Judges Can Be Facebook Friends With attorney, Florida SC held By 4:3 Majority

Judges Can Be Facebook Friends With attorney, Florida Apex Court (SC) held By 4:3 Majority 


Florida,USA, Supreme Court has ruled by 4:3 majority that Facebook friendship between a judge and an attorney appearing before him in a matter is not a sufficient ground for disqualifying him from considering that matter on the ground of likelihood of bias.

 

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The petition filed by a law firm Herrsein & Herssein in a trial proceeding, seeking to disqualify a trial judge from dealing with the matter on the ground that he was a Facebook friend of an attorney who was appearing for a party in any case. 


In Majority  judgment was ruled that mere existence of a Facebook friendship,in and of itself, does not inherently reveal the degree or intensity of the relationship between the Facebook friends. 


The Supreme Court  of Florida, USA ruling settles a split between two Florida appeals courts on the question. The three dissenters argued that a judge having a Facebook friend as an attorney before him could undermine confidence in the neutrality of the courts.

 

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The Majority judgment overruled a decision of subordinate court in Domville vs State, which had held that Facebook friendship with lawyer provided sufficient ground for disqualification.


Court Held that: 


“A Facebook “friend” may or may not be a “friend” in the traditional sense of the word. But Facebook “friendship” is not—as a categorical matter—the functional equivalent of traditional “friendship.” The establishment of a Facebook “friendship” does not objectively signal the existence of the affection and esteem involved in a traditional “friendship.” Today it is commonly understood that Facebook “friendship” exists on an even broader spectrum than traditional “friendship.” Traditional “friendship” varies in degree from greatest intimacy to casual acquaintance; Facebook “friendship” varies in degree from greatest intimacy to “virtual stranger” or “complete stranger”, 


Source: LiveLaw 



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