No surprise that a judicial ethics opinion would restrict Judges from becoming Facebook friends with lawyers who appear before them as it might give the impression of bias, but actually the opinion is broader and extends to any social networking site.
The impact of this Florida Ethics Advisory is difficult to predict, because the Florida Ethics Opinion stated “This opinion should not be interpreted to mean that the inquiring judge is prohibited from identifying any person as a "friend" on a social networking site. Instead, it is limited to the facts presented by the inquiring judge, related to lawyers who may appear before the judge.”
Where Is Social Networking Headed for the Judiciary?
Judges are elected to office in many states and in Texas (my home state) Judges run in partisan elections, however in the larger metropolitan communities few citizens know the Judicial candidates, only the lawyers. So lawyers are the normally the only ones to support political campaign and we even publicly endorse Judicial candidates. Contributing money in support of Judicial candidate sounds more biased that merely being a friend on Facebook.
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