Matthew Gibson v. Louise Goldston, No. 22-1757 (4th Cir. 2023)Annotate this Case
Plaintiff filed suit in federal district court against Judge Goldston and others present at the search. Plaintiff claimed that the warrantless search and seizure of his property violated his Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights, that the restrictions on recording the incident violated the First Amendment, and that Judge Goldston’s practice of conducting “home visits” violated the Equal Protection Clause by disadvantaging pro se litigants like himself. He sought compensatory and punitive damages under 42 U.S.C. Section 1983, as well as attorney’s fees and injunctive and declaratory relief. Judge Goldston moved for summary judgment, claiming she was entitled to absolute judicial immunity. The district court denied her motion. At issue on appeal is whether Judge Goldston is entitled to judicial immunity.
The Fourth Circuit affirmed, holding that judicial immunity protects only judicial acts. It does not shield the conduct of judges who step outside their judicial role, as Judge Goldston did when searching Plaintiff’s home. The court explained that while Judge Goldston might have had the authority to order a search, the proper authority to conduct the operation was the local sheriff’s department or some other appropriate law enforcement agency. The court explained that just as “judges do not do double duty as jailers,” so too they do not do double duty as sheriffs.