What would happen if someone put together a list of every judge in the US and filed a lawsuit naming all of them as defendants? Obviously, it would be a frivolous lawsuit, but who can dismiss it without a conflict of interest? I don't think a jury trial is possible without an impartial judge?

1 Answer 1


It would be dismissed sua sponte on grounds including absolute judicial immunity from civil liability.

While conflict of interest rules for judges generally prohibit ruling on lawsuits in which you could potentially have an interest, there are narrow exceptions in cases where all judges are affected.

The Colorado Rule, which is similar in all U.S. jurisdictions, states:

In limited circumstances, the rule of necessity applies and allows judges to hear a case in which all other judges also would have a disqualifying interest or the case could not otherwise be heard.

Colo. Code. Jud. Cond. 2.11(D) ("Disqualification").

  • 3
    @Someone Yes. There is.
    – ohwilleke
    Aug 27, 2022 at 16:09
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    @Someone Literally all judges, no. But as I recall there was a case where someone sued the SCOTUS justices and quite a lot of others; they lost the case, appealed to SCOTUS, who all recused themselves, which effectively let the lower court's ruling stand. I think it was Shao v. Roberts. That case was dismissed sua sponte by the district court, as ohwilleke's answer indicates. Here's the SCOTUS "ruling" invoking lack of quorum. Aug 27, 2022 at 19:45
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    @Someone The rule is typically invoked, for example, in a challenge to the legality of the system for appointing judges in a state, or as another example, alleging that the fact that all state judges are beneficiaries of the state retirement system which has investments in company which is a party to a lawsuit constitutes a conflict of interest.
    – ohwilleke
    Aug 27, 2022 at 21:54
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    The rule has also been invoked in at least one federal lawsuit by judges about judicial compensation: US v. Will.
    – cpast
    Aug 27, 2022 at 22:50
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    Reading the Colorado Rule that you cite makes me wonder: if somebody sued every judge except one, then would that remaining judge be required to judge the case? Aug 28, 2022 at 6:21

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