It is not often that Federal Court decisions impact upon state divorce or family law issues. However, two recent federal decisions to have family law repercussions—-

Judicial Immunity
The Third Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the Circuit Court’s dismissal of federal statutory and constitutional claims by unsuccessful litigant in a state court paternity and custody action alleging federal statutory and constitutional violations.

The Court of Appeals held that the Federal Courts lacked jurisdiction to consider the claims against the Judge, and that the court appointed psychologist was entitled to absolute immunity.

This federal case is consistent with New Jersey state court holdings which grant Judges and court appointed experts judicial immunity for their recommendations and decisions. DTB vs. Advisory Committee on Professional Ethics, Thrd Cir, Opinion # 46-8-7788, filed 9/14/2004.


Spoilation of Evidence
In a civil action a litigant destroyed e-mails. The other party requested a charge for an adverse inference instruction for the destruction and non production of the e-mails. The Court approved an instruction which punished the violator, deterred future misconduct and restored the other party to the position it would have been in had the evidence not been destroyed.

This case may be persuasive in those case in which matrimonial litigants destroy records. Mosaid Techs vs. Samsung Electronics, US Dist CT. Opin # 07-7-7779.