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North Carolina judge reprimanded for Facebook ex parte communications

March 24, 2010

Yes, you read that correctly. Remember my post about how to use Facebook practically and effectively for your possible pecuniary gain?  This post is about what not to do with Facebook.

A judge in North Carolina was publicly reprimanded by the state’s Judicial Standards Commission for having ex parte communications with an attorney via Facebook.  In case you have an extra .5 today, here’s the reprimand.

Here’s how it all went down. The judge was presiding over a child custody case when the topic of Facebook came up in chambers.  Plaintiff’s counsel stated she didn’t know what Facebook was, and she didn’t have time for it anyway. Defense counsel stated he did indeed have Facebook, so they friended each other. (It is unclear who friended whom first)

After they became friends, the judge and defense counsel exchanged a series of status updates regarding the case.

It gets weirder.  The judge then googled the Plaintiff and found she had a website featuring her photography and original poetry. The judge liked the poems and found they were in the Plaintiff’s favor as they showed Plaintiff “was not as bitter as he first thought.” He even made minor revisions to one poem and read it in court.

Needless to say, Plaintiff’s counsel filed a Motion in the Cause requesting: the Judge’s Order be vacated, a new trial, and the Judge’s disqualification.

Um…yeah…so in case you were thinking of friending any of the judges on your cases and having ex parte communications with them about a case before them…don’t.

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