BY BUDDY NEVINS
Some of the folks in the black robe can’t be your Facebook friend anymore…if you are a lawyer.
A ruling December 15 by the Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee of the Florida Supreme Court stated that judges can’t “friend lawyers on Facebook.
So Broward judges are rushing to “defriend members of the Bar.
Here is an e-mail one lawyer got from a local well-known county court judge:
“Subject: JEAC Opinion
Hi (name removed)
Last month, the Florida Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee concluded that a judge cannot be a Facebook “friend” to an attorney who “may” appear before me because the “identification of the lawyer as a friend on the social
networking site conveys the impression that the lawyer is in a position to
influence the judge.” Because of this new opinion, I will regretfully have
to “defriend” you.
Please don’t take it personally!
Hundreds of these e-mails from various judges have been zipping around legal circles.
The thinking behind the ruling is that judges must decide which lawyers can become their Facebook friends.
Thus, the process violates Canon 2B, which states: “A judge shall not lend the prestige of judicial office to advance the private interests of the judge or others; nor shall a judge convey or permit others to convey the impression that they are in a special position to influence the judge.”
No decision yet on whether the committee will curb Facebook campaign pages.
But the ruling indicated the committee was already thinking about it:
“The question then remains whether a campaign committee may establish a social networking page which allows lawyers who may practice before the judge to designate themselves as “fans” or supporters of the judge’s candidacy.”
Here is the ruling.