an Appeal or any type of review, the Judgement/Order needs to be one which is challengable under the law. Supreme Court cases, for instance, are not (with one exception) reviewable. However, even for inferior Courts, not all orders are appealable or reviewable.

For decisions made on the administrative side, typically relating to the functioning of the Court; you could probably petition a higher supervisory Court. However here your standing is probably difficult to establish even if you are directly affected.

Claims made against a Judge for misconduct in his personal capacity will be referred to whatever the regulator for Judges is.

Claims made against a Judge in his personal capacity; as against any other party.

The example in the OP could be challenged if law provides for a review of such an order. In addition in the US a State Court action might be challenged in Federal Court under certain circumstances, though no idea if they'd be attracted here.
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Old 12-07-2017, 01:51 AM
md2000 md2000 is offline
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Regardless of the legal merits of the case and/or qualified immunity, a truly egregious and inappropriate behaviour (at least for federal judges) can as I recall result in the judge being impeached by congress. IIRC they have impeached a few judges, but usually for blatant crimes? But I assume the case under discussion was a state proceeding. Presumably a judge could be charged for violating a person's civil rights just as law enforcement are - assuming that granting a warrant for such an act makes him/her culpable. An article on the case mentioned the DA who applied for the warrants and told the (late) officer to do the actions escaped legal actions with full qualified immunity, so we need to hear more on what does and does not make for "qualified immunity".
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Old 12-07-2017, 03:20 AM
dofe dofe is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by md2000 View Post
Regardless of the legal merits of the case and/or qualified immunity, a truly egregious and inappropriate behaviour (at least for federal judges) can as I recall result in the judge being impeached by congress. IIRC they have impeached a few judges, but usually for blatant crimes? But I assume the case under discussion was a state proceeding. Presumably a judge could be charged for violating a person's civil rights just as law enforcement are - assuming that granting a warrant for such an act makes him/her culpable. An article on the case mentioned the DA who applied for the warrants and told the (late) officer to do the actions escaped legal actions with full qualified immunity, so we need to hear more on what does and does not make for "qualified immunity".
I agree that impeachment and subsequent removal, or sanction by a judicial conduct committee, are realistic ways to deal with alleged misconduct by a judge. However, a charge against a judge for alleged violation of an individual's civil rights is unlikely to succeed, at least in a civil action. Judicial immunity is broad, and the Supreme Court has held that the only times when this immunity doesn't apply is if (1) the action was nonjudicial (i. e., not taken in the judge's judicial capacity) or (2) the action, although judicial, was taken in the complete absence of all jurisdiction. In practice, though, the Supreme Court has generally found judges to be immune from lawsuits, even when the action was arguably egregious. There's a valid reason for judicial immunity, of course -- we want our judges to make decisions based on their professional judgment and understanding of the law, rather than on fear of being sued. Impeachment and sanctions are IMO reasonable checks on judicial immunity.
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Old 12-07-2017, 07:44 AM
Spiderman Spiderman is offline
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Judges can & have committed crimes from the bench for which they pled guilty or were convicted.
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Old 12-07-2017, 12:54 PM
DSYoungEsq DSYoungEsq is offline
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Generally speaking, the remedy for a judge who does things he/she shouldn't is to have them removed from the bench. Roy Moore can give you a serious primer on this, having been removed from the position of Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court twice. The body doing the removing was the Alabama Court of the Judiciary. Most, if not all, states have some similar body that can sanction their judges.
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Old 12-07-2017, 02:28 PM
md2000 md2000 is offline
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...
However, a charge against a judge for alleged violation of an individual's civil rights is unlikely to succeed, ..., the Supreme Court has generally found judges to be immune from lawsuits, ...
Very true. As in the OP's case, a judge is simply asked to render a decision to approve or not based on their understanding of the law. Stupidity may be career-limiting but unless the decision rendered is deliberately and intentionally criminal, it is a decision made by the judge according to his understanding of law. Stupidity will we hope eventually result in removal. But for the reasons you cite, it should not threaten personal liability repercussions.

If a judge is given a warrant to sign, he should be able to sign it on the belief that a DA would not ask for criminally illegal warrant.

(Should also point out that Michael Jackson, for example, supposedly had his genitalia photographed - presumably with a warrant - during the investigation into him. I don't recall from the news if Bill Clinton also had to, but descriptions of his genitalia were part of the investigation so presumably there was cause. However, in neither case was an erection necessary for the photo op. So photography of genitalia in and of itself is not an unusual request to put before a judge in a sex crimes case.)
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