Although judges are sometimes attacked in public comments outside the courtroom, including notably by our own President, those of us who practice regularly before the courts operate on the assumption that judges are broadly immune from attack within the legal system, i.e., they enjoy complete immunity from suit. In a recent decision in Zappin v. Cooper, 2018 WL 708369 (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 2, 2018), Southern District Judge Katherine Polk Failla discusses a surprising gap in judicial immunity accorded to New York state judges in particular, ultimately dismissing the claims against a judge on alternative grounds.
‘Zappin v. Cooper’
The defendant in Zappin v. Cooper, New York State Supreme Court Justice Matthew F. Cooper, presided over much of plaintiff’s contentious divorce proceedings. Justice Cooper issued a decision in September 2015 which, among other things, imposed sanctions on the plaintiff at the request of the court appointed attorney for plaintiff’s child (the AFC). The trigger for the sanctions application was a complaint that plaintiff had filed with the Office of Professional Medical Conduct (OPMC) against the AFC’s retained medical expert, but the AFC also referenced plaintiff’s “overall misconduct” during the divorce proceedings. In granting sanctions, the court made a series of factual findings concerning plaintiff’s conduct toward Justice Cooper himself, the prior judge assigned to the case, opposing counsel, the AFC, and the AFC’s medical expert.
This content has been archived. It is available through our partners, LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law.
To view this content, please continue to their sites.
LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law are third party online distributors of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law customers are able to access and use ALM's content, including content from the National Law Journal, The American Lawyer, Legaltech News, The New York Law Journal, and Corporate Counsel, as well as other sources of legal information.
For questions call 1-877-256-2472 or contact us at [email protected]