Jennifer J. Myrick, Plaintiff-Appellant,
Richard G. Greenwood, et al., Defendants-Appellees.
Submitted April 13, 2017 [*]
from the United States District Court for the Eastern
District of Wisconsin. No. 16-C-460 - William C. Griesbach,
WOOD, Chief Judge, and POSNER and Easterbrook, Circuit
Dismayed that her former husband has been awarded custody of
their son, Jennifer Myrick brought this suit seeking damages
from the six state judges and court commissioners who
presided over parts of the lengthy divorce and child-custody
proceedings. She maintains that, by ruling against her, the
judges manifested bias in favor of her former husband,
violating her right to due process of law in that and other
ways, and overlooked misconduct by her former husband, her
son's guardians ad litem, and her own attorney. She did
not ask the federal court in this suit under 42 U.S.C.
§1983 to change the award of custody but did request
district court summarily dismissed the suit because judges
are absolutely immune from awards of damages for acts taken
in a judicial capacity, whether or not the judges erred in
conducting the litigation. See, e.g., Mireles v.
Waco, 502 U.S. 9 (1991); Stump v. Sparkman, 435
U.S. 349 (1978).
brief does not try to explain why the defendants are not
entitled to immunity. It does not contend that the defendants
acted other than in a judicial capacity. It is instead a
compendium of reasons Myrick believes that the state judges
should have ruled in her favor. Myrick contends that the
judges acted in bad faith, but "judicial immunity is not
overcome by allegations of bad faith or malice".
Mireles, 502 U.S. at 11. The Supreme Court of
Wisconsin, not the federal judiciary, is responsible for
dealing with claims that state judges erred. The judgment of
the district court therefore is
POSNER, Circuit Judge, concurring.
the panel opinion without reservations, but wish to note some
wrinkles in the case that merit the attention of our staff
attorneys; of our judges when they review orders, disposing
of appeals, drafted by staff attorneys; of the district
judges; and of litigants and their lawyers, when the
litigants have lawyers.
noted in the panel opinion, the plaintiff filed this suit in
federal district court in Wisconsin against six Wisconsin
circuit court judges and family court commissioners, and the
opinion rightly notes that the defendants are immune from
liability for rulings made in the course of their judicial
duties, as all the rulings that the plaintiff challenges
were. But it is worth noting that the
"commissioner" defendants, though not called
judges, are judicial officers and therefore really do partake
of the same immunity as the state circuit court judges. See
Milwaukee County Courts, Family Division, "What is the
Family Court Commissioner's Office?, "
milwaukee.gov/Courts/Family.htm (visited May 5,
2017); Brunson v. Murray, 843 F.3d 698 (7th Cir.
wrinkle concerns a footnote that often appears in our orders
and opinions deciding appeals when we have not heard oral
argument: "We have agreed to decide this case without
oral argument because the briefs and record adequately
present the facts and legal arguments, and oral argument
would not significantly aid the court." This language is
derived from Rule 34(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Appellate
Procedure, which states: "Oral argument must be allowed
in every case unless a panel of three judges who have
examined the briefs and record unanimously agrees that oral
argument is unnecessary for any of the following reasons: (A)
the appeal is frivolous; (B) the dispositive issue or issues
have been authoritatively decided; or (C) the facts and legal
arguments are adequately presented in the briefs and record,
and the decisional process would not be significantly aided
by oral argument."
commonly appearing footnote quoted above thus tracks Rule
34(a)(2)(C), but is inapposite to the present case and thus
is properly omitted from the panel opinion. The appellees
were not served with process in the district court and have
not participated in the appeal, and the only brief (not
briefs) filed in the case was the plaintiff's. The
plaintiff has no lawyer, has not requested that we try to
find one to represent her in this court, and has not asked
for oral argument. The appellate record circulated to the
three judges who constitute this appellate panel consisted
solely of her complaint, the district judge's order
dismissing the case, and her brief-a brief that contains
almost nothing that could be regarded as a legal argument and
in many places misapprehends the function of a court of
appeals, as when she asks us "for a money judgment for
no less than $3 million and no more than $1 billion."
true that additional material (available to the judges on
request) appears in a separate appendix lodged with the clerk
of our court, but none of that material is germane to the
issues on appeal. It recounts, for example, the
appellant's custody battles with her former husband,
including her state court custody litigation, and it adds
some medical records. Finally there is the district court
record, which has been filed with us but which contains
nothing of significance to the plaintiff's appeal: her
consent to jurisdiction by a magistrate ...