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Judges Use Facebook, Too. But Should They?

By Laura Strachan, Esq. on November 09, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

You or your firm may have a Facebook page. Maybe not. It seems that the omnipresent social networking site has already infiltrated the judicial system in a variety of manifestations. When debating whether or not to join the Facebook ranks, it may be interesting to look at how judges are approaching the site and other social media. The Conference on Court Public Information Officers has taken a look at judiciary's use of Facebook and other social media.

The survey found that more than one-third of state court judges and magistrates use Facebook in either their personal or professional lives. Although the judges surveyed were split on many of the questions posed in the survey, an overwhelming majority of those polled agreed that, "judges and court employees needed to be educated about so called 'new media' -- from Facebook to Twitter to smartphones -- and learn how their use might impact day-to-day operations in their courthouses." In addition to cases involving social media, there are also issues with Facebook and Twitter being used during trial.

Here are some other key findings from the survey:

  • more than half of judges report routine jury instructions including some mention of social media use during trial;
  • 6.7% of courts polled have some type of social media profile;
  • appointed judges are less likely to use social media than elected judges; and
  • a majority of judges recognized the potential for a professional Facebook account to cause ethical concerns.

Finally, the report predicted that more courts will develop official presences on Facebook. Whether judges will continue to have personal Facebook accounts is a much more loaded question, and one that straddles the line between professional responsibility and keeping up with the growing trend. There is no denying that technology is changing the way attorneys practice law, it remains to be seen how much it affects judges and their staff.

The report also notes that social media and courtrooms operate in entirely different capacities and approaches. Bridging the gap between the two will be an interesting trend to follow.

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