ILNews

Federal court dismisses suit against judge

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

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.

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Indiana State Bar Association

Indianapolis Bar Association

Evansville Bar Association

Allen County Bar Association

Indiana Lawyer on Facebook

facebook
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  2. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  3. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  4. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

  5. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

ADVERTISEMENT