Facebook and the Bench

Hidden by the furore over Facebook’s privacy policy changes this week, an interesting little story about Facebook relationships between judges and lawyers popped up this week.

Florida’s Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee came out with a guideline on whether judges can “friend” lawyers who are appearing in cases before them. According to the Committee, it isn’t permissible since it creates the impression that the “friended” lawyer is in a position to influence the judge.

Of course, most people’s facebook friend list is comprised mostly of people who you’ve barely spoken with recently, never mind having any influence over. Luckily, judges can still make friends on facebook… lawyers can still become their fans, as long as the judge can’t say no to their request.

The guideline is available here.


  1. Facebook use has been considered by the Canadian Judicial Council http://www.cjc-ccm.gc.ca/english/news_en.asp?selMenu=news_pub_techissues_en.asp under technology news. Secure Social Networking is a piece that covers the concerns that should be considered when using facebook and twitter and it was prepared by Martin Felsky.