Wednesday, August 8, 2012
Contrats to our own contributing editor, Judge Craig Estlinbaum, who just published an important law review essay, Craig Estlinbaum, Social Networking and Judicial Ethics, 2 St. Mary's J. on Leg Mal & Ethics 2 (2012).
Many of us may not realize it, but posting on social networking sites and even blogging raises important ethical issues for judges. As Judge Estlinbaum points out, the danger is that a social posting by a judge may be misinterpreted. This is one of the few articles that discusses this important topic. There are only a few ethical opinions on this issue which are discussed in this essay. Judge Estlinbaum recommends that because of the pausity of authority, that Judges use "extraordinary caution" and he calls for state ethic committees to draft guidelines. This essay is full of useful statistics and information about social networking which may also be of use to researchers who are researching related topics.
The abstract provides:
Social network sites (SNSs) such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter have become an increasingly ever-present feature in American life since first appearing in the late 1990s. SNSs now impact virtually all parts of daily life, and the judiciary is not immune to this effect. Recent statistics show that approximately 40% of judges nationwide utilize SNSs for personal, professional, and electoral purposes.
Social media, like any public communication form, presents special ethical challenges for judges. In recent years, judicial ethics committees in various states have weighed in on these questions and have not shown any clear consensus. However, it is generally agreed that judges using SNSs must pay particular attention to how that use relates to the judge’s particular ethical obligations regarding relationships and communication with others. In general terms, social media participation by judges raises important ethical questions that directly impact how courts are perceived in the emerging media age.
Mitchell H. Rubinstein