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Texas Admonishes Judge For Posting Facebook Updates About Her Trials 95

An anonymous reader writes: Michelle Slaughter, a Galveston County judge, says she will appeal a public admonition from state officials that criticized her Facebook posts about cases brought before her court. From the article: "The State Commission on Judicial Conduct ordered Michelle Slaughter, a Galveston County judge, to enroll in a four-hour class on the 'proper and ethical use of social media by judges.' The panel concluded that the judge's posts cast 'reasonable doubt' on her impartiality. At the beginning of a high-profile trial last year in which a father was accused of keeping his nine-year-old son in a six-foot by eight-foot wooden box, the judge instructed jurors not to discuss the case against defendant David Wieseckel with anyone. 'Again, this is by any means of communication. So no texting, e-mailing, talking person to person or on the phone or on Facebook. Any of that is absolutely forbidden,' the judge told jurors. But Slaughter didn't take her own advice, leading to her removal from the case and a mistrial. The defendant eventually was acquitted of unlawful-restraint-of-a-child charges."
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Texas Admonishes Judge For Posting Facebook Updates About Her Trials

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  • by TJ_Phazerhacki ( 520002 ) on Monday April 27, 2015 @05:37PM (#49564335) Journal
    When it comes to Texans and Judges, they both think the rules apply to somebody else.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Its about time that someone of "important" was held to the same standards as the "rest of us".

      Now if we could have consistency (both in accountability and sentacing). Here in my area one guy was sentanced to 20 years for pick a bar fight (aggravated assault with some kind of intent) while the same court sentanced a DWI in which someone was killed in a HIT and RUN to 5 years with optional probation at 3 years.

      Justice is still blind but she is starting to realize that not everyone else is.

    • When it comes to Politicians of all kinds including Judges and Law Enforcement, they both think the rules apply to somebody else.

      Had to fix that for you. You could not have possibly missed out on Baltimore, NYC, Ferguson, California, etc.. etc...

      • Or executives, or pirates, or anyone with a "clever" idea...

        Pretty much, it's the natural state of humans to believe themselves to be better than everyone else.

    • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

      Texas Lawmakers Want To Defy Supreme Court On Same-Sex Marriage []

      On the one hand,” Dan Quinn, a spokesman for progressive advocacy group Texas Freedom Network, said, “to run around and say we are sovereign and somehow don’t have to obey a Supreme Court ruling is the quintessential example of a temper tantrum. Some of the lawmakers, including the representative who introduced this bill, just refuse to accept what’s happening. This seems to be a way to stomping their feet and saying we

  • by Alsee ( 515537 ) on Monday April 27, 2015 @05:51PM (#49564423) Homepage

    Michelle Slaughter
    Earl Gallows
    Trigger Winchester
    Otis Hangem
    Billy Bob Guilty


  • by enigma32 ( 128601 ) on Monday April 27, 2015 @06:18PM (#49564623)

    Is anyone else curious how the guy fit his [presumably 3-dimensional] son into a two-dimensional (6'x8') "box"?

    • by dave562 ( 969951 )

      Well played sir

    • The actual box was 8'x6'x7'.
      Presumably 8'x6' is the floor size.

      • by jedidiah ( 1196 )


        Back in the old neighborhood, some of the bedrooms were SMALLER than that...

        • ppppfffft!

          Back in the old neighborhood, some of the bedrooms were SMALLER than that...

          Eh, you were lucky to have a room! We used to have to live in t' corridor!

        • by unrtst ( 777550 )

          I was, somewhat sadly, more interested in that story than the judge one... how is putting a child into a 8'x6'x7' plywood box (aka. a room) a bad thing? I'm guessing there was other awful attributes left out for some reason, which would be just about as bad if the child was placed anywhere else (ex. resting on a 4"x2'x1/8" strip of rubber - aka a swing).

          • by Cederic ( 9623 )

            Or indeed was the 'box' the child's self-built toy fort, and the whole case complex nonsense that should never have reached court.

            Can't tell without research, and I'm too lazy.

    • by TWX ( 665546 )
      Baby Smasher? []
    • Is anyone else curious how the guy fit his [presumably 3-dimensional] son into a two-dimensional (6'x8') "box"?

      There's no mystery, he is obviously a Time Lord. As to the "box," it is more of a galactic trivia question than a mystery. Since it has to fold in an extra dimension a normal TARDIS won't do, it is in fact a RETARDIS.

    • I think you'll find that this answers your question: []

  • by BitZtream ( 692029 ) on Monday April 27, 2015 @06:29PM (#49564695)

    The summary (didn't bother to read the article) doesn't understand the point of not letting jurors talk about the trial to others. Its not so they don't give out trial details to the public, its so the public doesn't give them things from outside the court.

    The judge ISN'T BOUND by that and is in fact REQUIRED BY LAW to hear things first (when requested by attorneys) to verify if its even okay for the jury to hear it. The judge posting on Facebook is not a problem for the trial itself, its just unprofessional, trials are public you know, unless deemed otherwise by the judge.

    Telling the jurors not to talk to others about the case doesn't make it a private case, its just normal to not have the jurors getting data from other places.

    The mistrial was for entirely different reasons if anyone bothered to know anything about the actual trial.

    • by TWX ( 665546 )
      I was under the impression that until the trial was completed, the judge was supposed to remain impartial to the course of justice and to refraining from coming to judgement about the defendant. Additionally, if the judge is the person that is supposed to convey information and instructions to the jury, and if members of the jury found the judge's posts on the Internet, could that, for legal purposes, be considered the judge addressing this information to those jurors? The jurors are supposed to avoid fin
    • by mwehle ( 2491950 )
      You sir/madam, are altogether far too reasonable to be engaging in Slashdot dialog.
    • Don't post online about current work-related stuff is probably good advice for all of us to take.

      TFA was a bit sketchy on details, but it did seem to indicate her Facebooking had something to do with the mistrial, and eventual acquittal... whether or not this is factually accurate,

      it's probably safe to say this was poor judgement on her part.

    • It's partially that, it's partially that jurors are not supposed make up their mind till the end of the trial and talking to others tend to make you form opinions.

      A judge is expected to be more disciplined when receiving evidence. For example, in a bench trial a judge will hear all evidence including inadmissible evidence. After all it's not inadmissible until the judge rules it so. The judge is then supposed to be able to ignore the inadmissible evidence when reaching his decision.

      You are also wrong abou

    • Articles from last year suggest that the Facebook posting was exactly what led to it. After the defense attorney saw the post by the judge, he motioned for recusal and mistrial. Slaughter was removed from the case, and soon after, the new judge declared a mistrial. []

      The accused was found not guilty, and looking at the details of the case, it's not hard to see why. The child was (and probably still is) severely disturbed, allegedly killing small animals, making threats again

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Jurors are not even supposed to talk among themselves about a case (until deliberation I guess).

      I served on a jury in an auto theft case. The judge told us not to talk to anyone about the case. During break another juror asked me if the judge meant even among ourselves. I said I wasn't really sure. After all wouldn't we be discussing it in just a couple of days? We did NOT discuss the case though.

      At the end of the 2nd day as we were leaving the courthouse one juror made a comment that he thought the d

  • The title of this story would have been better as Ars writes a poor researched story to bash Texas judge.

    hell the writer couldn't be bothered to find out the judge's first name or or the name of the fathe in the 'boy in the box' case.

    The remarks she made online were basically innoucous, and the judges she was sanctioned on were all probably from Austin.

    • This is why bloggers aren't taken seriously in the journalism world.

      The problem is that they are still taken seriously by the masses.

  • Selfie taken while at the bench, duck-faced, straining to turn around to catch both the defense & prosecution in the background with the caption, "About to sentence the schmuck to death! #selfie #yolo"

Logic is a pretty flower that smells bad.