Back in February, the American Bar Association cautioned judges about their use of social media. While sites like Facebook and Twitter can help judges stay in touch with the wider world, the ABA admonished that they should think twice before “friending,” “liking,” or “following” somebody.
A case in Florida drives home that concern.
The dispute centers around a circuit court judge who presided over a divorce proceeding. Before entering a final judgment, Judge Linda D. Schoonover sent the wife a Facebook “friend” request that the woman didn’t accept, according to court documents. In a complaint, the lawyer for the wife accused the judge of then retaliating against her by allegedly saddling her with “most of the marital debt” and giving the husband “a disproportionately excessive alimony award.”
Last week, an appellate court kicked the judge off the case and assigned the matter to a different judge, concluding that the wife had a “well-founded fear of not receiving a fair and impartial trial.”
The unrequited friend request “placed the litigant between the proverbial rock and a hard place: either engage in improper ex parte communications with the judge presiding over the case or risk offending the judge by not accepting the ‘friend’ request,” the appeals court wrote in its Jan. 24 decision. (Chicago intellectual property attorney Evan Brown, who blogs about...
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