Justice Potter Stewart, above, tells judges: “You can’t do that!”
Is everything a judge “does” protected by immunity? If a judge crashes into your car on the way to work, is he or she immune? What if she orders the Deputy to steal your wallet in court? Orders you to “fall down and worship a golden image”?
What can a judge do legally, and what can’t they do—and how does that apply to family court? Does a judge have the power to take your money from your wallet in court? Take your children without having committed a crime? Order you to leave your home? Avoid your local grocery store or mall? The answers aren’t as clear as most judges would have you believe.
Beginning with this article we’ll be posting some pieces of history that some judges seem to have forgotten: that their power–and immunity–is limited to that which we give them in constitutions, charters, and articles of incorporation. Wander off the “reservation” and you’re on you own. Do it under color of state law, and you’re strictly liable as a trespasser. Words of caution and wisdom from the Supreme Court itself, to lawyers, clients, families, and even judges themselves. No small questions either—get this wrong and you’re liable for criminal and civil rights violations. And as you probably already know by now, people pay attention. Here we share Stump v. Sparkman and Wade v. Bethesda, including the very instructive oral arguments in Stump. Thanks to a curmudgeonly Justice Marshall and relentless Justice Stewart (the “Unknown Speaker” in the transcript) they’re as entertaining as they are informative. Enjoy.