Judges can sometimes be unpopular people. Such is the nature of their job. For every judicial decision that they render, one side wins and one side loses. Even when those decisions are firmly grounded in the law, the losing party can be upset. While the proper method of disputing those rulings is the appeal process, sometimes litigants bring suit against the judges instead.
Obviously, if judges could be sued for every decision they make, they would not be able to make decisions without fear of the losing party would sue. However, Judges must “deal fearlessly and impartially with the public at large” as was quoted by the U.S. Supreme Court in Ferri v. Ackerman, 444 U.S. 193, 203 (1979). As a result, the law has long recognized principles of judicial immunity to ensure that our judicial system remains fair. Under the doctrine of judicial immunity, judges are shielded from liability for their judicial actions.
Over the years, Thomas Law Offices has been privileged to represent Kentucky state judges when they have been sued by disgruntled litigants. Recently, Thomas Law Offices obtained a favorable ruling in the Western District of Kentucky for Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge. In Flint v. Burkman, Civil Action No. 3:15-CV-439-JHM, Judge Burkman was sued by a party who was unhappy with her rulings in his Jefferson County Circuit Court case. Her rulings were very well based in the law, but Flint refused to accept her rulings.
The Court upheld Judge Burkman’s right to immunity from suit and dismissed the Plaintiff’s complaint. The Court recognized that judicial immunity can only be overcome in two circumstances: (1) for nonjudicial actions and (2) for action taken in the complete absence of all jurisdiction. In this particular case, the Plaintiff’s allegations involved only rulings and decisions made by Judge Burkman while presiding over Plaintiff’s case.
Interestingly, the Court also sanctioned the Plaintiff for repeatedly bringing suit against the state and federal judiciary despite the fact that he had been repeatedly told that judges are entitled to immunity for their judicial decisions. Recognizing the Plaintiff’s pattern of “abusive and vexatious lawsuits” filed in the Western District of Kentucky, the Court sanctioned him in the amount of $800. The Court further ordered that the Plaintiff is prohibited from filing any lawsuits until those sanctions, plus $1500 in previous sanctions are paid. Finally, the Court ordered that even after all sanctions are paid, the Plaintiff must file a motion seeking permission from the Court before he can file a new lawsuit.
The full text of the opinion can be found here: http://www.leagle.com/decision/In%20FDCO%2020151112G89/Flint%20v.%20Burkman?utm_source=attorney_email&utm_medium=email&utm_term=mk7N6nnfihLr2lx3&utm_content=attid%3DPwoDUv42yHEAaBvQ&utm_campaign=attorney_email_M20151113&attn=Lindsy%20J.%20Lopez.