The Volokh Conspiracy

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Volokh Conspiracy

Judges Need Not Recuse Themselves Just Because They Are Facebook "Friends" with a Lawyer

So holds the Florida Supreme Court (by a 4-3 vote).


"The establishment of a Facebook 'friendship' does not objectively signal the existence of the affection and esteem involved in a traditional 'friendship.'" Indeed, as the court points out in today's Law Offices of Herssein & Herssein, P.A. v. United Servs. Auto. Ass'n, even traditional "friendship" doesn't always require recusal (though perhaps very close friendship might): Though the court doesn't give these as examples, state and federal Supreme Court Justices are often on close terms with their former clerks, who routinely practice in front of them, and in many small towns all the judges and lawyers may know each other well, especially since judges are usually former local lawyers.

Note, though, that these rules vary from state to state; as the majority points out, its position is the dominant view among those states that have considered it, but other states do require recusal in such situations (as the 3-Justice dissent in the Florida Supreme Court would have). Thanks to Howard Bashman (How Appealing) for the pointer.