Adjunct Law Prof Blog

Editor: Mitchell H. Rubinstein
New York Law School

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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Judges and Facebook

What if a judge "friends" a lawyer on Facebook? Can that person appear before him or her?? No, according to a recent Florida Ethics opinion,

A Dec. 10, 2009 NY Times article about this Ethics Opinion is available here. As the article states:

When judges “friend” lawyers who may appear before them, the committee said, it creates the appearance of a conflict of interest, since it “reasonably conveys to others the impression that these lawyer ‘friends’ are in a special position to influence the judge.”

In practice, of course, actual friends and Facebook friends can be as different as leather and pleather, and the committee did recognize that online friends were not the same as friends in the traditional sense. A minority of the panel would have allowed Facebook friendship, which it characterized as more like “a contact or acquaintance” without conveying the notion of “feelings of affection or personal regard.”

While I certainly understand the concern and the Opinion is probably correct. There are First Amendment and other issues that are ripe for law review commentary.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/adjunctprofs/2009/12/judges-and-facebook.html

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