Judges Could Face Greater Scrutiny for Off-Bench Behavior
"Judge Caputo's decision in [the] Ciavarella [case]essentially says that sometimes what a judge does is so beyond the pale that the judge is not acting judicially at that moment," Robert L. Byer, head of the appellate practice at Duane Morris in Pittsburgh, said.
Byer questioned whether it made sense to hold a judge criminally liable for his or her activities, but then not allow victims access to civil redress. However, judicial immunity, Byer said, is a necessary element to a functioning judiciary.
"The last thing we want to do is to make judges fearful of collateral consequences for unpopular decisions or for what might be an honest mistake of judgment or an honest disagreement of facts," Byer said.