Fall 2017


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New Media & the Courts Resources


Now accepting Bitcoin...

According to a Nebraska ethics advisory opinion, lawyers may accept payment in digital currencies like Bitcoin, but “must immediately convert the money into U.S. dollars.” The opinion, issued September 11, 2017, is the first by a state ethics committee to address the ethics of bitcoin payments. “Eastern Nebraska is a rapidly growing hub for payment processing and financial technology,” states Nebraska lawyer Matt McKeever. “Bitcoin ATMs are already in use in the area, and the currency is being used on a daily basis,” he says. 

DC Courts launches new, improved website
Leah Gurowitz, Director of Media & Public Relations, DC Courts

This fall, the DC Courts launched a new, completely restructured website, designed to be user-friendly and making information much easier to find.  The website was produced with the public in mind, with a ‘How Do I?’ section on the homepage and a robust search function.  In addition, the website includes an array of information and resources for self-represented litigants and the homepage has a drop-down menu that allows those for whom English is a second language to have pages translated into six other languages.  Following in the steps of the DC Court of Appeals, the DC Superior Court upgraded its online case search feature; the Superior Court’s eAccess is on the new website and includes some document images, as well as allowing date of birth searches.  The website’s media page includes scrolling news headlines and a collage of the Courts’ recent Instagram photos. 

Look who's new on Twitter

The Supreme Court of Georgia (@SupremeCourtGeorgia) has joined Twitter. The state’s highest court is using the network to inform the public about “newly published opinions and summaries, press releases, summaries of cases coming up for oral argument, and other news.” The Public Information Office is maintaining the account.

Social media ethics lessons

Judges and lawyers are becoming more prominent on social media. But when it comes to posting content, they have to be cautious. A Law.com article, "Watch Your Mouth, Your Honor: Lessons for Judges on Social Media," cites several cases in which judges perfomed big social media no-nos, such as sharing their political views on gay rights and abortion and their stance on Confederate flags or statues. The article also provides useful resources for judges to follow. "Knowing how to draw the line can be tricky. Legal groups are stepping up to offer new guidance for judges wondering how best to use social media, including reports," like the National Center for State Courts' publication, The Judicial Conduct Reporter.

Real friends vs. Facebook friends

Does a Miami judge have to recuse herself because an attorney involved in her court is a Facebook friend? According to a Florida appeals court, the answer is no. In the 10-page unanimous opinion, Third District Court of Appeal Judge Thomas Logue stated, "Acceptance as a Facebook 'friend' may well once have given the impression of close friendship and affiliation. Currently, however, the degree of intimacy among Facebook 'friends' varies greatly," New York University law professor, Stephen Gillers, an expert in legal ethics, said. "The word 'friend' has many meanings. Recusal is justified only when friendship is so close that the public would reasonably question whether the judge would be able to rule against the lawyer."

Lawyers just want to have fun

Leave it to lawyers to have some "pun." In a recent hashtag war, #LawyerASong, lawyers tweeted out lyrics to a popular song but with just a few legal language changes. Here are some of our favorites: 

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