Blake P. Kavanagh
Social media, or any media that uses the internet to disseminate information through social interaction, is becoming increasing prevalent within the court system. Social media presents many opportunities to the courts as a new way to connect to the public and collaborate with stakeholders, but some concerns regarding the implications of jurors, judges, and court employees using social media, court security issues, as well as policies governing court social media sites create the need for these issues to be considered and addressed.
Links to related online resources are listed below. Non-digitized publications may
be borrowed from the NCSC Library; call numbers are provided.
This survey report gives the judicial community in the United States its first year-to-year comparison spanning four years of data unraveling how social media and broader changes in the media industry are impacting state and local judges and courts.
The National Center for State Courts partners with the Conference of Court Public Information Officers in this new e-newsletter to follow the impact of new media on the courts.
These tables show the state Administrative Offices of the Courts and High Courts that are using new media:
As of April 24, 2013
As of May 11, 2012
As of December 20, 2011
As of April 22, 2010
This NCSC report offers guidelines and real-world examples to improve the utility of state high court websites for the public and members of the media.
This research project analyzes a number of aspects surrounding the phenomenon of social media and the Superior Court of Arizona in Maricopa County. It contains several recommendations to improve and accentuate the benefits of the court's social media efforts.
Report of the Conference of Court Public Information Officers's New Media Project.
A Report of the New Media Committee of the Conference of Court Public Information Officers.
(2013). This Australian report contains a literature review of existing research and studies that discuss the use of social media by empanelled jurors and the problems associated with said use. It also reviews policies and procedures implemented in other countries to address this problem and it contains specific recommendations to changes in current practices.
This webinar addressed problems of juror use of social media and presented practical solutions. A distinguished panel including the Honorable Gregory E. Mize, the Honorable Dennis M. Sweeney and Professor Caren Myers Morrison discussed issues and responded to participant questions. This webinar and its slides were archived and available at the above link.
This opinion answers the question, "May a judge be a “friend” on a social networking site with a lawyer who appears as counsel in a case before the judge?" Ohio's Board of Commissioners on Grievances & Discipline finds that a judge may be a “friend” on a social networking site with a lawyer who appears as counsel in a case before the judge, but cautions, “As with any other action a judge takes, a judge’s participation on a social networking site must be done carefully in order to comply with the ethical rules in the Code of Judicial Conduct.”
This judicial ethics opinion addresses three questions: 1) May a judge be a member of an online social networking community? 2) May a judge include lawyers who may appear before the judge in the judge’s online social networking? and 3) May a judge include lawyers who have a case pending before the judge in the judge’s online social networking? The answer to questions 1) and 2) is a very qualified yes. The answer to question 3) is no.
This advisory opinion provides guidance on the parameters of Code-appropriate judicial use of Facebook for a judge who is making the transition from private practice to a judgeship with the Trial Court. The opinion concludes, "The Code does not prohibit judges from joining social networking sites, thus you may continue to be a member of Facebook, taking care to conform your activities with the Code. A judge's "friending" attorneys on social networking sites creates the impression that those attorneys are in a special position to influence the judge. Therefore, the Code does not permit you to "friend" any attorney who may appear before you."
This guide provides information to help courts develop policies on the use of social media by judicial employees. The guide also includes sample policy provisions and existing policy examples.
NACM Social Media Policy was adopted by the NACM Board on July 19, 2010. The policy includes information on NACM's social media use and a Social Media Plan.
The Social Media Subcommittee wrote and issued four reports on issues surrounding social media and the courts and presented them to the Judicial Council for action. The reports have been released and detail the actions taken so far on the Subcommittees recommendations and policies.
This document, produced by the Office of the Governor in collaboration with other state agencies, provides guidance for social media use in Washington state. The guidelines apply to state employees or contractors "who create or contribute to social networks, blogs, wikis, or any other kind of social media both on and off the wa.gov domain for work purposes." The guidelines include information and guidance on implementation of social media, acceptable personal and professional use, employment considerations, terms of service, security, and records retention issues.