July 28, 2014

WHY ABSOLUTE JUDICIAL IMMUNITY SHOULD BE ABOLISHED: 6th Circuit Court: Ex-Judge Wade McCree’s conduct ‘reprehensible’ but immune from lawsuit.

Disgraced former Wayne County Circuit Judge Wade McCree, who had an affair with a woman while presiding over her child custody case, got some good news from a federal appeals court this week: He can’t be sued by the child’s father.

That’s what the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals concluded in a 24-page decision Monday, stating that while McCree’s actions were “often reprehensible,” he is immune from lawsuits under the long-held doctrine of judicial immunity.

The ruling rubbed one attorney the wrong way: Joel Sklar, who is appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court for help in loosening up the doctrine that says judges can’t be sued for decisions they make on the bench.

“There should be no immunity for what happened here,” said Sklar, who said he believes McCree improperly used the judicial immunity doctrine “as a shield for self interest” so that he could have a sexual relationship with a woman who appeared before him in a child custody case.

Sklar represents the child’s father, Robert King, who is fighting for the right to sue McCree, alleging he denied him access to a fair and impartial judge: McCree was having an affair with his child’s mother, sexted her from the bench and gave her thousands of dollars.

At the very least, if judges are to enjoy absolute immunity from lawsuits over misconduct, that immunity should come from the legislature. Right now, it’s a judicially-created doctrine, which is self-serving in the extreme.

This case isn’t the worst misconduct shielded by judicial immunity, but it’s pretty bad.

And speaking of self-dealing, this doesn’t look good: “McCree is the son of the late Wade Hampton McCree Jr., who was the first black person appointed to the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals and the second black solicitor general in U.S. history.” Though the doctrine is so absolute that it doesn’t really matter. And did I mention that this rule of absolute immunity for judges, no matter how serious their misconduct, was created by . . . judges?

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