Exceptions to Absolute Judicial Immunity from Suits for Money Damages Based on Judicial Acts

From Strand v. Dawson, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 115367 (C.D. Utah Oct. 4, 2011):

Judges are shielded with absolute immunity from suits for money damages based on their judicial action. [Mireles v. Waco, 502 U.S. 9, 9-10, 112 S. Ct. 286, 116 L. Ed. 2d 9 (1991); Forrester v. White, 484 U.S. 219, 225-26, 108 S. Ct. 538, 98 L. Ed. 2d 555 (1988).] Judicial immunity also bars suits that are brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. "There are two exceptions to absolute judicial immunity: (1) when the judge's actions are taken outside his role as a judge, i.e., entirely non-judicial conduct, or (2) when the judge's actions are taken in the complete absence of jurisdiction." [*** See also Mireles, 502 U.S. at 11-13; Stein, 520 F.3d at 1195 ([A]n act taken in excess of a court's jurisdiction is not to be confused with an act taken in the complete absence of all jurisdiction.).] Strand and Allen do not argue that the judge's actions were taken outside his role as a judge. Instead, they only argue that Dawson was acting in complete absence of all jurisdiction. "[T]he necessary inquiry in determining whether a defendant judge is immune from suit is whether at the time he took the challenged action he had jurisdiction over the subject matter before him." [Stump v. Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349, 98 S. Ct. 1099, 55 L. Ed. 2d 331 (1978).] Golden Meadows v. Strand was filed in the Second District Court, a court of proper jurisdiction. The case has had many pleadings, motions, affidavits, and orders entered upon the docket beginning in August 2007 and continuing through May 19, 2011. The state court has subject matter jurisdiction in the state case as evidence[d] by the state docket sheet showing no motion contesting subject matter jurisdiction and the original Verified Complaint which states"[j]urisdiction obtains pursuant to Utah Code Ann. §78-3-4." Dawson had jurisdiction of the subject matter before him in the state court, and did not act in absence of all jurisdiction. Accordingly, he is entitled to absolute judicial immunity.

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