Blogs

Facebook Friend Not a Reason for Judicial Bias

06.04.13

When the Judge got a Facebook message from a friend the Judge did not read the message and posted a copy in the Court files and told authorities to avoid any bias. The Facebook friend was the father of a woman who asked that the defendant get the maximum penalty for abusing his daughter. But once the Judge realized the inappropriate use of Facebook the Judge did not read the message. The defendant appealed the lengthy jail sentence claiming that the Facebook friendship biased the Judge.

In a case of first impression Justice Mary Murphy of the Texas 5th Court of Appeals wrote in the case of in William Scott Youkers v. State of Texas:

A reasonable person in possession of all of the facts in this case likely would conclude the contact between the judge and the father did not cause the judge to abandon his judicial role of impartiality; besides the evidence that the judge and the father’s acquaintance was limited, any appearance of bias created by the Facebook communications was dismissed quickly by the judge’s handling of the situation.

Since 2009 the Florida Supreme Court has precluded lawyers from being Facebook friends with Judges if they have cases before them, but in Texas (and many other states) lawyers contribute monies to support election of Judges so being Facebook friends probably means less.

Without question Social Media connections between Judges and lawyers will continue to be an important issue and no doubt we will see many more court opinions on this subject.
 

The publications contained in this site do not constitute legal advice. Legal advice can only be given with knowledge of the client's specific facts. By putting these publications on our website we do not intend to create a lawyer-client relationship with the user. Materials may not reflect the most current legal developments, verdicts or settlements. This information should in no way be taken as an indication of future results.

Search Tips:

You may use the wildcard symbol (*) as a root expander.  A search for "anti*" will find not only "anti", but also "anti-trust", "antique", etc.

Entering two terms together in a search field will behave as though an "OR" is being used.  For example, entering "Antique Motorcars" as a Client Name search will find results with either word in the Client Name.

Operators

AND and OR may be used in a search.  Note: they must be capitalized, e.g., "Project AND Finance." 

The + and - sign operators may be used.  The + sign indicates that the term immediately following is required, while the - sign indicates to omit results that contain that term. E.g., "+real -estate" says results must have "real" but not "estate".

To perform an exact phrase search, surround your search phrase with quotation marks.  For example, "Project Finance".

Searches are not case sensitive.

back to top