Monday, September 11, 2023

Judges and Facebook

The Pennsylvania Judicial Conduct Board has filed a complaint alleging misconduct by a Magisterial District Judge.

One charge involves the alleged use of a Facebook page where she is depicted in judicial robes.

She allegedly posted a picture of a product called X-it Red with the post

You do not want to miss out on this great business opportunity!!! All I can say is... it works. It's worth it. So let's get it. Reach out to me through messenger, phone or text. 

WGAL 8 described the charges

The Pennsylvania Judicial Conduct Board has filed charges against Dauphin County Magisterial District Judge Sonya McKnight and asked that she be suspended once again.

The board alleged those charges Wednesday with the Court of Judicial Discipline, claiming McKnight committed multiple violations of the Rules Governing Standards of Conduct of Magisterial District Judges and the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

The complaint alleges McKnight in 2022 intervened in the filing of a lawsuit against her and, in July 2021, used her position to obtain information connected to a criminal case against her in which she was accused of interfering in her son's arrest. She was later acquitted.

The complaint also says she failed to recuse herself in cases when she should have that involved her former attorney and an officer connected to her previous arrest.

Other allegations leveled in the complaint say McKnight solicited for a product on her Facebook page that identified her as a judge; did not show up for night court duties earlier this year, forcing other judges to cover for her; and improperly gave staffers an additional four vacation days off, constituting theft of time.

A separate motion sought to have her suspended while the new charges are considered and her probation revoked, citing part of a 2023 order from the court that said McKnight was not to commit any other ethical violations. She was previously suspended for 190 days in 2021 and served 10 additional days earlier this year to complete a 200 day suspension.

McKnight will have the opportunity to defend herself against the new charges in a trial. If the court determines the charges have been proven, she could face sanctions, including censure, suspension, fine or removal from office.

The excellent web page of the Court has the extensive pleadings in an unrelated case against a Philadelphia judge who allegedly violated judicial standards by Facebook posts on political subjects.

The Answer to the complaint denies any misconduct.

An order permitting expert testimony on the definition of "partisan political activity" and the "workings of the internet as relevant" calls the matter a "case of first impression."

A recent order sets a post-hearing briefing schedule. (Mike Frisch)

Judicial Ethics and the Courts | Permalink


Interesting read. Highest standards of the judicial conduct must be maintained by everyone in the legal profession.

Posted by: Judicial Conduct | Sep 14, 2023 8:07:04 AM

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