ABA: Judges, do you really need to post that vacation photo?

March 1, 2013
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The American Bar Association doesn’t want to stop judges from using social media, but it wants them to think before “friending” someone online or “liking” someone’s Facebook status.

The ABA issued Formal Opinion 462 last week encouraging judges to remember their duties under the Model Code of Judicial Conduct when using social media like Twitter, Facebook, and the like. The bar association isn’t discouraging judges from using social media, but wants them to treat it like they would in-person interactions.

That includes disclosing if any relationships established through social media – for example, being “friends” with an attorney on Facebook who appears in his or her court – and whether that online connection requires a recusal.

“Because of the open and casual nature of ESM (electronic social media) communication, a judge will seldom have an affirmative duty to disclose an ESM connection,” the opinion says. But, it goes on to say that, “A judge should disclose on the record information the judge believes the parties or their lawyers might reasonably consider relevant to a possible motion for disqualification even if the judge believes there is no basis for the disqualification.”

“However, nothing requires a judge to search all of the judge’s ESM connections if a judge does not have specific knowledge of an ESM connection that rises to the level of an actual or perceived problematic relationship with any individual.”

The opinion also warns against “liking” certain groups or status online, making certain comments or posting pictures that could be considered in violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct.  As most people (hopefully) know, anything you post online will likely be there forever, even if you think you’ve deleted it.

The ABA also discusses using social media for campaigning and fundraising.

You can read the full opinion on the ABA’s website.

 

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  2. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  3. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  4. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  5. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

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