The Ohio Supreme Court says it’s okay for judges to have a personal Facebook profile, but that a few ethical considerations should be taken into consideration. Yeah, I’d say!
A recent national study conducted by the Communication Professionals for the Courts shows that about 4 in 10 US judges use some kind of social media website like Facebook. It’s not surprising then that State Supreme Courts are beginning to analyse where the private life of a judge ends and where his pledge to the Code of Judicial Conduct begins.
As it turns out, Ohio’s Supreme Court sent out an advisory opinion yesterday saying that, yes, a judge might “friend” a lawyer who appears before him in court, for example, but that she must be very careful about how much interaction she has with such “friend”, and how much information the judge herself lets others see on her own page. So they are basically leaving it up to the judges to decide. But like we all know, trying to really measure or control for Facebook “lurking” is almost impossible. Try keeping an ex-lover or your new crush on Facebook and not looking at her/his profile. Facebook between people with weak or compromising ties is powerful for that very reason: it appeals to our inner voyeur. But, of course, a judge should know better.
Other noteworthy ethical considerations they should keep in mind:
- Do not comment on Facebook about other judges’ cases before they have reached a decision.
- Careful with those photo, status, and post comments!
- Don’t go on a witness’ or party’s personal profile to obtain information about them or the cause of trial. (So does that mean they can go and just creep?)
Judges are people and as such they have a right to online personal profiles, but should they risk it? What do you think?