Judge 'Friends' Lawyer During Case, Influenced By Defendant's Website

from the wow dept

So we've had plenty of stories about modern technology moving into the courtroom, but the issue is usually over jury members using Twitter, using Google or using Facebook. And there was the one case that involved witnesses text messaging each other from the stand. In all of these stories, the end result is the judge getting pissed off about the fact that the tech had been brought into the courtroom. However, this latest story is really quite incredible. Apparently a judge "friended" on Facebook one of the lawyers in an ongoing case (via Michael Scott). On top of that, the judge was found to have Googled information about the defendant, and even visited the defendant's own website -- which the judge admitted influenced how he felt about the defendant. The judge later disqualified himself from the case and has now been reprimanded for these actions. Still, while I can understand a jury member doing some of these things, you would think a lawyer would know better.

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    bulljustin (profile), 2 Jun 2009 @ 9:46am

    Yeah, but...

    Reading the article it sounds like the lawyers were misrepresenting facts in the case - "[friended counsel] later posted a Facebook reference to the issue of whether his client had had an affair, saying “How do I prove a negative?”" and "[The judge] told investigators the poem [found on opposing counsel's website] had suggested that [opposing counsel's] client was not as bitter as he first thought and had given him hope for the litigants’ children."

    So a lawyer was not truly representing the facts in a case, a judge, whose job it is to discern the truth, had to go around the standard judicial proceedings to find the truth of the matter. Sounds like he was trying to do his job. He could still have used the web to research the situation and influence his decision without getting "personally" involved.

    That said, he was out of line for friending only one of the lawyers. If both lawyers were not on fb then he should not have friended either. I've always thought the term "friend" was overused on any social site. I have a lot more acquaintances and people I barely knew in high school than actual friends on fb, but they are all called friends.

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