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Florida’s top lawyer is asking the state’s highest court to decide whether judges may be Facebook friends with prosecutors who argue in their courts.Florida Attorney General Pamela Bondi asked the state’s Supreme Court to review an appeals court’s decision that answered that very question.
The dispute over judges’ Facebook friendships began with Pierre Domville, who was charged with lewd and lascivious battery on a child, the Sun Sentinel reported.
His lawyer asked Circuit Judge Andrew Siegel to recuse himself because he was Facebook friends with assistant state attorney Nicole Alvarez, who’s no longer with the department, according to the Sun Sentinel.
Siegel refused to remove himself from the case, but the Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled that he had to because the Facebook friendship violated Florida’s judicial ethics code.
The three-judge panel on the appellate court wrote that when a judge lists a prosecutor as his Facebook friend, it “reasonably conveys to others the impression that these lawyer ‘friends’ are in a special position to influence the judge.”
They note judges should expect public scrutiny, even on social networking sites, and have to accept certain limitations on their freedoms because they are judges.
“Judges do not have the unfettered social freedoms of teenagers,” wrote District Judge Robert Gross.
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