Suit against state judge for denying Easter visit is dismissed

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

Todd v. Ichikawa, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 82998 (ED CA, June 13, 2012), a California federal magistrate judge recommended dismissing, on the grounds of absolute judicial immunity from damages, an action claiming that a state court judge violated the free exercise clause in denying a father’s application for a child visitation order. Derek Todd was permitted to visit his son only at the discretion of the mother and son. Todd sought a court order allowing him time with his son over Easter. He claimed that his religious practices for Easter consist of attending church, spending time with family, and searching for Easter eggs around the house. State Superior Court Judge Gary Ichikawa denied an ex parte hearing on Todd’s application. The federal district court also held that insofar as Todd is seeking prospective inunctive relief, “it would be inappropriate for a federal court to interfere in this family law matter pending in state court.”