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Judges Can't "Friend" Lawyers in Florida 138

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the lawyers-don't-have-friends-anyway dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "The NY Times reports that Florida's Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee has found in a recent opinion that judges and lawyers can no longer be Facebook friends. The committee says that when judges 'friend' lawyers who may appear before them, it creates the appearance of a conflict of interest, since it 'reasonably conveys to others the impression that these lawyer "friends" are in a special position to influence the judge.' Stephen Gillers, a legal ethics expert at New York University, says the Florida rule goes too far. 'In my view, they are being hypersensitive because in the case of a truly close friendship between a judge and a lawyer involved in a case, the other side can simply seek to disqualify the judge. Judges do not "drop out of society when they become judges," Gillers says. "The people who were their friends before they went on the bench remained their friends, and many of them were lawyers." Still, legal sycophants can take heart: lawyers can declare themselves Facebook "fans" of judges, the committee says, "as long as the judge or committee controlling the site cannot accept or reject the lawyer's listing of himself or herself on the site."'"
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Judges Can't "Friend" Lawyers in Florida

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  • by CecilPL (1258010) on Friday December 11, 2009 @04:54PM (#30407470)

    I do call my friends. At least the ones that I hang out with regularly. However, it's just not possible to maintain friendships with the hundreds of people I've met over the years - though I would still like to stay in touch. Traditionally these were the people who you'd get a Christmas card from with a quick update on what they've been up to once a year. Facebook allows you to stay in closer contact without having to devote hours a day to calling everyone you know.

    For example, I was going skiing a couple weeks ago. I noticed on facebook that one of my elementary school friends was going to the same mountain the same day. I suggested we meet there for lunch - we did and spent an hour catching up.

    That's the benefit of facebook.

  • by macragge (413964) on Friday December 11, 2009 @04:57PM (#30407514)

    I recently had the privilege of serving as a juror in a DUI trial. I was quite pleased to discover that the Judge appeared unbiased, if not slightly more lenient towards the defense.

    Also, the defense attorney poked so many holes in the prosecutor's argument: that the jury only had to deliberate for about ten minutes. I was absolutely shocked to learn that he was a public defender.

    On top of that, the defendant was a black male from the city while the jury was entirely white suburbanites.

    Going into the trail, I expected that the system was going to screw the defendant, but the Judge showed no bias, the Public Defender was competent, and the Jury presumed the defendant to be innocent. Now I feel like the media is full of shit.

  • by Chirs (87576) on Friday December 11, 2009 @05:03PM (#30407576)

    How exactly do you know which judge you'll get before the trial starts? Or do you hire another lawyer once you find out who the judge is?

  • by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Friday December 11, 2009 @06:00PM (#30408146) Journal

    I see a huge conflict of interest. If they are both "Friends" of the judge whats to say they all aren't "Friends".

    Prosecution: "Hey I'm kind of on a hot streak right now and I could be moving up if I get a good record this year"

    Defense: "Alright, I'll let you have it, but he's really innocent and didn't do alot of harm"

    Judge: "Okay, minimal sentence it is!"

  • Re:It's common sense (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Cowpat (788193) on Friday December 11, 2009 @06:18PM (#30408334) Journal

    and judges can manipulate the jury to get the verdict that they want. Juries are meant to use the interpretation of the law fed to them by the judge (and few of them realise that they can ignore it; even less would even know where to begin to figure it out for themselves). We saw it in one of those RIAA cases - the judge gave the jury instructions which had no foundation in law, and the jury promptly brought in an insane verdict. Now, in that case, the judge was probably just incompetent, and the jury's decision was chucked because the instructions were so badly wrong. A malicious judge, who is trying to deliberately stitch someone up for their buddy the prosecutor, could be much more subtle and get away with it.

    The paraphrase Yes Minister:

    BW: "Guidelines are perfectly proper minister, everyone has guidelines for their work"
    JH: "I thought these planning inspectors were supposed to be impartial"
    BW: "Well, so they are minister. Trains are impartial too, but if you lay the tracks in one direction, that's the way they go"

I am here by the will of the people and I won't leave until I get my raincoat back. - a slogan of the anarchists in Richard Kadrey's "Metrophage"