April 2015


Follow Us on Twitter

New Media & the Courts Resources


​​Judge criticizes parents during court ruling
By Cynthia Gray from NCSC's Center for Judicial Ethics

During a sentencing hearing, Jefferson County Kentucky Circuit Judge Olu Stevens told prosecutors he was deeply offended by a victim impact statement in which the parents of a girl, who was three when two armed men robbed them at gun point in their home, wrote that their daughter was "in constant fear of black men."  Later, the judge posted comments about the case on his Facebook page.  "Do three-year-olds form such generalized, stereotyped and racist opinions of others?  I think not.  Perhaps the mother had attributed her own views to her child as a manner of sanitizing them. ... Had the perpetrator been white, I doubt it would have resulted in such gross generalizations.  The race of a perpetrator of a crime is not a reason or an excuse to fear an entire race of people.  We must stand against it in whatever form."  Friends and family of the victim created a Facebook page urging that Judge Stevens be removed from office.  According to an interview published in the Louisville Courier-Journal, the judge believes he did nothing improper in court or on Facebook. In addition to other information services, the Center for Judicial Ethics keeps tracks of advisory opinions, discipline cases, and other information about judicial ethics and social media and on its weekly blog.

Wife gets the ok to file divorce papers on Facebook
Earlier this month, a New York judge declared that a Brooklyn woman can serve her husband a summons for divorce over Facebook. Ellanora Arthur Baidoo has been trying to divorce her husband for several years, but has not been able to because authorities cannot find him. Victor Sena Blood-Dzraku, the husband, doesn’t have a steady job or a stable address. Justice Matthew Cooper said the “advent and ascendency of social media are the next frontier as forums through which a summons can be delivered.” 

Former gun store owner refuses to turn over social media passwords

After losing ownership of his gun shop in a bankruptcy case, Jeremey Alcade ignored a judge’s order to hand over the company’s passwords for Twitter and Facebook accounts to the new owner. “Legal experts say it is uncharted legal territory for a judge to classify social media accounts as company assets during a bankruptcy.” Alcade will not give up the passwords claiming it is an issue of free speech, but the new owner claims Alcade's previous, often political, posts are promotional, and he wants to keep them. 

Turkish court blocks Twitter and YouTube after graphic photos leaked online

A Turkish court recently blocked access to Twitter and YouTube in a backlash over the sharing of images from a hostage siege in Istanbul. The images show gunmen holding a gun to the head of Turkish prosecutor Mehmet Selim Kiraz. Earlier this month, users had difficulty accessing Twitter and YouTube. The sites were replaced with text saying “an administrative measure” had been implemented by Turkey’s telecommunications regulator.  The court decision was based on the fact that Turkish authorities requested that Twitter and YouTube remove the images, but they refused. According to Bloomberg.com, “Turkey has passed several laws to strengthen control over the Internet since December 2013, after hundreds of tape recordings allegedly showing political corruption were posted on social media.” 

Social media tip of the month

We welcome suggestions for future content and feedback on current issues.
Please e-mail Deirdre Roesch.