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Social Networking and Judicial Ethics

2 St. Mary's J. Legal Mal. & Ethics 2 (2012)

28 Pages Posted: 31 Jul 2012 Last revised: 21 Aug 2014

Craig Estlinbaum

130th Judicial District Court; South Texas College of Law

Date Written: July 1, 2012


Social network sites (SNSs) such as Facebook, LinkedIn, 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.

Keywords: ethics, social media, judiciary

Suggested Citation

Estlinbaum, Craig, Social Networking and Judicial Ethics (July 1, 2012). 2 St. Mary's J. Legal Mal. & Ethics 2 (2012). Available at SSRN:

Craig Estlinbaum (Contact Author)

130th Judicial District Court ( email )

1700 7th Street
Bay City, TX 77414
United States

South Texas College of Law ( email )

1303 San Jacinto Street
Houston, TX 77002
United States

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