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Federal court dismisses suit against judge

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A federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit against an Allen Circuit judge because the judge was entitled to judicial immunity in a suit filed by a pro se plaintiff disgruntled about a small claims ruling. 

U.S District Judge Rudy Lozano in the Northern District of Indiana dismissed with prejudice Tim S. Stefanski's suit against Allen Circuit Judge Thomas J. Felts Tuesday. Stefanski claimed the judge denied his right to a jury trial, right to legal counsel, and that his wages are being garnished in violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practice Act.

Judge Felts, entered a judgment against Stefanski and initiated garnishment proceedings to satisfy the judgment from the Small Claims Division of the Allen Superior Court.

Stefanski claimed in Tim S. Stefanski v. Martha M. McDermott and Thomas J. Felts, No. 1:08-cv-00123, because of the collections practices, he was unable to pay his rent and was evicted. He sought monetary and punitive damages against the judge.

Judge Felts is immune from liability in this case because the alleged illegal acts claimed by Stefanski were actions taken within his judicial discretion, wrote Judge Lozano. On this reason alone, the claims against Judge Felts can be dismissed. But the claims are also barred by the 11th Amendment because the judge was being sued in his official capacity and under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine that states lower federal courts generally don't have the power to exercise appellate review over state court decisions.

Stefanski had also filed a similar suit against Allen Superior Magistrate Judge Brian Cook after the magistrate judge entered judgment against Stefanski and initiated garnishment proceedings against him. That suit was also dismissed because the magistrate judge was entitled to absolute judicial immunity.

Judge Lozano noted that claims against Martha McDermott remain pending.

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  1. I will be filing a lawsuit in Tippecanoe County for so many violations in a case we became involved in, including failure to contact through mail, Violation of 4th Amendment rights, Violation of Civil Rights, and so on. Even the Indiana Ombudsmen Bureau found violations and I have now received the report and they are demanding further training in Tippecanoe County. I am going to make sure they follow through!!!

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  3. I thought the purpose of the criminal justice center was to consolidate all the criminal services and get them out of downtown to clean up the place. Why in the HELL are the civil courts moving? What a burden to all the downtown law firms. Now we all get to work downtown, but then have to get in a car and COMMUTE to court? Who approved this idiocy?

  4. I drive through the neighborhood whenever I go to the City-County Building or the Federal Courthouse. The surrounding streets are all two way with only two lanes of traffic, and traffic is very slow during rush hour. I hope that enough money has been allocated to allow for improvement of the surrounding streets.

  5. I have had an ongoing custody case for 6 yrs. I should have been the sole legal custodial parent but was a victim of a vindictive ex and the system biasedly supported him. He is an alcoholic and doesn't even have a license for two yrs now after his 2nd DUI. Fast frwd 6 yrs later my kids are suffering poor nutritional health, psychological issues, failing in school, have NO MD and the GAL could care less, DCS doesn't care. The child isn't getting his ADHD med he needs and will not succeed in life living this way. NO one will HELP our family.I tried for over 6 yrs. The judge called me an idiot for not knowing how to enter evidence and the last hearing was 8 mths ago. That in itself is unjust! The kids want to be with their Mother! They are being alienated from her and fed lies by their Father! I was hit in a car accident 3 yrs ago and am declared handicapped myself. Poor poor way to treat the indigent in Indiana!

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