This story was originally published by the WND News Center.
A now-"retired" judge in West Virginia is being accused of violating the First, Fourth, and 14th Amendments all at once when she personally traveled to the home of a man involved in a divorce dispute and then supervised the confiscation of various items from his home.
And the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said since her actions did not fall within any definition of judicial proceedings, she is liable for damages.
The Institute for Justice explains a case by Matthew Gibson now will proceed against former judge Louise Goldston.
She already has been censured, fined, and roundly condemned by the West Virginia High Court for violating the state’s code of judicial conduct. She was being impeached when she took retirement.
The IJ reported, "She ended up retiring from her position amid a legislative push to impeach her for violating the rights of West Virginians. The resolution to impeach Goldston specifically mentioned the judge leading a warrantless search of Matthew’s home. Despite her retirement, Matthew and IJ continued moving forward with their lawsuit against Goldston wanting to ensure that this egregious violation wouldn’t happen again and that the doctrine of judicial immunity would not expand. "
The 4th Circuit said Goldston's actions were not protected by judicial immunity, as she had demanded.
"Goldston stepped outside of her judicial role when she personally participated in the search of Gibson's home. The search of someone's home and the seizure of its contents are executive acts, not judicial ones. We thus hold that her activities are not eligible for the protections of judicial immunity."
"Today is a victory not just for Matthew but for everyone who stands before a judge in a court of law and expects a fair hearing," Institute for Justice lawyer Patrick Jaicomo said of the unanimous ruling.
"The separation of powers exists for a reason so that no one person can be judge, jury, and executioner. Checks and balances must be maintained to ensure a fair and free society, and judges who act beyond their constitutional mandate should not expect the protection of immunity."
Gibson said, in a statement released by his lawyers, "This has been a hard-fought battle, and I’m relieved to have the court agree these violations of my rights cannot stand. But I’m particularly pleased to know that the court’s ruling will not only safeguard my rights but the rights of countless others who might otherwise suffer abuse at the hands of overstepping judges who think their robes hide them from the Constitution they are sworn to uphold."
The IJ reported, "Judges are not entitled to do whatever they want, and then demand special treatment just because they happen to wear a robe at work. They cannot, for instance, act like police and search homes; if they do, they can’t claim judicial immunity."
It was during a divorce hearing in Raleigh County, West Virginia, and Goldston, hearing complaints from Matthew's former wife that he hadn't delivered some items she wanted, simply ordered those in the court to go with her to Gibson's home.
There, she instructed the former wife to take what she wanted.
She even threatened Gibson with arrest for objecting to her police actions.
WND previously reported on the case that IJ lawyer Tori Clark said, "Judicial immunity should only apply when judges are actually acting as judges. Leading a search party is not acting like a judge."
It was reported when the case developed that some of the items confiscated by the judge actually belonged to Gibson and his children.