In a case that was being watched as a potential point of precedent in our social media dominated world, the Florida Supreme Court has ruled that lawyers being associated with judges via social media platforms such as Facebook does not constitute a conflict of interest in and of itself, thus judges are not required to recuse themselves from cases involving their “friends.”
From CBS Miami:
Chief Justice Charles Canady, writing for the majority in a Miami-Dade County case, drew distinctions between Facebook relationships and other types of friendships. Canady wrote that court precedents establish that “not every relationship characterized as a friendship provides a basis for disqualification. And there is no reason that Facebook ‘friendships’ — which regularly involve strangers — should be singled out and subjected to a per se rule of disqualification.”
Still, concerns remain about the appearance of impropriety and that trials should be free of any doubts about impartiality.
Again, from CBS:
But Justice Barbara Pariente, in a dissent joined by justices R. Fred Lewis and Peggy Quince, said the court should adopt a “strict rule” requiring judges to remove themselves from cases involving lawyers who are their Facebook friends.
“The bottom line is that because of their indeterminate nature and the real possibility of impropriety, social media friendships between judges and lawyers who appear in the judge’s courtroom should not be permitted,” Pariente wrote.
The full text of the Court’s ruling can be found HERE.
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