Moffett v. Bryant, No. 13-30781 (5th Cir. 2014)Annotate this Case
Plaintiff filed suit against a Louisiana state court judge under 42 U.S.C. 1983 and 1985, alleging a deprivation of civil rights. The judge presided over a custody proceeding between plaintiff and his ex-wife. Plaintiff moved to recuse the judge based on his suspicion that the judge had a social relationship with his ex-wife. The motion was denied. Plaintiff later renewed the recusal motion and the judge issued an order recusing himself, citing his friendship with the ex-wife. Plaintiff then filed this suit seeking monetary damages. Plaintiff alleged that the judge and his ex-wife conspired to make false statements at the first recusal hearing. The court concluded that when the judge testified, he was testifying as a witness in an adversarial proceeding and thus was absolutely immune from section 1983 liability. The court also concluded that the section 1985 claim was inadequately pled because a violation under section 1985 required class-based, invidiously discriminatory animus behind the conspirator's action. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court.