Judge reprimanded for 'liking' attorney Facebook pages - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Judge reprimanded for 'liking' attorney Facebook pages

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A Kentucky judge has been reprimanded for “liking” the Facebook pages of lawyers and a candidate for judicial office -- a move likened to a public endorsement.

The reprimand, handed down earlier this month by the Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission, was “private,” meaning the judge involved was not named.

The ruling raises ethical questions about the real-world impact of terminology -- "likes" and "follows," for instance -- that users of Facebook, Twitter and other popular social media may rarely contemplate.

The reprimand says the judge “liked” the Facebook pages of some lawyers and a judicial candidate and posted “offensive comments” about an attorney who practiced in front of the judge. Judges are prohibited from publicly endorsing a candidate for public office, which the judge violated in his Facebook action, according to the Dec. 5 order.

By "liking" attorneys' pages, the judge violated the Kentucky Code of Judicial Conduct prohibition against “conveying the impression that others are in a special position to influence the judge,” the order says.

And the judge writing negatively about an attorney “cast reasonable doubt on the judge's capacity to act impartially,” according to the reprimand.

The judge explained that the Facebook "likes" were inadvertent because of the judge's “lack of familiarity” with the social network.

The judge also said, according to the reprimand, that the comments about the lawyer were “immediately regretted and removed” and he or she would recuse from any cases involving that attorney.

The commission wrote that “all judges must be sensitive that when they participate on social media, they violate the Code of Judicial Conduct if their actions are inappropriate for judges.”

The commission also noted that the judge had fully cooperated in the investigation and had no prior infractions.

Earlier this year, in July, Dana Cohen, who was running for Jefferson District Court judge, was  reprimanded, in part, for “liking” a Facebook post that publicly endorsed a candidate.

You can read the full reprimand here

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