Judge Should Choose her (Facebook) Friends More Wisely

A Florida Judge has been removed from a case for “friending” a litigant who was appearing before her bench.  Judge Linda D. Schoonover made an ex parte friend request to a litigant, who was involved in a divorce proceeding over which Judge Schoonover was presiding.  The litigant was wise enough to click “ignore”  refusing the connection.   But,  the Judge was arguably, annoyed by the litigant’s refusal.   Seems that after the friend denial, Judge Schoonover awarded most of the marital assets to the litigants’ ex-husband. (to read more click here)

Brian Hull, in his article, Why Can’t We Be “Friends”?: A Call for the Less Stringent Policy for Judges Using Online Social Networking, 63 Hatings L. J. 595 (2012)  makes a plausible argument for why allowing Judges to “friend” those who appear before him or her does not necessarily violate the Model Rules of Professional Responsibility.  In a seminar class discussion here at Pace, a great majority of the students seemed to side with Hull.  The bulk of their argument was that Judges would not be so reckless as to friend those who appear before them while proceedings were ongoing.  Seems Judge Schoonover has proved that these students should not be so hasty in giving judges the benefit of the doubt.

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