Category Archives: Social Media

twitter-subpoena

20 Interesting Facts About Twitter – Infographic

Okay, this technically does not have much to do with the law. But if you stop and think for a minute, this type of information illustrates the ever increasing prevalence of social media use in our lives. Given these statistics, it is hardly surprising to see social media appear in nearly all facets of life, including the law. So here you go. 20 interesting facts about Twitter. That’s right. An entire infographic dedicated to amazing Twitter stats.

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Social Media Reviews – Attorneys

Posted by Arthur, a Trademark client,  

  • I recommend Tyson Snow.
  • I hired Tyson 1-6 months ago.
  • Tyson handled my Trademark Infringement matter.
  • I have previously worked with 3-5 lawyers.

    Tyson is extremely knowledgeable and strategically aggressive. After a 5 year trademark nightmare using my last attorney, Tyson took over and was able to avoid trial and force a good settlement within 6 months on the case. Thank you Tyson.

Thank you for the kind words Arthur! It is always good to be appreciated! This is a great example of how social media reviews can establish your name recognition, your prominence, and your areas of expertise.

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Judge’s Use of Electronic Social Networking Media

Judge’s Use of Electronic Social Networking Media – ABA Formal Opinion 462:

A judge may participate in electronic social networking, but as with all social relationships and contacts, a judge must comply with relevant provisions of the Code of Judicial Conduct and avoid any conduct that would undermine the judge’s independence, integrity, or impartiality, or create an appearance of impropriety.“ 

aba-20427According to Formal Opinion 462 [PDF] of the American Bar Association,  published on February 21, 2013. Surely, this formal opinion, which refers to Electronic Social Media (“ESM”), has been in the works for a long time. It is, however, at odds with a recent Florida decision I previously discussed. In that case a Florida appellate court held that a judge should have recused himself because he was a Facebook “friend” of an attorney appearing in the matter: Lawyers & Judges: Be Careful Who You Friend.

Domville v. State, — So.3d —-, 2012 WL 3826764 (Fla. App. 2012).

As indicated in that post, the Florida Supreme Court was going to take up the issue but with this recent opinion from the ABA, it may now be moot. I imagine the Florida Supreme Court will cite to this opinion and rely on the relevant Rules of Judicial Conduct in acknowledging that social media “relationships” are not problematic so long as they do not undermine or bring into question the judge’s appearance of impartiality.

The formal “Judge’s Use of Electronic Social Networking Media” Opinion will likely clear up this issue that has previously been addressed in piecemeal fashion by various state bar organizations.

Here are a couple of comments from the Opinion I found interesting:

  • A judge who participates in ESM should be mindful of relevant provisions of the Model Code. For example, while sharing comments, photographs, and other information, a judge must keep in mind the requirements of Rule 1.2 that call upon the judge to act in a manner that promotes public confidence in the judiciary, as previously discussed.
  • The judge should not form relationships with persons or organizations that may violate Rule 2.4(C) by conveying an impression that these persons or organizations are in a position to influence the judge.
  • A judge who has an ESM connection with a lawyer or party who has a pending or impending matter before the court must evaluate that ESM connection to determine whether the judge should disclose the relationship prior to, or at the initial appearance of the person before the court.
  • [However] Because of the open and casual nature of ESM communication, a judge will seldom have an affirmative duty to disclose an ESM connection.
  • [But] a judge should disclose on the record information the judge believes the parties or their lawyers might reasonably consider relevant to a possible motion for disqualification even if the judge believes there is no basis for the disqualification.

The opinion goes on to discuss a judge’s use of social media in running a judicial campaign. I am adamantly opposed to judicial elections. So, if you live in a jurisdiction where you elect judges during election cycles or if you are a judge who has to campaign for your position, you can read the opinion to determine what you can and cannot do.

Free prize to anyone who sends me a transcript or an order / opinion that includes a judgment disclosing an ESM connection with one or more lawyers involved. I have numerous judges as social media friends. Maybe I can be the first!

(UPDATE): Lawyers & Judges: Be Careful Who You Friend

Several months ago, I wrote about an interesting case in Florida; the post discussed a Florida appellate decision holding that a trial court judge should have recused himself because he was Facebook friends with the prosecutor. Summarizing from Lawyers & Judges: Be Careful Who You Friend:fbkgavel-a

In Domville v. State, — So.3d —-, 2012 WL 3826764 (Fla. App. 2012), the defendant moved to disqualify the trial court judge because of the judge and the prosecuting attorney were Facebook friends. Id. at *1 (“Petitioner Pierre Domville moved to disqualify the trial judge. The motion was supported by an affidavit averring that the prosecutor handling the case and the trial judge are Facebook ‘friends.’ This relationship caused Domville to believe that the judge could not ‘be fair and impartial.’”). The trial court denied the motion and Domville appealed.

The appellate court reversed the trial court and concluded that “[A] judge’s activity on a social networking site may undermine confidence in the judge’s neutrality. Judges must be vigilant in monitoring their public conduct so as to avoid situations that will compromise the appearance of impartiality.” Id. at *2. And since Domville had “alleged facts that would create in a reasonably prudent person a well-founded fear of not receiving a fair and impartial trial,” id., the appellate court reversed the trial court and disqualified the trial court judge.

According to the ABA Journal, Florida courts are now looking to the Florida Supreme Court for guidance on the issue. As noted in Should a judge recuse due to Facebook friendship with prosecutor? Florida supremes asked to decide:

A Florida appeals court wants guidance on an ethics issue: Should judges recuse from cases when they are Facebook friends with the prosecutor?

The 4th District Court of Appeal said on Wednesday that the matter is of great importance, and the Florida Supreme Court should decide the issue . . . .

It will be interesting to see how this case continues to develop. It is hard for me to imagine a world where judges must recuse themselves if they are Facebook friends with counsel. Most judges are former lawyers, worked for years with other lawyers, and continue to associate with lawyers. That a judge is a Facebook friend with another lawyer is no surprise at all. Personally, I am Facebook friends with several judges, most of whom were my “friends” before they took the bench. That we are “friends” says nothing (in my mind) about the judge’s ability to act impartially with respect to the matters before it. If we can be “friends” in real life, can’t we be friends on social networks?

The Florida Supreme Court should find that judges and lawyers can be Facebook friends without violating any ethical rules and that the “friendship” does not require recusal (absent additional factors).