May it Please The Court, I’d Like to Tweet Now

Last week, the Iowa Supreme Court submitted a proposal to revise its current rules for expanded media coverage during courtroom proceedings, specifically addressing the use of smart phones, tablets and the like to live blog and tweet. With most of my courtroom experience to date taking place in NY and PA courts I found this to be quite interesting. Although some judges in NY and PA allow certain uses of mobile devices, most courts I have been in had a pretty strict no-cell-phone-use policy. I have, on more than one occasion, witnessed judges stop everything in order to reprimand an attorney or even a gallery member for not having their phone on silent. There are currently 36 states (see survey link below) that have a policy addressing the use Twitter in the Courtroom, but only a handful of those policies actually allow members of the media to use social media to report live from court.

One can immediately see at least some of the upside of allowing live tweets from court, as nationwide-dissemination of a tweet to the general public will grant them instantaneous access and knowledge of everything happening in the proceeding. However, one should just as easily be able to recognize some shortfalls of allowing the use of social media from live court. For instance, what if an empanelled juror came across certain blogs or tweets that affects their impartiality? Can justice truly be served or will the use of social media during a live trail put certain litigants at a disadvantage? With the exponential growth of social media and more and more people getting their news from social media platforms each year, it seems only inevitable that these are questions courts across the country will be facing in the near future. However, according to the most recent survey conducted by the CCPIO, an organization that partners with the National Center for State Courts, we are still further away than one might think from all courts hopping on the Social Media Train.

Doctors and Judges: Who Can They Friend On Facebook?

Some doctors use social media to discuss health topics, while other doctors use their Facebook or twitters as a tool to become more available to their patients.  Doctors who accept friend requests from patients may face concerns such as protecting patient privacy and maintaining appropriate boundaries between professional and social relationships.  At first glance, one may believe that there is no harm in doctors and patients being Facebook friends, however, as the article notes, this could violate HIPPA laws.

Judges face similar challenges when they choose to accept friend requests from prosecutors or defense lawyers who appear before them. In Florida, the court may soon clarify the parameters that judges and lawyers must abide by in regards to social media interaction. A Broward criminal case could set the stage for state law that will dictate who a judge can “friend” on Facebook.   This case arose after a defense attorney filed a motion to disqualify a judge because he was friends on Facebook with the assistant state attorney.

Would you feel comfortable friend requesting your doctor?