St. Petersburg, Fla. Florida’s judges and lawyers should no longer “friend” each other on Facebook, the popular social networking site, according to a ruling from the state’s Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee.
At least one South Florida judge warned her pals with a Facebook status update that they could be “unfriended,” and the ruling has prompted others to do the same. The committee ruled Nov. 17 that online “friendships” could create the impression that lawyers are in a special position to influence their judge friends.
The committee did conclude that a judge can post comments on another judge’s site and that during judicial elections, a judge’s campaign can have “fans” that include lawyers. And the ruling doesn’t single out Facebook.
“Although Facebook has been used as an example in this opinion, the holding of the opinion would apply to any social networking site which requires the member of the site to approve the listing of a ‘friend’ or contact on the member’s site,” the opinion said.
A few on the committee dissented, saying judges should be allowed to have Facebook friends because those relationships are more like “a contact or acquaintance.”