Judge’s Facebook “Like” Leads to Ethics Complaint

Many states have addressed the issue of whether a judge may be Facebook friends, or otherwise connect via social-networking site, with lawyers who may appear before them. But, as social media continues to develop, the questions relating to its use continue to evolve. The latest twist in this issue comes out of Kansas.

Judge Jan Satterfield of El Dorado, Kansas, clicked the “like” button on a post by Sheriff Kelly Herzet. The post was a plea to Sheriff Herzet’s friends and followers to “like” Herzet’s campaign fan page, reports the Augusta Gazette.

A former resident, Lee White, who now lives in California but who, apparently, feels very strongly about the ongoings in his former State of residence, filed a complaint with the Kansas Commission of Judicial Qualifications. White says that he filed the complaint because he believes it violates the canons of ethics that prevent a judge from publicly endorsing or opposing another candidate for any public office.” It may not surprise you to learn that White has publicly supported Herzet’s opponent in the Sheriff’s race.

This is yet another iteration of the protected nature of “speech” as it relates to social-networking posts and comments. And, surely, it is not the last.

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