“Although it has practical and historical roots in the English common law, the doctrine of absolute judicial immunity was officially ushered into the American legal system in the case of Randall v. Brigham. In Randall, an attorney was accused of obtaining an agreement from a client that was ‘unconscionable and extortionate.’ The trial court, finding the actions of Randall to be ‘grossly unprofessional,’ ordered that he be removed from his position as an attorney. In response, Randall sued the judge, Brigham, for unlawful removal. Justice Field, writing for the Supreme Court, held that ‘[judges] are not liable to civil actions for their judicial acts, even when such acts are in excess of their jurisdiction, unless perhaps where the acts…are done maliciously or corruptly.’ Even if the act in question was done corruptly, the Court allowed that impeachment and removal from office may be better alternatives than civil liability. The Court explained that the doctrine of judicial immunity is necessary to preserve the impartiality of the judicial system. Without immunity, judges could be influenced by personal considerations of future litigation against them from any party that could potentially perceive herself as aggrieved. According to the Court, judicial immunity ‘is for the sake of the public, and not merely for the protection of the judge.’ It is worth noting that the language the Court used left room for an exception to judicial immunity; that is, a judge might not enjoy judicial immunity for acts done in excess of jurisdiction if those acts were malicious or corrupt.”

Source: Timothy M. Stengel. “Absolute Judicial Immunity Makes Absolutely No Sense. An Argument For An Exception To Judicial Immunity.” 84 Temple Law Review 1071, 1076-1077. 2012


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