Judge’s Guide to Social Media

The Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled yesterday that it was grounds for disqualification if a judge was Facebook-friends with the prosecutor.  In Pierre Domville v. State of Florida, a criminal defendant moved to disqualify Judge Andrew Siegel because the prosecutor was one of the judge’s friends on Facebook.  The Court relied upon Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee Opinion 2009-20, which notes that such public display of connection creates the appearance of impropriety.

So what is a judge to do?  The quick-and-clean option is to de-activate all social media accounts.  That may not be desirable.  The more reasonable option is to revisit social media accounts and determine if they can be open to anyone so that there is no acceptance or rejection of contacts.  Ironically, Facebook (like Twitter) has a fairly easy solution: open a fan page so that anyone can follow you (obviously, the content on an open fan page is likely a bit less personal than what you might share in your circle of Facebook friends).  Contact your current Facebook friends explaining that anyone who might reasonably appear in front of you is going to be de-friended (no offense).  Leave the “private” Facebook account for personal and family contacts who will not appear before you.

UPDATED (9/15/12): Daily Business Review’s “Judges React to Fourth DCA Opinion Over Facebook Friendships.”

 

Data Breach
Christopher Hopkins Discusses Cybersecurity & Technology for Lawyers At Law Firm Leaders Summit

I was invited to speak today in Tampa about cybersecurity and technology for lawyers at the Law Firm Leaders Summit conference. I presented to both “small firm” and “large firm” tracks at the seminar. We covered: Getting hacked on public wifi Phishing, Spearfishing and other hacks Ransomware U.S. Government’s “NIT” …

1st Amendment
The First Amendment and the Hurdles to Obtain an Injunction in Florida for Social Media Cyberstalking (Derek Warren Logue v. Lauren Frances Book)

A Florida trial court entered an injunction for stalking against the appellant for, among other things, posting a picture of the appellee’s house with her address, a song video with obscene title and lyrics, and a cartoon depicting the appellee with an obscene reference. The appellant filed an appeal, claiming …

1st Amendment
Three Steps to Understanding Why Government Officials Cannot Block Users on Social Media (Knight First Amendment Institute et al. v. Donald J. Trump et al.)

There is some confusion about the recent Second Circuit opinion as to how, on a private social media platform, a government official, using a personal account, cannot block other users. The following three step process should lead just about everyone to understand the outcome. The case is Knight First Amendment …