Judges Cannot "Friend" Lawyers Via Social Media Says Florida Supreme Court
In Florida, the Supreme Court's Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee issued a 11/17/2009 decision, holding that judges may not connect with attorneys on Facebook, or similar social networking media. The Committee's decision is based on a Florida's judicial canon prohibiting the appearance that a lawyer, or anyone else, is in a special position to influence the judge.
Floridian judges, however, remain free to post comments to their non-lawyer "friends", and can develop "fan pages" to help with their reelection campaigns. Only the attorney-judge connection is now taboo in Florida.
The Ethics Advisory Committee stated that, "judges cannot isolate themselves entirely from the real world and cannot be expected to avoid all friendships outside of their judicial responsibilities, some restrictions upon a judge’s conduct are inherent in the office."
Ethics are catching-up slowly with attorneys and judges in the web 2.0 world. Some states, like Louisiana, New York, and now Florida, have taken a restrictive view of lawyer's and judge's permissible activities on such sites.
Linked-In, Twitter, and Facebook remain available to our judges. You can expect Michigan's never shy Judicial Tenure Commission to address the situation as soon as the right case rolls around. Shouldn't be too long... Stay tuned.