It happened in America, in the 21st century, in a mobbed-up town of Hazleton, Pennsylvania, in the mountains of Northeast Pennsylvania.
Two corrupt Northeast Pennsylvania judges took millions of dollars in bribers from developers to fix juvenile cases for pay, incarcerating children as young as eight years old, all in exchange for $2.8 million bribe money from developers of a private prison for children.
The two corrupt judges were caught red-handed, with both a Jupiter, Florida condo and yacht called "Reel Justice" seized as proceeds of one of the largest judicial corruption scandals in U.S. history.
The U.S. Justice Department obtained convictions and sent them to federal prison. Now the two corrupt judges have been ordered to pay $205,295,493.53 in compensatory and punitive damages to hundreds of victims.
Their case may help end the hoary old doctrine of "judicial immunity," which has its roots in British law and in the line of cases following Bradley v. Fisher, a case where the Supreme Court denied relief for a lawyer disbarred for zealous advocacy on behalf of defendants charged in the Abraham Lincoln murder.
When I was in law school in Memphis, I wrote that judicial immunity should be abolished for corrupt or malicious acts by judges, a seemingly radical proposition that did not amuse or arouse the support of the censorious student show-runners of our hopelessly provincial Memphis State U. Law review. See, Ed Slavin, "You're Not on Law Review, Are You?," American Bar Association Student Lawyer Magazine (August 1988), on abuse of law review membership as a shibboleth for discrimination in hiring of lawyers.
I' still think that judicial immunity encourages illegal conduct, and that this hoary document needs to be abolished or limited.
Now, thanks to United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania District Chief Judge Christopher C. Conner's ruling for nearly 300 victims of two corrupt judges in a mobbed-up Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, let's hope judicial immunity will wither and die.
If a judge takes a bribe and is convicted of it (like these two), there should be no immunity, no "Colgate invisible shield" protecting then corrupt from their victims.
From AP and The Washington Post, followed by the full text of U,S. District Court Judge's remedial order against the two judges and the developers who paid them to incarcerate children in for-profit jails: