The story has been head-scratching right from the start -- a father losing custody, albeit temporarily, of his 7-year old son for giving him a Mike's Hard Lemonade to drink at a Tigers ball game, not realizing the lemonade was alcoholic. How could this happen? Answering that question led to a revision of the state's child protective custody law in 2011, and now, to a federal court decision rejecting judicial immunity for the kind of pre-signed, "fill in the blanks" removal order that led to young Leo Fratte's detention in "protective custody" for two nights. From Judge Avern Cohn's decision denying immunity to Wayne County Probate Judge Judy Hartsfield:
It is not Hartsfield’s actions in signing the form of order that plaintiffs complain about. Rather, it is Hartfield’s actions in putting in place a policy which allowed a pre-signed removal form to be filled in and docketed by non-judicial personnel, without judicial review, for a petition submitted to the family court after normal business hours. These actions, if true, are administrative. Hartsfield essentially signed pieces of paper that had no vitality until a third party–in this case a probation officer–filled in certain information on the paper. At the time the form of order was signed by Hartsfield, there were no parties before the court nor were there any active child custody proceedings. Her actions therefore could not have been “judicial acts.”
Here's the opinion.