The Horrifying Extent of Absolute Judicial Immunity

GaryTIf you have ever found yourself in court, you probably know all too well the fundamental defects in all of our court experiences – the incredible bias, incompetence, pettiness, capriciousness and intentional negligence of the judges we come before.

And the worst injustices of the system? – the lack of any effective redress when the judges go bad.

I don’t mind losing a motion, complaint or other court proceeding so much, if there is even a real objective reason for having lost, and it occurred while due process was in force.

But when I see judges ignoring their own rules, fundamental rules, and when I see them favoring one side over another, and violating existing precedent and stark evidence, in order to simply rule they way they want to, it strikes up outrage and despair as to ever having justice decided in a given court.

So, where is the accountability?

The only thing that anyone in a position of power will pay attention to is some kind of personal accountability for their actions when whomever is subject to their decisions complains about it.

The only accountability judges are subject to are mild, toothless rebukes that they receive if they are reversed on appeal.

Judicial complaint procedures are hidden from public view, reviewed by their own colleagues, and very rarely result in anything resembling sanctions.

In extremely rarer circumstances, when they are actually caught red-handed taking bribes or similar activity, they are prosecuted criminally, and you can sure that only occurs after all political solutions have been exhausted.

From within their system, they are well cushioned and insulated from any real oversight, or personal accountability.

In the real world, where most of us live in, when someone who owes you a legal duty, or has a public responsibility and mandate, and then violates that duty, they can be sued for that violation.

Not so for judges.

Judges have preemptively made up the entirely judge-created rule of Absolute Judicial Immunity. Such immunity is not even authorized by the US Constitution Article III, where the judiciary’s role and charter is created; no authority is ever cited for this absolute immunity doctrine, because Article III of the Constitution grants no such immunity to judges.

That’s right, the very community that judges the laws and rules of law, have fundamentally insulated themselves from ANY judicial oversight of ANY judicial act they may committed, or failed to commit, or anything related to judging. Merely because they can.

Simply put, no one can sue a judge for anything that judge does in a court of law.

For anything.

The old saying that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely is nowhere better illustrated than here.

And they are as purely legally immune from any ramifications of their judicial acts as were retained by coroneted Divine Right kings of the medieval ages, no matter how outrageous and obviously wrong of what they may do.

The saying ‘The King Can Do No Wrong’, is exactly what the judiciary has hammered out for itself.

Lest anyone doubt the scope and outrageous extent of judicial immunity, one only needs to look at the landmark case the U.S. Supreme Court ruled upon, STUMP v. SPARKMAN, 435 U.S. 349 (1978) .

In Stump, the Supreme Court granted immunity to the not so Honorable Judge Harold D. Stump — who violated every tenet of due process and civil rights protection, and issued an unlawful order to sterilize a 15-year-old-girl, who never appeared in court, who never had an attorney and who was lied to and told she was undergoing an appendectomy.

One, if not the, most horrible examples of what judges can do at a moment’s notice, and be totally immune from criminal or civil liability for their actions.

But the Supreme Court said that even that behavior was OK, if it was a judge who did it, and said that there should be no accountability or recompense to the violated victims.

Rogue judges are becoming the norm, not the exception they used to be.

Judges feel free to be gods of their own forums, ruling any which way they feel like, or not ruling at all if it serves their whim.

That is bad enough in a dry commercial tort, but the problem get much worse, as when the personal jurisdiction of the court over the parties gets wider and increasingly intimate into peoples’ lives in other legal actions and courts.

The situation reaches its full bloom of outrage and abuse in forums like Family Court.

The power retained by law of a Family Court judge over the people under their rule is frightening and virtually boundless.

The law grants these judges full jurisdiction over the lives, finances, property, and all personal activity of the litigants who come before them, again with no instant oversight or review.

A Family Court judge is free to control every aspect of the lives of the people pulled into that forum, and of course the litigants’ children are also at the extortionate mercy of the Family Court judge.

And that power is unchecked for all practical purposes.

Attorneys working under such judges are reluctant to pursue anything that would put them in a bad light. Such attorneys have to work under that judge every day. A judge can make an attorney’s career disappear, without even trying, since their discretion in the moment to rule one way or another in a case is arbitrary. Working lawyers know this, and simply cannot afford to even appear to antagonize or oppose such a judge.

Appeals from orders takes months to years, during which time the damage done becomes permanent.

Judicial complaint procedures are undertaken with a skeptical view and comradely sentiment, by other judges who have incentive to not find against the complained about judge.

Mandamus actions are similarly rendered ineffectual by the same dynamic.

Even if and when some kind of oversight is obtained, again, the damage has been done, and cannot be undone, and the supposed relief becomes nominal and academic.

And of course the only other independent legal teeth that an aggrieved party usually has when their rights have been violated, is completely cut off when it comes to judges. You simply cannot sue them.

The only thing left for such an injured party is to try to publicize the abuse, and hope the media and public at large throws its attention in that direction.

That is a weak, and pyrrhic victory at best. The victim must cast themselves in a woe-is-me, please-pity-me role, and hope for some kind of inquest or legislative change.

The public has grown up much as to public policy and legal involvement in the last 25 years.

As our country becomes more socialist and statist, more and more people are being forcibly sucked into in our legal system, and thrust into the courts,whether they want to or not.

With more people finding themselves there, more also find they cannot afford attorneys and choose to go pro se (self-represented) in those actions. The direct interactions between the public and judges is becoming more and more common, and without the assuaging, unctuous and formalized buffer that retained attorneys usually have played in the past.

The direct friction between raw un-lawyered litigants and judges is coming to a head.

Whereas professional lawyers could afford to, and had to have the acquired calloused mindset to withstand and tolerate hideous and unconscionable abuses by sitting judges, the less guilded pro se litigants cannot and will not afford to do so.

It is time to empower the people to be able to stand up to judicial abuses directly, to hold judges civilly liable as any other person would be when they break the law. The unreviewable absolute tyranny of this branch of government should not be allowed to continue.

Judges break the law all the time. In fact they are probably the most frequent law breakers of all citizens. It is just that when they do it, they do it in front of everyone, preemptively call it their right to do so, and cloak themselves in immunity and non-existent oversight.

If judges cannot police themselves in any effective manner, as apparently they can’t, the citizenry must retain the right to do it themselves.

Legislation must be enacted to enable direct, personal and swift action, subject to the same due process requirements, against rogue judges who break the law, and cause unjust injury to people under their jurisdiction.

It is the least that our government owes us, accountability.


The Doctrine of Judicial Immunity, by Gary Zerman

An Attempt to remove Absolute Judicial Immunity in South Dakota

Description of Judicial Immunity from Wikipedia

Judicial Immunity vs Due Process: When Should a Judge be Subject to Suit?

The views expressed in this article belong to the author/contributor and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Nolan Chart or its ownership


  1. says

    I am in total and complete agreement with this article…when time permits, take a look at this CNN IReport……it may provide a starting point for us to commence our efforts to reverse this atrocious trend

  2. Mark Cimini says

    Read the case Phelps v. Sill 1 Day 315, Conn June 1804

    Under English rule the orphan could have appealed to the King for relief. The King could provided remedy and punished his judge. Instead the orphan was the only one punished in one of the earliest cases of judicial immunity. The court should have provided for a method of remedy. That is what is missing from all these judicial immunity cases.

  3. jbn says

    I think it is time to make judges answer to the people as we have to answer for our crimes
    please support this petition.

  4. says

    Although years have passed sine you have offered this thread, the concept
    of overturning Judicial Immunity is far from finished. A congressional
    Candidate in Pennsylvania is basing his campaign upon the idea. I am
    part of the effort and I would like to know if you have saved a copy of
    the cnn report report. Andy Ostrowski for United States Congress 11th District Pa.

    • Gary Trieste says

      Hello David Smith:

      Which CNN report? I usually have everything I have used in an article.

      fyi, another pair of articles on the courts, this time Family Courts, have been published, I think you will enjoy them, they are more comprehensive than this article:

  5. Charles says

    Excellent article about a horrendous fact of life. Power truely does corrupt, especially in the case of theconduct of Judges. I live in Memphis, TN, where we have one of the largest Criminal Justice Industries in America. Our only hope would be if the DOJ would come here and dismantle the whole system. Then we might be able to construct something that would resemble a Justice System.

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