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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. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  2. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

  3. Here's an idea...how about we MORE heavily regulate the law schools to reduce the surplus of graduates, driving starting salaries up for those new grads, so that we can all pay our insane amount of student loans off in a reasonable amount of time and then be able to afford to do pro bono & low-fee work? I've got friends in other industries, radiology for example, and their schools accept a very limited number of students so there will never be a glut of new grads and everyone's pay stays high. For example, my radiologist friend's school accepted just six new students per year.

  4. I totally agree with John Smith.

  5. An idea that would harm the public good which is protected by licensing. Might as well abolish doctor and health care professions licensing too. Ridiculous. Unrealistic. Would open the floodgates of mischief and abuse. Even veteranarians are licensed. How has deregulation served the public good in banking, for example? Enough ideology already!

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