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Critiques of the Judiciary
“Immunity from the law leads to
impunity to the law.”

-- John E. Wolfgram
Challenging One's Fellow Judges

As conflicts over courthouse impropriety evolved into a hostile work place, Judge Sharon Marchman of Louisiana's 4th Judicial District for Ouachita Parish decided it was time to confront her colleagues in Federal Court.

Part B - The Immunity Defense

Judges have conferred upon themselves a status that renders them immune from any wrongdoing while sitting on the bench.  Thus, A judge will not be deprived of immunity because the action he took was in error, was done maliciously, or was in excess of his authority. This remarkable statement by the U.S. Supreme Court in Stump v. Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349 (1978) is the basis of the judicial shield that judges can invoke when confronted by a plaintiff's evidence of misconduct, judicial error or other inappropiate behavior.

Judges have gone beyond this self-protection, and frequently confer similar status on other agencies of government, as experienced by this author in his lawsuit against negligent state actors responsible for implementing Louisiana's Road Home Program in the aftermath of the 2005 Hurricane Katrina.  Immunity granted to governmental agencies shields them from being accountable to plaintiffs who have been injured through the negligence, malice, or ineptitude of its agents, and is an example of the tyranny that lends itself to public outrage.

“Finally, if this Court would somehow ... find some viable constitutional claim, then the Defendant Judges are still entitled to a dismissal due to judicial immunity, as each action complained of by Plaintiff Judge Marchman against her colleagues arose from their excerise of a judicial function acting within their jurisdictional authority.”

Motion to Dismiss 

Marchman v. Crawford, et al.
Doc. 47, June 22, 2016 

Judges claim immunity to lawsuits for acts of corruption
June 22, 2016

Some Fourth Judicial District Court judges who face claims for damages in a lawsuit filed in federal court by their peer, Judge Sharon Marchman, filed pleadings Monday arguing they cannot be sued for acts of corruption or malice.

The four defendant judges making that argument are judges Fred Amman, Wilson Rambo and Carl Sharp as well as retired Judge Ben Jones, who now serves as court administrator at Fourth Judicial District Court for Ouachita and Morehouse parishes. They are represented by special assistant attorney general Brian D. Landry, of Shreveport.

Those four judges are just a few of a handful of defendants who Marchman claimed violated her constitutional rights when she tried to expose the defendants' concerted efforts to cover up law clerk Allyson Campbell's alleged payroll fraud and document destruction.

In her lawsuit filed April 19 in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana, Marchman is seeking damages from the judges, Campbell, their attorneys as well as from former Attorney General Buddy Caldwell.

Many of the same defendants also were sued by Monroe businessman Stanley Palowsky III in Fourth Judicial District Court. Palowsky's July 2015 lawsuit against Campbell and the judges detailed many of the same allegations that appeared in Marchman's lawsuit. Marchman is represented in her federal lawsuit by attorneys Sedric Banks of Monroe and Joe Ward of Covington, who also represent Palowsky in his district court litigation.

"It is from this diseased root system of a state court action that Plaintiff Judge Marchman's civil rights' lawsuit arises, with even the same gardeners, in the form of Mr. Palowsky's own attorneys seeking to tend the same noxious vines in this federal action," stated a proposed memorandum filed Monday by the four defendant judges in U.S. District Court.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the four defendant judges were awaiting approval of their proposed memorandum since it exceeded the page count requirements under federal court guidelines.

In their proposed memorandum, the four defendant judges urged U.S. District Court Judge Maurice Hicks Jr. to follow the example of ad hoc Judge Jerry Barbera, of Thibodeaux, who dismissed Palowsky's lawsuit against Campbell and the judges in November 2015 on the grounds of judicial immunity. At that time, Barbera ruled that judges and law clerks were shielded from lawsuits — even if they committed criminal acts — because they performed a necessary judicial function.

"The alleged cover-up allegations are the most egregious, as Plaintiff Judge Marchman is accusing the Defendant Judges of what constitutes essentially corruption," stated the judges' memorandum. "Although not specifically pled, there is also an undercurrent of implied malice, when Plaintiff Judge Marchman asserts her retaliation charge."

"However, acts of corruption or malice, even if true, do not affect absolute judicial immunity," the judges added.

The defendant judges argued further that a U.S. District Court judge must set "all its experience and common sense aside (to) find some viable constitutional claim" in Marchman's lawsuit. If that happened, the judges were still protected under judicial immunity, they argued.

The defendant judges claim Marchman, like other judges of the court, did not believe any crime had been committed when allegations first surfaced that Campbell had committed payroll fraud. That matter was discussed during a personnel committee meeting among Fourth Judicial District Court judges, but Marchman didn't ask an outside authority to investigate, the judges said. "... (Marchman) did not recommend referral of the payroll issue to any law enforcement or prosecuting authority for investigation or prosecution," the judges' memorandum stated.

The defendant judges argued Marchman's claims that her constitutional rights were violated can be boiled down to frustration with other judges who did not agree with her administrative recommendations concerning Campbell.

"Plaintiff Judge Marchman may truly be a pariah, or an outcast among her peers, but that status appears to be of her own making, and not the actions of the Defendant Judges," the judges' memorandum stated.

Marchman's claim that her free speech rights as a private citizen were violated rings false, the judges argued, especially since private citizens do not generally enjoy the right to participate in the judges' personnel committee meetings.

"For whatever reason, Mr. Palowsky, Plaintiff Judge Marchman, and their attorneys do not like this law clerk," stated the judges' memorandum. "Further, Plaintiff Judge Marchman is unhappy with her judicial colleagues' decisions concerning the law clerk, even to the point where Plaintiff Judge Marchman moved for discharge of employment, and none of the other 10 members of the bench would allegedly second her motion."

Copyright 2016, Hanna Newspapers

From: Zach Parker, "Judges claim immunity to lawsuits for acts of corruption,"The Ouachita Citizen, June 22, 2016, http://www.hannapub.com/ouachitacitizen/news/local_state_headlines/judges-claim-immunity-to-lawsuits-for-acts-of-corruption/article_4de47d9a-389f-11e6-bff3-c78a264b282a.html, accessed 06/24/2016.  Reprinted in accordance with the "fair use" provision of Title 17 U.S.C. § 107 for a non-profit educational purpose.  Zach Parker can be contacted at: zach@ouachitacitizen.com.  Additional coverage by The Ouachita Citizen is available at: http://www.hannapub.com/ouachitachitzen/read-more-ouachita-citizen-s-past-articles-on-court-controversy/article_7cdc2f54-55e0-11e6-8a4b-e7acab7e3e82.html, accessed 09/04/2016.

4 judges file motion to dismiss in Marchman suit
June 22, 2016

Four 4th Judicial District Court judges have filed a motion to dismiss in a federal suit brought against them and five other defendants by Judge Sharon Marchman. With this motion, all nine defendants have filed motions to dismiss.

Judges Carl V. Sharp, Frederic C. Amman, J. Wilson Rambo and Benjamin Jones asked Monday for permission to file more pages than typically allowed by the court on Monday, a request that U.S. District Judge S. Maurice Hicks Jr. granted on Wednesday.

Also included in the suit are: law clerk Allyson Campbell and attorneys Brian E. Crawford, Jon K. Guice, Lawrence Pettiette Jr. and former Louisiana Attorney General James D. "Buddy" Caldwell.

In the suit, Marchman's attorneys allege that the defendants conspired to hide illegal behavior on the part of a law clerk and subsequently punished Marchman for speaking out about those acts and the subsequent cover up. They argue that Marchman's Constitutional rights to free speech and equal protection have been violated by those actions. She seeks monetary damages, injunctive relief and declaratory judgment. She also requests a trial by jury.

Brian D. Landry, who is representing the defendant judges, asks the court to dismiss Marchman's claims with prejudice and at her cost. He argues that whether Marchman's attorneys have made a plausible claim that her rights have been violated and whether the accused judges' actions warrant judicial immunity are the questions before the court.

Landry argues that a facially plausible claim for a constitutional violation is nowhere in either the original or amended complaints filed on Marchman's behalf. He argues that Marchman's speech is not covered by the First Amendment because it was being made as a public official, and she also lacks 14th Amendment protection as a public employee. Further, he said common sense is lacking from Marchman's pleadings.

The defendant judges' attorney questioned why, if Marchman thought illegal acts had been committed, she did not ask law enforcement or a prosecuting authority to conduct an investigation or to prosecute.

Landry delineates the specific claims made against the defendant judges, per Marchman's complaint. He argues claims that his clients "are interfering with her ability to discharge her duties as a judge, undermining her authority in the eyes of the public, turned her into a virtual pariah, ignored her and made her feel uncomfortable" are vague and nebulous assertions.

Landry argues that Marchman and her attorneys dislike Campbell, and Marchman is unhappy that none of the other 10 judges in the district would second her move to fire Campbell, a circumstance noted in her original complaint. If Marchman is a pariah, he argues, "that status appears to be of her own making."

A memorandum from Crawford, Landry states, shows a history of four lawsuits focused on Campbell, including Palowsky v. Cork and Palowsky v. Campbell. He argues that the "more than curious observation" is that both Marchman and Stanley R. Palowsky III are represented by the same counsel, Joe Ward and Sedric Banks.

Landry states: "The defendant judges ... would simply observe that there appears to be a long history of plaintiff Judge Marchman's counsel making broad and unsubstantiated claims not only against this law clerk, but later the defendant judges and other judges not named in this current lawsuit, like Chief Judge Winters for example, as well as attorneys representing opposing parties, for what appears to be disagreeing with them or their clients."

Marchman was to be a witness in Palowsky v. Campbell, a suit filed July 22 and dismissed with prejudice Nov. 5. The suit is in the appeals process. For that case, Palowsky requested that all 11 4th Judicial Court judges recuse themselves. It was ruled on by ad hoc Judge Jerome J. Barbera III.

"It is from this diseased root system of a state court action (Palowsky v. Campbell) that plaintiff Judge Marchman's civil rights' lawsuit arises, with even the same gardeners, in the form of Mr. Palowsky's own attorneys seeking to tend the same noxious vines in this federal action," Landry argues.

Copyright 2016, www.thenewsstar.com

From: Bonnie Bolden, "4 judges file motion to dismiss in Marchman suit," The News-Star, Monroe, La., June 22, 2016, http://www.thenewsstar.com/story/news/local/2016/06/22/4-judges-file-motion-dismiss-marchman-suit/86255028/, accessed 06/27/2016.  Reprinted in accordance with the "fair use" provision of Title 17 U.S.C. § 107 for a non-profit educational purpose.  Bonnie Bolden can be contacted at: bbolden@thenewsstar.com.









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