August 22, 2016 Articles

Young Lawyers: Don't Sue the Arbitrators!

By Sheila J. Carpenter

Judges enjoy absolute immunity, even if their conduct is malicious or dishonest. See Bradley v. Fisher, 80 U.S. 335, 13 Wall. 335 (1872), and cases cited therein. The Supreme Court, following centuries of English precedent, held that judges have absolute immunity from suit as a result of their judicial acts, no matter how malicious, reasoning that judicial independence must be preserved at all costs: 

For it is a general principle of the highest importance to the proper administration of justice that a judicial officer, in exercising the authority vested in him, shall be free to act upon his own convictions, without apprehension of personal consequences to himself. Liability to answer to every one who might feel himself aggrieved by the action of the judge, would be inconsistent with the possession of this freedom, and would destroy that independence without which no judiciary can be either respectable or useful.

Id. at 347. 

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