Friday, November 1, 2013

How Do Judges Feel About Social Media?

Recently Texas Lawyer interviewed  judges with a Q&A on a number of matters, including social media.  I thought it would be interesting to examine some of the answers to help guide future decision-making in regard to a safe social media policy for attorneys, law firms, and thier clients.

"Friending" Judges

The rules of ethics apply to social media the same as they apply to any other form of communication with the court.  There doesn't need to be special rules about what you can or can't say on Facebook or Twitter or any other social media out there.  Communicating with or "friending" a judge outside of a courtroom is still considered improper.

Is a "Like" Free Speech?

The kind of communication you would have with a colleague at the office or a social function or phone call equates directly with "friending" a comment or social media post.  There is nothing wrong with it. The problem lies with communicating directly with the court about the case and the other side's not there. Commenting on a Facebook wall about your general optimism of a case is fine but you cross the line when you reach out to a judge and say "Judge, I really have this great argument I want to share with you,".

Juries That Google

There's new rules and instructions that the court is supposed to give the jury during their instruction phase.   Judges need to make sure they go extensively over what the jury can and can't do on these matters. Attorneys should make sure judges do this.

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