St. Mary's Journal on Legal Malpractice & Ethics

First Page


Date Created



St. Mary's University School of Law


Allison S. Ellis

Last Page



Social network sites (SNSs) such as Facebook, Linkedln, and Twitter have become an increasingly ever-present feature in American life since first appearing in the late 1990s. SNSs now impact virtually all parts of daily life, and the judiciary is not immune to this effect. Recent statistics show that approximately 40% of judges nationwide utilize SNSs for personal, professional, and electoral purposes. Social media, like any public communication form, presents special ethical challenges for judges. In recent years, judicial ethics committees in various states have weighed in on these questions and have not shown any clear consensus. However, it is generally agreed that judges using SNSs must pay particular attention to how that use relates to the judge's particular ethical obligations regarding relationships and communication with others. In general terms, social media participation by judges raises important ethical questions that directly impact how courts are perceived in the emerging media age.