The Business Litigation Blog

Man Not Allowed to Sue Judge Who Had Affair with Wife During a Child Support Case

A Michigan county judge was found not to be liable before a Federal court for violating the Federal civil rights of a man who found that the judge had an affair with his wife in the midst of a child-support case.  

Reprehensible, but not an Eligible Civil Rights Violation

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals heard the case, which manages Federal appeals cases in several midwestern states, including Michigan, where the judge worked.  A three-judge panel in the Sixth Circuit of Appeals found that the behavior of the county judge overseeing the child support case was reprehensible. However, the court also found that since the actions took place while in the course of the judge’s duties, he was protected by judicial immunity.  

The father, Robert King, is barred from collecting damages, as the judge was acting within his official capacity and is therefore protected by judicial immunity. The appeals court found that the personal bias of the judge did not create a due-process violation since he was not serving in a judicial function.  

Judicial immunity does not only protect a judge from the assessment of damages, but it protects the judge from even being subjected to the suit.  There are only two exceptions.  First, a judge may be liable if the action was “nonjudicial”.  Second, a judge may be liable for actions taken completely outside his jurisdiction.  

Judge Removed from his Position on the Bench

While King has not been able to pursue a Federal civil rights claim, the state’s tenure commission has found that the judge engaged in improper behavior and made misrepresentations.  The commission found that he was not fit to sit as a judge and has been suspended.

The judge apparently had sexual relations with the wife, a witness in a child-support case, while the case involving King was on-going.  The
judge, Wayne County Circuit Judge Wade McCree, admitted to having relations with her.  He noted that he should have recused himself, but he did not.  Interestingly, he stated that despite having sex with a witness, the judge claims that his decision-making was still independent and unbiased.

The judge and the woman had an ongoing relationship, which even included sexual relations in the judge’s chambers.  The judge apparently also gave the woman about $6,000.  He knew what he was doing was wrong, as well.  In an email to the woman he was having a relationship with during a case in which she was a witness, he said that they would have to keep their relationship a secret so the judicial tenure commission in Michigan would not find out.  

The Michigan Supreme Court has suspended the judge without pay for six years with the suspension to go into effect if he is re-elected to his position by the voters of Wayne County.  

For Additional Questions About Legal Malpractice, Contact Respected Attorneys

If you have questions about legal malpractice or attorney ethics, call or email the attorneys at the Patterson Law Firm for guidance. We can
advise you on your rights and help you choose the best course of action for your case. 

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