261 P.3d 1185 (Okla.Jud.Eth. 2011), 2011-3, In re Judicial Ethics Opinion 2011-3

Docket Nº:2011-3.
Citation:261 P.3d 1185, 2011 OK JUD ETH 3
Case Date:July 06, 2011
Court:Oklahoma Judicial Ethics Advisory Panel

Page 1185

261 P.3d 1185 (Okla.Jud.Eth. 2011)

2011 OK JUD ETH 3


No. 2011-3.

Oklahoma Judicial Ethics Advisory Panel.

July 6, 2011

Editorial Note:

The Opinions of the Ethics Advisory Panel are advisory only and can be relied by the Council on Judicial Complaints while recommending discipline of a Judge or a Judicial Candidate and not binding on the Council or Courts in the exercise of their judicial discipline responsibilities.


¶ 1 Questions: 1. May a Judge hold an internet social account, such as Facebook, Twitter, or Linkedin without violating the Code of Judicial Conduct?

¶ 2 2. May a Judge who owns an internet based social media account add court staff, law enforcement officers, social workers, attorneys and others who may appear in his or her court as " friends" on the account?

¶ 3 Answers: Question 1— Yes, with restrictions.

¶ 4 Question 2— No.

¶ 5 Discussion: The explosion in the use of social networking accounts has resulted in inquiries, such as we address in this opinion to Judicial Ethics Advisory Panels in several states, and the use of such accounts resulted in sanctions being imposed for improper use in some instances. We have reviewed opinions from New York, Florida, South Carolina, Kentucky and Ohio and reports of disciplinary

Page 1186

actions in North Carolina and Georgia.

¶ 6 The common theme of the opinions rendered in other states deals with the conflict that may arise between the use of the social network and the duty of the Judge, found in all the Codes of Judicial Conduct, that is the duty of the Judge to maintain the dignity of judicial office at all times, and avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in their professional and personal lives, and to ensure the greatest public confidence in their independence, impartiality, integrity and competence. See Preamble of Oklahoma Code of Judicial Conduct (2), Canon 1, Rule 1, 2, etc. The test for appearance of impropriety is whether the conduct would create in reasonable minds a perception that the Judge violated this code or engaged in other conduct that reflects adversely on the Judge's honesty, impartiality, temperament, or fitness to serve as a Judge. Canon 1, Rule 214(C), " A Judge shall not convey or permit others to convey the impression that any person or organization is in a...

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