Throwback Thursday

10 years ago this month:

  • Based on the recommendation of the Commission on Judicial Conduct to which the judge consented, the Arizona Supreme Court suspended a judge for 60 days without pay for arriving in the courtroom between 5 and 18 minutes after her calendar was scheduled to begin 20% of the time, blaming the clerks, and claiming the delays were caused by lost and incomplete files attributable to the relocation of her court; chastising staff in the administrative area; interrupting staff meetings to require administrators to look for files even when clerks were available; and criticizing clerks when files were not in order. In the Matter of McVay, Judgment and Order (Arizona Supreme Court September 25, 2007).
  • The Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge who confronted a court employee in the public street and made a hand gesture in an accusatory manner and who used an obscene expletive in open court. Cornelio, Reprimand (Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct September 12, 2007).
  • The Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge who had quashed an arrest warrant based on the ex parte request of an attorney while the attorney was representing him in proceedings before the Commission. Morales, Order (Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct September 28, 2007).
  • The California Commission on Judicial Performance publicly admonished a judge for 2 incidents in which he failed to be dignified, patient, and courteous with deputies from the county sheriff’s department. Public Admonishment of Westra (California Commission on Judicial Performance September 5, 2007).
  • Granting a petition filed by the Commission on Judicial Standards based on stipulated findings of fact, the New Mexico Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a judge for endorsing a mayor for re-election and authorizing the use of his name in an endorsement that was published in the local newspaper. Inquiry Concerning Vincent, 172 P.3d 605 (New Mexico 2007).
  • Based on an agreed statement of facts, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly censured a judge who had gratuitously repeated a defendant’s inappropriate comments about his attorney’s physical appearance and repeatedly joked about the comments. In the Matter of Caplicki, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct September 26, 2007).
  • Pursuant to the judge’s agreement, the North Carolina Judicial Standards Commission publicly reprimanded a judge for finding defendants in a summary ejectment action in civil contempt due to their inability to pay a $2,480 award and ordering the defendants confined until the money was paid. In re Roemer, Public Reprimand (North Carolina Judicial Standards Commission September 4, 2007).
  • Accepting an agreement for discipline by consent, the South Carolina Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a former judge who had pled guilty to common law misconduct in office for coercing defendants to surrender money and property to the town in exchange for having their criminal charges dismissed. In the Matter of Stephens, 650 S.E.2d 849 (South Carolina 2007).

 

A sampling of recent judicial ethics advisory opinions

  • Subject to several conditions, a judge may meet with private vendors to procure or investigate services or products for use by the court or parties pursuant to court order but may not meet with vendors about developing or promoting their services. California Formal Opinion 2017-9.
  • When giving a speech at a court-sponsored Law Day event, a judge should focus on the law and not on comments by the President that she believes are critical of the role of an independent judiciary. New York Opinion 2017-54.
  •  To determine whether to unsubscribe from e-mails about political issues she receives on her personal e-mail account, a judicial official should consider whether the sending organization is concerned with the law, the legal system, or the administration of justice; whether the organization is a “political organization;” the extent to which the judicial official’s identity would be revealed to other recipients; and whether the e-mails concern a matter pending or impending in any court. Connecticut Informal Opinion 2017-8.
  • A judge may not meet with attorneys who represent criminal defendants for a “defense perspective” on the court’s handling of discovery, diversion, and disposition of cases. New York Opinion 17-101.
  • When a judge’s alleged misstatement of the law is the basis for an appeal but the judge does not recall her exact words, the judge may not advise the parties that she believes she correctly stated the legal standard and that the transcript is erroneous. New York Opinion 2017-61.
  • A judge may not appoint her sibling as a master commissioner. Kentucky Opinion JE-128 (2017).
  • A judge may not appoint her brother as a special prosecutor or guardian ad litem even when the appointment is governed by a rotating list. Nebraska Opinion 2017-2.  
  • A judicial nominee may provide a letter to clients stating that, as a result of her appointment to the bench, she will no longer be representing them, but that her law firm will continue the representation. Connecticut Informal Opinion 2017-2
  • A new judicial officer must advise his former law firm that his name needs to be removed from the firm name as soon as reasonably possible. Connecticut Informal Opinion 2017-5.  
  • A judge may not solicit funds for a non-profit drug treatment center or allow court employees to do so. Ohio Opinion 2017-6.  
  • A judicial association may accept $200 worth of appetizers from a restaurant for a cultural celebration open to the public. New York Opinion 2017-80.
  • A group of judges may not accept free tickets to sit in the governor’s box at Baltimore Orioles games. Maryland Opinion Request 2017-12.
  • A judge may be a housing resource for a relative on parole, but should not seek an exception to the parole board’s standard procedures based on his judicial status. New York Opinion 2017-77.  
  • A judge may appear in a family photograph on her first-degree relative’s campaign literature provided she does not wear a judicial robe and is not identified as a judge. New York Opinion 2017-79.  
  • A judicial official may not belong to the Connecticut Criminal Defense Lawyers’ Association. Connecticut Informal Opinion 2017-7. 

 

Throwback Thursday

20 years ago this month:

  • The Arkansas Judicial Discipline & Disability Commission publicly admonished a judge for unreasonable delay in deciding 2 cases and failing to file required quarterly reports. Letter to Choate (Arkansas Judicial Discipline & Disability Commission September 19, 1997).
  • The Arkansas Judicial Discipline & Disability Commission publicly admonished a judge for calling the victim, the police officer, and the prosecuting attorney on behalf of a defendant who was involved in building the judge’s house and then presiding over the arraignment. Letter to Davis (Arkansas Judicial Discipline & Disability Commission September 19, 1997).
  • The Arkansas Judicial Discipline & Disability Commission publicly admonished a judge for voluntarily appearing as a character witness. Letter to Adams (Arkansas Judicial Discipline & Disability Commission September 19, 1997).
  • The Arkansas Judicial Discipline & Disability Commission publicly admonished a judge for calling the police after witnessing an individual run a stop sign, locating the driver with the police officer, directing the officer to issue a ticket for reckless driving, telling the individual that his driver’s license was suspended and he would be put in jail and not released until the court date if he was caught driving, and later presiding at the trial, convicting the individual, and fining him $100. Letter to Hayes (Arkansas Judicial Discipline & Disability Commission September 19, 1997).
  • Pursuant to the agreement of the judge, the California Commission on Judicial Performance publicly admonished a judge who, in a series of telephone calls to law enforcement agencies, had repeatedly invoked her judicial position to attempt to obtain the release from custody of a personal friend. Inquiry Concerning Austin, Decision and Order of Public Admonishment (California Commission on Judicial Performance September 23, 1997).
  • Pursuant to an agreed statement of facts and joint recommendation, the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly censured a judge who, while a candidate, had mailed a brochure to voters that gave the unmistakable impression that he would favor tenants over landlords in housing matters. In the Matter of Birnbaum, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct September 29, 1997).
  • The New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly censured a judge who (1) had driven his automobile into a tree and pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated; (2) had presided over an ex parte request for a temporary order of protection while under the influence of alcohol; and (3) had confronted 2 sheriffs’ officers and demanded to know why his son, the court officer assigned to his court, had been removed from the courthouse and stated, loudly and angrily, “How can you do this to me? Why are you doing this to me?  After all the support I’ve given you and your department, this is the way your deputies treat me.”  In the Matter of Purple, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct September 29, 1997).

 

Social media and judicial ethics: Part 2 — New issue of the Judicial Conduct Reporter

The summer issue of the Judicial Conduct Reporter is now available to be downloaded.

The issue is Part 2 of a two-part article analyzing the advisory opinions and discipline decisions on social media and judicial ethics.  It covers off-bench conduct: conduct that undermines public confidence in the judiciary, commenting on issues, abusing the prestige of office, providing legal advice, disclosing non-public information, charitable activities, political activities, and campaign conduct.  Part 1, in the spring issue, was a general introduction to the topic and a discussion of issues related to judicial duties:  “friending” attorneys, disqualification and disclosure, ex parte communications and independent investigations, and comments on pending cases.  The 2 parts will be combined in a comprehensive paper that will be posted on the Center’s web-site in late 2017.

The code of judicial conduct’s restrictions on judges’ off-bench activities apply equally on social media as in other contexts.  For example, under the general ethical standards of the code regarding promoting public confidence in the judiciary, judges have been disciplined for sexual misconduct on social media and for posting injudicious, negative, or unfairly critical comments.  Similarly, as anytime a judge is writing or speaking, a judge must avoid social media posts on legal and other topics that might raise reasonable questions about her impartiality.

The prohibition on judges’ practicing law precludes judges from giving legal advice on social media, either in response to a specific question or in a general post that could be construed as legal advice. Judges are prohibited from disclosing non-public information on social media even in a broad, general post.

When using social media, judges must not post anything that could be construed as using the prestige of office to advance their private interests.  For example, that rule may limit a judge’s ability to “like,” review, or recommend lawyers, events, businesses, and movies on social media at least when her judicial identity is disclosed.

Just as judges may be members and officers of, volunteer with, or attend events for most non-profit organizations, they may also “like” or “follow” most civic or charitable organizations on social media as long as the organization is not discriminatory and its goals and activities do not undermine judicial independence, integrity, or impartiality.  A judge may not, however, solicit funds for organizations on social media through, for example, posts that encourage people to attend fund-raising events.  The restrictions on judges’ political activities apply on-line as well as in traditional forums.  For example, to comply with the prohibition on political endorsements, a judge should not “like” the Facebook page of a political organization or candidate.

Social media is an approved communications and fund-raising tool for judicial candidates, but all the rules apply on social media that apply to traditional campaigning.  Therefore, a judicial candidate should delegate at least the fund-raising aspects of a social media page to his campaign committee or staff to comply with the prohibition on personal solicitation.   candidate must also review and approve the content of all campaign statements before posting to ensure compliance with the rules limiting campaign speech.

You can sign up here to receive notice when a new issue is available.  All past issues of the Reporter are also available on-line as free downloads; there is an subject index of Reporter articles here.

Throwback Thursdays

25 years ago this month:

  • The New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a judge who drove while impaired by alcohol, tried to prevent his arrest because he was a judge, and threatened that the arresting office would “regret this” and should “watch out.” In the Matter of Winkworth, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct September 23, 1992).
  • The New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly censured a judge who made anti-Arab statements to a defendant’s lawyer in an off-the-record conference in a robing room. In the Matter of Ain, Determination (New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct September 21, 1992).
  • Pursuant to the stipulation of the judge, the Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly admonished a judge who had stated on the record about a defendant on a traffic charge, “You don’t think Mr. Breckenridge drives around baiting officers do ya, just hoping to get stopped so he can get a little debate going. What it looks like to me.”  In re Clough, Stipulation and Agreement and Order (Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct September 4, 1992).

 

 

Recent cases

  • The Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly reprimanded a judge for indicating that a defendant could be released to a behavioral health treatment provider after conducting an ex parte hearing in which the defendant’s father argued for the release. Hudson, Amended order (Arizona Commission on Judicial Conduct August 22, 2017).
  • The California Commission on Judicial Performance severely censured a judge for (1) during his 2012 campaign, making misrepresentations on his campaign web-site and candidate disclosure form, failing to resign from 3 political action committees, publicly opposing President Barack Obama’s re-election, omitting expenses from his campaign disclosure form, and using a personal bank account and credit card for campaign expenses; (2) after being sworn in as a judge, remaining as counsel of record in a federal action for approximately 6 weeks and issuing 4 checks from his law office account; (3) improper courtroom decorum, poor demeanor, bias, and/or a lack of impartiality in the courtroom, including drawing attention to an attorney’s ethnicity and accent and questioning her citizenship, using nicknames to address attorneys, commenting on the physical appearance of attorneys, disclosing intimate personal facts, using crude language, and speaking Spanish; (4) improperly responding to a “blanket” challenge from the city attorney’s office by telling deputy public defenders and public defender interns to “watch out;” (5) telling an African-American court employee who had participated in a Halloween costume contest that she should not say she “didn’t win due to racism” or words to that effect; (6) stating during a proceeding, “I had a Filipino teacher who always used to ask for a shit of paper;” (7) improperly soliciting the legal opinion of attorneys in cases in which they did not represent a party; (8) giving a small claims plaintiff the choice of dismissing his case and filing it as a civil case or having the judge decide based on evidence that the judge said was insufficient; and (9) repeatedly interjecting his personal experience during a small claims case. Inquiry Concerning Kreep, Decision and order (California Commission on Judicial Performance August 7, 2017).
  • Accepting the recommendation of the Commission on Judicial Performance, the Mississippi Supreme Court suspended a judge for 120 days without pay, fined him $3,000, and publicly reprimanded him for ordering a man to serve 6 months in a work center for a conviction he had already appealed to a higher court and for which he had already had satisfied his sentence. Commission on Judicial Performance v. Sheffield (Mississippi Supreme Court August 17, 2017).
  • The Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline suspended a non-lawyer judge without pay for 1 year for (1) sealing her then son-in-law’s criminal records relating to his arrest for domestic battery of her daughter; (2) improperly ordering staff to conduct an illegal criminal records search of her friend’s boyfriend; (3) sentencing an unrepresented individual to 8 months in jail in violation of due process; (4) referring to men as “sperm donors;” (5) improperly running a juvenile diversion program; and (6) issuing orders regarding titles for abandoned vehicles in small claims cases. In the Matter of Haviland, Findings of fact, conclusions of law, and imposition of discipline (Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline August 29, 2017).
  • With the judge’s consent and conditioned on his agreement that the letter be public, the Pennsylvania Judicial Conduct Board issued a letter of counsel to a judge for being involved in a “support relationship” with the district attorney during his second divorce without disclosing the relationship when she and attorneys from her office appeared in his court. Letter to Grine (Pennsylvania Judicial Conduct Board August 20, 2017).
  • Denying in part and granting in part the judge’s petition for review of a decision of the 6th Circuit Judicial Council, the Judicial Conduct and Disability Committee of the U.S. Judicial Conference publicly reprimanded a judge for ordering a magistrate to show cause why he had not met the deadline for filing a report and recommendation in a social security case and for refusing to cooperate with the special investigating committee’s request that he undergo a mental health examination. In re Adams, Memorandum of Decision (U.S. Judicial Conference Judicial Conduct and Disability Committee of August 14, 2017).

 

 

Without more

Denying a petition for a writ of prohibition, the Florida 3rd District Court of Appeal recently held that a trial court judge’s Facebook “friendship” with a lawyer representing someone involved in litigation did not require the judge’s disqualification from the case.  Law Offices of Herssein and Herssein v. United Services Automobile Association (Florida 3rd District Court of Appeal August 23, 2017).

The plaintiff, a law firm, sued a former corporate client for breach of contract and fraud, accused one of the defendant’s executives of witness tampering, and indicated that the executive was a potential witness and potential defendant.  An ex-circuit court judge was hired to represent the executive.  The plaintiff filed a motion to disqualify the trial judge because the ex-judge was listed as a “friend” on the trial judge’s personal Facebook page.  The test for determining the legal sufficiency of a motion for disqualification in Florida is whether “the facts alleged (which must be taken as true) would prompt a reasonably prudent person to fear that he could not get a fair and impartial trial.”

The 3rd District relied on a decision by the Florida 5th District Court of Appeal holding that requiring disqualification in cases involving Facebook friends “does not reflect the true nature of a Facebook friendship and casts a large net in an effort to catch a minnow.”  Chace v. Loisel, 170 So. 3d 802 (Florida 5th District Court of Appeal 2014).  Describing the word “friend” on Facebook as a “term of art,” the 5th District explained that a Facebook friend “could more aptly” be described as an “acquaintance and, sometimes, virtual stranger.”  The court noted that requiring disqualification in cases involving an acquaintance “is unworkable and unnecessary,” “[p]articularly in smaller counties, where everyone in the legal community knows each other, . . .”  (However, in the case before it, the 5th District held that a judge who sent a Facebook friend request to the wife in a dissolution of marriage case had engaged in an ex parte communication and was required to recuse herself.)

The 3rd District agreed that a “Facebook friendship does not necessarily signify the existence of a close relationship,” noting “some people have thousands of Facebook ‘friends,’” “Facebook members often cannot recall every person they have accepted as ‘friends’ or who have accepted them as ‘friends,’” and “many Facebook ‘friends’ are selected based upon Facebook’s datamining technology rather than personal interactions.”  The 3rd District explained:

To be sure, some of a member’s Facebook “friends” are undoubtedly friends in the classic sense of person for whom the member feels particular affection and loyalty.  The point is, however, many are not.  A random name drawn from a list of Facebook “friends” probably belongs to casual friend; an acquaintance; an old classmate; a person with whom the member shares a common hobby; a “friend of a friend;” or even a local celebrity like a coach.  An assumption that all Facebook “friends” rise to the level of a close relationship that warrants disqualification simply does not reflect the current nature of this type of electronic social networking.

The 3rd District “respectfully acknowledge[d]” its “conflict with the opinion of our sister court” in Domville v. State, 103 So. 3d 184 (Florida 4th District Court of Appeal 2012).  In Domville, the 4th  District Court of Appeal had held that recusal was required when a judge was a Facebook “friend” with the prosecutor based on a judicial ethics opinion that advised that judges were prohibited from being “friends” on Facebook with lawyers who appear before them.   Florida Advisory Opinion 2009-20.

“In fairness to the Fourth District’s decision in Domville and the Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee’s 2009 opinion,” the 3rd District stated, “electronic social media is evolving at an exponential rate.  Acceptance as a Facebook ‘friend’ may well once have given the impression of close friendship and affiliation.  Currently, however, the degree of intimacy among Facebook ‘friends’ varies greatly.”  The 3rd District held that, “[b]ecause a ‘friend’ on a social networking website is not necessarily a friend in the traditional sense of the word, . . . the mere fact that a judge is a Facebook ‘friend’ with a lawyer for a potential party or witness, without more, does not provide a basis for a well-grounded fear that the judge cannot be impartial or that the judge is under the influence of the Facebook ‘friend.’”  The court did not discuss whether there was something “more” than the “mere” Facebook friendship that might require the judge’s disqualification in that case.

The decisions from the 3rd and 5th District Courts of Appeal in Florida are consistent with other state appellate caselaw holding that a social media connection does not require a judge’s disqualification, although only the Florida cases involve relationships with attorneys.  See State v. Forguson, 2014 WL 631246 (Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals 2014) (a trial judge is not disqualified despite his status as “Facebook friend” with the state’s confidential informant who was a witness at trial); State v. Madden, 2014 WL 931031 (Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals 2014) (a judge’s Facebook friendship with one of the witnesses did not require his disqualification from a criminal case); Youkers v. State, 400 S.W.3d 200 (5th District Texas Court of Appeals 2013) (a trial judge did not lack impartiality based on a Facebook friendship and communications with the father of the defendant’s girlfriend).  So far, no state supreme court has had to decide the issue.

In July, rejecting a challenge to a settlement, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit also rejected the defendants’ argument that the district court judge should have recused himself because of an appearance of bias created by activity on his alleged Twitter account.  U.S. v. Sierra Pacific Industries, 862 F.3d 1157 (U.S 9th Circuit 2017).  The civil action by the U.S. was brought in the Eastern District of California against private forestry operators and individuals to recover damages to 2 national forests caused by a fire.

The court made no findings about whether the judge actually controlled the Twitter account at issue, which was an undeveloped issue in the district court.  (According to the blog “Above the Law,” the Twitter account, “@nostalgist1,” was controlled by Judge William Shubb who was presiding in the case.  The account was public at the time of the relevant tweets, but “[a]fter the government sent Judge Shubb a letter informing him that his Twitter usage was being raised on appeal, Judge Shubb changed his account from ‘public’ to ‘protected,’ meaning that only approved followers can see his tweets.”)

The Twitter account allegedly controlled by the judge followed the Twitter account of the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California.  The day that the district judge denied the defendants’ motion for relief from the settlement, the U.S. Attorney posted 8 tweets about the case on its Twitter account.  That evening, the judge’s alleged Twitter account tweeted a link to “an allegedly erroneous news article” about his decision.  (It was allegedly erroneous because the settlement did not provide that the defendants were “liable” and the title for the article was, “Sierra Pacific still liable for Moonlight Fire damages.”)

The 9th Circuit held that, under the plain error standard, the allegations did not warrant retroactive recusal even if the judge was the owner of the account.  The Court rejected the defendants’ argument that the judge’s “following” of the U.S. Attorney’s office Twitter account created an appearance of bias.  Noting “news organizations, celebrities, and even high-up government officials use Twitter as an official means of communication, with the message intended for wide audiences,” the Court held that, “[w]ithout more, the fact that an account holder ‘follows’ another Twitter user does not evidence a personal relationship and certainly not one that, without more, would require recusal.”

The Court also rejected the defendants’ arguments that disqualification was required because the U.S. Attorney’s tweets about the case were an improper ex parte communication and the judge’s tweet linking to the newspaper article was an inappropriate public comment.  The Court concluded that the U.S. Attorney’s tweets were not ex parte communications because they were not “specifically directed” to the judge, but were “released to the general public, intended for wide distribution to an anonymous public audience.”  Finally, the Court held that a single tweet consisting “only of the title and link to a publicly available news article about the case in a local newspaper, without any further commentary” was not a public comment on the merits of the matter and did not require recusal.

Although concluding that retroactive recusal was not warranted, the 9th Circuit noted that the “case is a cautionary tale about the possible pitfalls of judges engaging in social media activity relating to pending cases” and reiterated “the importance of maintaining the appearance of propriety both on and off the bench.”

As discussed in the spring issue of the Judicial Conduct Reporter, judicial ethics committees also advise that disqualification is not necessarily required when an attorney with whom a judge has an on-line connection appears in a case, but that that connection is one factor a judge should consider in deciding whether her impartiality might reasonably be questioned.  For example, the Arizona committee stated that there is no “per se disqualification requirement in cases where a litigant or lawyer is a ‘friend’ or has a similar status with a judge through social or electronic networks” but that there may be “facts and circumstances” related to the social media relationship that might disqualify the judge.  Arizona Advisory Opinion 2014-1.  See also Maryland Opinion Request 2012-7; Missouri Advisory Opinion 186 (2015); New Mexico Advisory Opinion Concerning Social Media (2016); New York Advisory Opinion 2013-39; Ohio Advisory Opinion 2010-7; Utah Informal Advisory Opinion 2012-1.

Even the Massachusetts committee, which has advised judges not to “friend” attorneys who may appear before them, stated that disqualification may not be required if “[d]espite a judge’s best efforts, . . . unexpectedly, a lawyer whom the judge knows to be a Facebook friend appears before the judge.”  Massachusetts Letter Opinion 2016-1.  But see California Judges’ Association Advisory Opinion 66 (2010) (if a judge approved a connection to a lawyer on a social media site because he believed it was highly unlikely the attorney would ever appear before him, the judge should disqualify himself if that lawyer does appear).  Cf., In the Matter Concerning Ferguson, Public admonishment (California Commission on Judicial Performance May 31, 2017) (public admonishment of judge who was Facebook friends with attorneys who were appearing regularly before him without disclosing the relationship, in addition to other misconduct).

Because disqualification is not automatically required, a judge must consider whether an on-line connection — alone or in combination with other factors — raises a reasonable question about the judge’s impartiality whenever a person with whom a judge has a social media connection appears in a case.  The relevant factors for making that determination include:

  • The frequency of the judge’s social media contacts and communications with the individual;
  • The substance of the judge’s social media contacts and communications with the individual;
  • The scope of the social media friendship;
  • The nature of the social networking page (for example, whether it is more personal or professional);
  • The number of “friends” the judge has on the page;
  • The judge’s practice in deciding whom to “friend” (in other words, whether the judge is very exclusive or more inclusive when deciding whom to add);
  • Whether the social media connection was established before the case came before the judge; and
  • Whether the judge and the friend have frequent, personal contacts in real life, not just on-line.

(Some of those factors identified by California Judges’ Association Advisory Opinion 66 (2010) as relevant to the determination whether a judge should friend an attorney and seem just as pertinent to the question of disqualification.)

Thus, if the judge’s social media page primarily has posts about personal activities, his connections are mainly family and personal friends, the judge is very selective when adding to his “friend” list, the judge and the attorney comment on each other’s posts, and the judge and the “friend” and their families socialize in real life, the judge’s impartiality is more likely to be reasonably questioned and disqualification is more likely to be required when that “friend” appears in a case.  In contrast, if the page is focused more on court business and professional activities, the judge has more “friends” on the page, those friends are primarily professional acquaintances, the judge allows anyone to follow the page, and the judge and the “friend” only interact in court or at bar meetings, the judge’s impartiality is not likely to be questioned, and disqualification is not likely to be required.