Judge's Friends are "Out of Order" on Facebook

Approach the bench, but don't poke the judge

By Scott McGrew
|  Friday, Dec 11, 2009  |  Updated 9:58 AM PDT
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Judge's Friends are "Out of Order" on Facebook

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On TV, judges often lecture lawyers.  Lawyers often roll their eyes in exasperation at judges.

In real life, though,  they tend to all be friends.  Judges, after all generally came from the very ranks of lawyers they face every day.

So it's not unexpected judges and lawyers might "friend" each other on Facebook.  But does that public association create the appearance of a conflict of interest?

Yes, says the Florida Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee.  While the committee's ruling is not law, most jurists would be ill advised to violate its wishes.

In its ruling, the committee said by sending friend requests to lawyers, or by accepting them the judge "conveys or permits others to convey the impression that they are in a special position to influence the judge".

Because in many situations the position of judge is an elected office, the committee said that judges would be allowed to have "fan" pages. 

Which means, strangely, while a lawyer cannot be a friend of a judge, he can be a fan.

No word on whether any of the parties involved can safely poke each other.

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