Populous and widespread, social networking sites draw participants from an increasingly broad spectrum. They comprise an open forum that has torn down walls established by many institutions, including the legal system. Social networking online is a remote sensory experience engaging our minds at many levels, and it will take time for us to adapt to this unprecedented way of communicating with one another. Moreover, it imposes a unique burden on the judicial component of our system. Several recent cases illustrate the pitfalls for judges and lawyers who use social networking.
Early in 2009, the Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics[FOOTNOTE 1] issued opinion No. 08-176 prompted by an inquiry from a judge who received an invitation to join a social networking site. This site was aimed at professional networking that would allow sharing business-related information, contacts and, most notably, the ability to “interact with lawyers and litigants.” The committee recognized a host of potential benefits from membership, such as staying in touch with distant family members, former schoolmates and associates. There was nothing “inherently” wrong with joining, since it was comparable to the type of socializing judges already do in person. They keenly divorced the mode of communication from how it was used. To Continue Reading: Click Here