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Judge's Campaign Facebook Page Not a Public Record

By George Khoury, Esq. on March 07, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

When it comes to judicial campaigns and suing judges, there's going to be some gray areas. One lawyer, and political hopeful, is learning the hard way that judges will almost always protect their own (Facebook pages).

The decree that a judge's campaign's Facebook page is not a public record subject to a public records request came as a result of litigation over horse slaughtering turned document vendetta. The lawyer that represented a slaughterhouse that was sued for using a facility to slaughter horses believed that the judge ruled based on political, and social media, pressures rather than the case's merits. To prove that point, the lawyer sought public records about the judge's process of review as well as records of his personal Facebook page used for his judicial campaigning.

It's Not All Public Record

In ruling against the conspiracy theorizing lawyer, the court explained that there was simply no evidence to show that the Facebook page had any connection to the court, or that the judge, or the court, used the page for official communications on behalf of the court, or any public business. State court judges have the right to campaign and have Facebook pages for that purpose.

The horse slaughterhouse lawyer believed that the many public comments on the judge's Facebook page urging the judge to shut down horse slaughtering for food and praising the judge for doing so are indicative of bias or something. Regardless of the contents of the comments, the court ruled that the judge's Facebook page is not a public record.

Anti-Social Media

Interestingly, after this ruling, the judge's Facebook page had a rather spite-laden comment appear from a user whose name clearly shows political support for the attorney's next attempt to enter politics. That comment read:

If you want to have a private communication with a judge about a case in front of him just mail him at home, email his private account or if you can't find that information just send him a private message through Facebook. Don't worry, even if you are talking about public business, it is not a public record. Even if the judicial district does violate the law because a Justice personally does not like your lawyer and you now have the records that the district failed to properly produce that Supreme Court is going to call it 'no harm no foul' and prohibit you from holding the judicial district to account any further.

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