Florida judges banned from 'friending' lawyers on Facebook
What would people think?!
Florida judges are barred from becoming Facebook friends with local lawyers because the online relation implies they're BFFs in RL, the Sunshine State's legal ethics board has decided.
In November, the Florida Supreme Court's Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee determined that judges cannot include lawyers as friends on certain social network sites because the term "friends" conveys the traditional meaning of close affection.
The Committee said listing lawyers as "friends" is a violation of one of Florida's Code of Judicial Conduct canon rules that states a judge may not "convey or permit others to convey they are in a special position to influence the judge."
It stated that the issue at hand isn't whether the lawyer is actually in a position to influence the judge, but that others on the internet may see the listing as a true declaration of friendship.
"While judges cannot isolate themselves entirely from the real world and cannot be expected to avoid all friendships outside of their judicial responsibilities, some restrictions upon a judge's conduct are inherent to the office," the committee wrote.
As noted in WSJ law blog the oddness of the ruling lies in the rapid decay of the meaning of "friend" in the context of a social network. When websites like Facebook and MySpace were in their infancy, adding a "friend" usually implied a pre-existing at-least-semi-close relationship. Today, "friending" is an adjective on the web and no more intimate than a handshake.
Those sentiments were expressed by the minority opinion of the committee:
The minority concludes that social networking sites have become so ubiquitous that the term "friend" on these pages does not convey the same meaning that it did in the pre-internet age; that today, the term "friend" on social networking sites merely conveys the message that a person so identified is a contact or acquaintance; and that such an identification does not convey that a person is a "friend" in the traditional sense.
Trust Florida to make this an issue, but "friend" is a loaded bit of lexicon to be making due with. And it's clearly stuck in the public consciousness. Hell, "unfriend" was the New Oxford American Dictionary's 2009 word of the year. We're already passing on meta uses of the word. ®
No silly! It maintains the illusion of a functioning judicial system in a country that doesn't have one. When OJ is walking free and underage girls are getting charged with felonies for taking a cell phone vid in a movie theater, you're doin' it wrong! Fail for our judicial system, anyone that's been chewed up by it can attest it's anything but fair or impartial.
what about transparency?
In my humble opinion, Facebook is like LinkedIn with lionshare of interesting applications. Many organizations use the facebook tool for professional networking only after running into limitation in choice of option on LinkedIn.
I would not be surprised if some of the friend of the judges have never met them in real life or barely exchanged 1 or 2 emails. Being listed as a friend is nothing more than a mere professional courtesy. If the opposing council has an issue then he should ask the judge for permission to friend them. That way he can be in the loop.
The fact that the judges show a lawyer as friend in their facebook profile show transparency. I'd be more worried if I didn't know of the connection.
That's funny. I thought "friending" was the present continuous of "to friend", which is a verb.
Shows you how much I know! Now where's my copy of "Far From The Friending Crowd"? :)