This morning the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit held in Fieger v. Ferry that infamous Michigan trial lawyer Geoffrey Fieger has standing to challenge the constitutionality of the Michigan Supreme Court's recusal rule, and that his challenge is not barred by the Rooker-Feldman doctrine.
To the extent that Fieger challenges the constitutionality of Michigan's recusal rules by alleging that "[t]he threat that the Plaintiff cannot, and will not, receive a fair hearing before an impartial and independent tribunal is real, immediate, and continuing," Rooker-Feldman does not bar his action. To that extent, the source of Fieger's alleged injury is not the past state court judgments; it is the purported unconstitutionality of Michigan's recusal rule as applied in future cases. Such a claim is independent of the past state court judgments. Thus, insofar as the district court dismissed Fieger's challenge to the constitutionality of Michigan's recusal rule pursuant to the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, the court's judgment must be reversed.At the same time, the court upheld the district court's dismissal of Fieger's attempt to challenge prior failures of Michigan justices to recuse themselves. Fieger claimed the justices' failure to recuse under section 1983
As background, Fieger hasbeen quite critical of several justices on Michigan's high court, and some of the justices returned fire. Fieger claimed that some of the justices' public comments about him demonstrated their animus against him, and that they should recuse themselves in cases involving him or his clients due to potential bias. In all, Fieger sought the recusal of four Michigan justices.