I was the defendant in an unlawful detainer case and the judge sided with the plaintiff all along, I had requested a jury trial and the judge granted plaintiff's motion in limine so I could not introduce my key evidence, granted plaintiff's motion to redirect, dismissed the jury and rule on plaintiff's favor. I was treated with disrespect by all involved. I'd like to sue the court for damages and possible discrimination. Is that possible? I'd also like to find an attorney as soon as possible to help me to file a stay of execution of judgement temporarily and to appeal the judgment.
I'm sorry to hear you had a bad experience in court. Unfortunately, however, you cannot sue the superior court or the judge. In California, the doctrine of judicial immunity prevents one from suing the court or any judge.
Judicial immunity is a common law doctrine recognized in California from the very beginning of its legal system, and is founded on "a general principle of the highest importance to the proper administration of justice that a judicial officer, in exercising the authority vested in him, shall be free to act upon his own convictions, without apprehension of personal consequence to himself." (Tagliavia v. County of Los Angeles (1980) 112 Cal.App.3d 759, 762, quoting from Bradley v. Fisher (1871) 80 U.S. (13 Wall.) 335, 347.)
For the same reason, the court (such as the Superior of California for the County of Los Angeles) cannot be sued.
See City of Santa Clara v. County of Santa Clara (1969) 1 Cal.App.3d 493, 498: "It is a long-established rule that a judge is not to be held answerable in damages for acts performed in his judicial capacity....Since no liability can attach to the judge the state also is not liable. (Gov. Code, section 815.2, subd. (b).)"
You might have grounds for an appeal, but suing the court is not one of your options.
Frank W. Chen has been licensed to practice law in California since 1988. The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice for a particular case. This Avvo.com posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, please consult with your own attorney.
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I concur with Mr. Chen - you cannot sue the superior court. For what it is worth, although the experience that you describe is terrible, it is very, very common.
You do, however, have the right to an appeal. Whether you case presents the kind of issues that will result in a reversal by the appellate court is a different matter.
I am a certified appellate law specialist with ove 25 years of civil appellate experience. Please see my website at www.LosAngelesAppeals.com. If you would like a consultation, please call my office. We can discuss your case and the cost of seeking a stay of execution and an appeal.
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