American Judges Association



Date of this Version



Court Review, Volume 49, Issue 2 (2013)


Copyright American Judges Association. Used by permission.


Can a judge be a Facebook friend with an attorney who appears before the judge? That question has resulted in conflicting ethics opinions. The Florida Judicial Ethics Committee concluded that a lawyer should not be a Facebook friend of a judge because the public identification of a lawyer as a “friend” of the judge “conveys the impression that the lawyer is in a position to influence the judge.” Florida Advisory Op. 2009-20 ( Similarly, a California ethics committee concluded that a judge may not have a social-networking relationship with an attorney while that attorney has a case pending before the judge. Calif. Judges Ass’n Judicial Ethics Comm. Op. 66 (2010) ( But other state ethics opinions have not been so restrictive:

• A New York advisory committee noted that a judge “generally may socialize in person with attorneys who appear in the judge’s court,” so using technology to do so shouldn’t create an ethics violation for the judge. Even so, the committee cautioned that the public nature of these online friendships might create the appearance of a particularly strong bond and thus require recusal. N.Y. Advisory Op. 08-176 (2009) (

• A Kentucky advisory committee urged judges to be “extremely cautious” and noted that several judges who had initially joined social-networking sites had since limited or ended their participation. But the committee concluded that a judge could ethically be a Facebook friend with persons who appeared in court, including attorneys, social workers, and law-enforcement personnel. Ky. Advisory Op. JE-119 (2010) (