The most important figure in a Texas courtroom is the judge.

No doubt about it, the moment you step into a courtroom, you're on their territory. It doesn't matter if you're a defendant, petitioner, guardian ad litiam, attorney, bailiff or grandmother to 53 whippersnappers--the judge has the final say.

But all too often, judges make decisions that are not received well. How often have you heard someone insist "the judge was out to get me!" or "the judge has to be sleeping with my wife!" after a bad day in court?

Now, our culture here in America is rich in certain traditions, like suing people. So, it's inevitable that the question is asked: Can I sue a judge?

Well....Can You Sue a Judge in Texas?

Yes and no. See, there's a lot nuance to this answer. So let's tackle the 'No' part first.

It is close to impossible to sue a judge for any judicial decisions he or she makes. This is due to something called judicial immunity.

"Judges enjoy absolute judicial immunity from liability for judicial acts, no matter how erroneous the act or how evil the motive, unless the act is performed in the clear absence of all jurisdiction." Alpert v. Gerstner, 232 S.W.3d 117, 127 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 2006, pet. denied)

The argument is that the public is best served when a judge has total discretion to make rulings and fulfil the responsibilities of their role without any fear of being sued for it.

This means that even if the judge really is out to get you or is actually sleeping with your wife, they can't be sued for how they ruled on a case--as long as they acted within their jurisdiction.


So, When Can You Sue A Judge?

If you notice how I've placed emphasis on the word 'jurisdiction', then that should give you a clue. They enjoy judicial immunity only when they are acting as a judge and doing judge-y things.

Let's say you're at the courthouse and have just seen a judge and you're walking out when you bump into a different judge who doesn't like you. If they demand you hand over your court file and order you to pay a $5,000 fine on the spot--they are out of their jurisdiction and have no immunity.

You Can Also Sue a Judge When This Happens

Let's say you get rear ended by an intoxicated driver who you later find out is a judge in your city. Nothing is stopping you from suing them for the accident because they were not acting as a judge at the time of the crash. They were simply someone who made the unfortunate decision to get behind the wheel while drunk.

Can't sue, but you're still steaming mad about that darn judge? Try your luck filing a complaint with the State Commission of Judicial Conduct.

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