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Florida Says Judges Can't Even Be Facebook Friends With Lawyers

from the lead-a-solitary-life,-please dept

Earlier this year, we wrote about a lawsuit in North Carolina, where the judge friended one of the lawyers, and read and exchanged messages about the case with the lawyer on Facebook. That, obviously, seemed a bit extreme -- but what about just the plain old act of "friending" between a judge and a lawyer. Down in Florida, they've decided that's simply not allowed at all:
Whether a judge may add lawyers who may appear before the judge as "friends" on a social networking site, and permit such lawyers to add the judge as their "friend."

ANSWER: No.
That doesn't leave much room for ambiguity, does it? But, as Venkat Balasubramani notes, this is somewhat ridiculous. Judges and lawyers often have social relationships beyond the court, and pretending those don't exist just on Facebook seems pretty artificial.
My question to the advisory committee is whether this means that it's now inappropriate for a judge to have lunch with a lawyer friend, or engage in email banter with lawyer friends? Is attending the same party now off limits? I assume these actions would still be viewed as appropriate, given that lawyers and judges interact socially (and publicly) all the time. What's so special about Facebook friendship?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Mike C. (profile), Dec 11th, 2009 @ 9:54am

    Forget parties and social functions. What about...

    ...trade related functions.

    Conferences, seminars, education and training of any kind, trade shows. I guess those should be off limits too since a judge and lawyer may run into each other.

    Oh wait, new thought...travel. Imagine the consequences if a judge and lawyer were booked on the same airplane and sat next to each other. The HORROR!

    /sarcasm

     

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  2.  
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    Richard, Dec 11th, 2009 @ 10:01am

    They should literally have NO social relationship what so ever. I mean come on!

     

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  3.  
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    ., Dec 11th, 2009 @ 10:58am

    Bias

    I think that Judges should not be allowed to judge anything that a lawyer friend is presenting.

    It opens the door to corruption, bias and other things that are undesirable.

    But making friends, I don't see a problem with that. They should be free to befriend anyone they like, just not work with them in opposite sides on the same case(I was going to say room then I remembered that one can stream anything these days) or be approached by his friend that is a partner on of the guy who he is defending or accusing someone.

    Now how do you do that?

    People lie Judges and lawyers(specially lawyers) too.

     

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  4.  
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    TheStupidOne, Dec 11th, 2009 @ 11:01am

    Re:

    Judges should be place in a steel cage deprived of any human contact with only copies of the laws, their current case files, and supreme court opinions to read. Clearly this will give us unbiased judged who are very familiar with the law and able to judge best.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 11th, 2009 @ 11:01am

    Legal System. Lol.

     

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  6.  
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    Planetwebfoot, Dec 11th, 2009 @ 11:20am

    Social Networking

    This seems a little extreme to not allow judges to use social networking sites, but there are always going to be those people who push the limits and overstep their bounds so unfortuantley when that happens a line has to be drawn.

     

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  7.  
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    Liz, Dec 11th, 2009 @ 11:24am

    I'm suddenly reminded of the old Mac Judge from Futurama for some reason.

     

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  8.  
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    The Cenobyte, Dec 11th, 2009 @ 11:24am

    I say no.....

    I say 'no they shouldn't be allowed to spend time together outside of work'. Why not, these people honestly have done their best to twist the legal system and screw the public for decades now. They have made the legal system so complicated that no one can defend themselves and they make it so expensive to get professional help that the inocent end up in jail because they can't afford someone to really defend them.

    I hate lawyers, they force the letter of the law down our throat whiel ingoring the spirit. If people in families treated each other the way the legal system treats non-lawyers there would ge a lot fewer families. Maybe if we make Lawyers and Judges into Social Pariah we can drive them out of existance.

     

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  9.  
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    Jude Lawyer, Dec 11th, 2009 @ 11:33am

    re

    As usual the attempt is to address any appearance of impropriety rather than actual impropriety that might occur.

     

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  10.  
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    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile), Dec 11th, 2009 @ 11:35am

    Wait!

    Aren't judges essentially lawyers? Can two judges be friends? Can two lawyers be friends? Prosecutors and defense attorneys? Lawmakers (politicians) and lawyers? What if a judge is married to a lawyer? Can they show their relationship status? Idiotic!

     

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  11.  
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    nasch (profile), Dec 11th, 2009 @ 11:58am

    Facebook

    Question: What's so special about Facebook friendship?

    Answer: We don't understand it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
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    Derek G, Dec 11th, 2009 @ 12:56pm

    Promotion

    Aren't most judges previous lawyers? What happens next time a lawyer becomes a judge? Does he have to unfriend all his former co-workers?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
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    Chris, Dec 11th, 2009 @ 2:13pm

    Seriously?

    How is it possible that any amount of actual time was spent to decide this "officially"?

     

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  14.  
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    The Groove Tiger (profile), Dec 11th, 2009 @ 3:06pm

    This concept of wuv Facebook friendship confuses and infuriates us.

     

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  15.  
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    Danny (profile), Dec 11th, 2009 @ 3:34pm

    Country Club Set

    My question to the advisory committee is whether this means that it's now inappropriate for a judge to have lunch with a lawyer friend, or engage in email banter with lawyer friends? Is attending the same party now off limits?
    The better analogy is whether judges can be members of the same country club as lawyers who might appear before them.

    It would be very interesting to see the Florida advisory committee rule against this.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Gene Cavanaugh, Dec 12th, 2009 @ 3:00pm

    Judges, lawyers and Facebook

    What is missing is "who said No?"
    Was it the bar? An appeals court? The janitor? A taxi cab driver? Some stranger on the street?

    I don't think it is appropriate to react to this until we have enough information; though it is appropriate to react to that lack of information!

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2010 @ 10:00am

    Re:

    haha so true

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
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    Gainesville Dentist, Aug 3rd, 2010 @ 9:04am

    Social media too social

    I think it is a step in the prudent direction that obviously judges and lawyers should not be fraternizing even on the web. They would not be allowed to get a drink at the same bar and discuss a case. so what is the difference with social media? great post.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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