Judges in the Sunshine State may be de-friending a lot of lawyers on Facebook.
The Florida Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee opined on whether judge may accept “social networking” friendships from lawyers who might appear before them. The answer? NO.
The Legal Profession Blog pointed out the opinion here. The WSJ Law Blog also discussed the opinion, noting that being Facebook “friends” means something a little more than exchanging business cards, but not much.
The Committee recognised the fact that social networking “friends” may not actually be friends, but that it is the fact that it could convey an appearance of influence on the judge by the lawyer friend.
So old school! It’s the tried and true legal phrase “the appearance of impropriety” that will get you every time.
The opinion does not specifically address whether a lawyer following a judge on Twitter is akin to friendship.
So we ask: Is Twitter still considered a “social networking” site? Is a “Follower” equal to a “Friend”? Does the Committee’s opinion that judges should not add someone as a friend mean they have the responsibility to actually block them? Do people think we appear to have influence over New York Times food critic Sam Sifton (@samsifton) because we follow him on Twitter?
Do you want to answer these questions as practice for your law exam?
If one uses Tweetdeck, it does of course tell you a “friend” has posted a message, so better safe than sorry in Florida — judges dying for local attorneys to know where they’ve checked in on foursquare are just going to have to refrain.
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