Sexting Judge Wade McCree Immune From Lawsuit
Ex-judge Wade McCree of Detroit is immune from a civil suit filed against him by the ex-husband of a woman McCree had an affair with - while her ex-husband's case was before McCree when he was a judge - says the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.
"Disgraced former Wayne County Circuit Judge Wade McCree, who had an affair with a woman while presiding over her child custody case, got some good news from a federal appeals court this week: He can’t be sued by the child’s father.
That’s what the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals concluded in a 24-page decision Monday, stating that while McCree’s actions were [']often reprehensible,['] he is immune from lawsuits under the longheld doctrine of judicial immunity.
The ruling rubbed one attorney the wrong way: Joel Sklar, who is appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court for help in loosening up the doctrine that says judges can’t be sued for decisions they make on the bench.
[']There should be no immunity for what happened here,['] said Sklar, who believes McCree improperly used the judicial immunity doctrine [']as a shield for self interest['] so that he could have a sexual relationship with a woman who appeared before him in a child custody case.
Sklar represents the child’s father, Robert King, who is fighting for the right to sue McCree, alleging he denied him access to a fair and impartial judge: McCree was having an affair with his child’s mother, sexted her from the bench, and gave her thousands of dollars.
The courts, meanwhile, have long held that judge’s can’t be sued by litigants. Sklar hopes the U.S. Supreme Court reconsiders.
[']The fight isn’t over yet,['] Sklar said. [']We’re not done.[']
McCree’s attorney, Brian Einhorn, is skeptical about Sklar’s fight.
[']I think he’s wasting his time,['] Einhorn said of Sklar’s efforts to get the case before the U.S. Supreme Court. [']I didn’t think there was a basis to the lawsuit when he started it ... or after the appeal.[']
Einhorn also applauded the Sixth Circuit for upholding the judicial immunity doctrine on McCree’s behalf. He said McCree acted appropriately by tethering the father and ordering him to pay child support. That was his job as a judge, he said, adding the father had conceded he owed child support.
[']In our system, people are going to be unhappy when a judge renders a decision. And if a judge can be sued because the decision they made — in someone’s opinion — was right, wrong or unfair, then our system of justice doesn’t work,['] Einhorn said, adding McCree [']followed the law.[']
King, the child’s father, disagrees. In his lawsuit, he alleges McCree gave favorable rulings to the mother because of his [']desires for sexual gratifications.['] For example, he alleged, McCree unfairly ordered high child support payments and forced him to wear a tether to please the mother.
The scandal, meanwhile, didn’t sit well with two courts. Both a lower court judge and the Sixth Circuit noted in their opinions that just because they gave McCree immunity from a lawsuit didn’t mean they condoned his behavior.
[']Casual readers of this opinion ... may erroneously conclude that ... we are somehow endorsing Judge McCree’s conduct or going out of our way to protect one of our own,['] U.S. Sixth Circuit Judge R. Guy Cole wrote in Monday’s opinion, adding [']We do nothing of the sort.[']
Cole went on to credit the Michigan Supreme Court for — as he put it — rendering [']the best justice possible['] in the McCree case: It removed him from the bench in March and suspended him without pay for six years, just in case he is re-elected to office this fall.
McCree’s downfall started in 2012 while presiding over a child support case between Geniene LaShay Mott and Robert King. The married McCree ended up having an affair with Mott, who eventually disclosed the relationship to a local television reporter. Salacious text messages and other evidence show McCree was aware of his conflict of interest in the 2012 child-support case, but he continued the affair anyway.
King, the child’s father, ended up suing McCree, alleging the judge deprived him of his due process rights, specifically, the right to be heard by a fair and impartial judge.
U.S. District Judge Avern Cohn disagreed, concluding that while the court [']in no way endorses['] McCree’s conduct, McCree is entitled to immunity from lawsuits arising out of his actions as a judge. The Sixth Circuit agreed.
McCree is the son of the late Wade Hampton McCree Jr., who was the first black person appointed to the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals and the second black solicitor general in U.S. history.
According to King’s lawsuit:
- McCree flirted with Mott from the bench and had a lunch date with her.
- McCree had sex repeatedly with her, including in chambers.
- McCree sent Mott sexual texts from the bench.
- McCree kept the affair quiet while he presided over their child support case.
The younger McCree drew notoriety after texting a shirtless photo of himself to a sheriff’s office employee in 2010. Confronted about the incident by WJBK-TV (Channel 2) reporter Charlie LeDuff, McCree acknowledged sending the photo, adding: [']There’s no shame in my game.[']"