A judge in Texas appears to have handled an ethics dilemma on Facebook in textbook fashion. The judge was presiding over a criminal case involving defendant William Scott Youkers, who was sentenced to eight years in prison for assaulting his girlfriend. Youkers moved for a new trial on the ground that the judge’s Facebook friendship with the girlfriend’s father created both actual and apparent bias. According to Youkers, the judge failed to disclose a private Facebook message he received from the father that – ironically – had sought leniency for Youkers.
This article discusses why the court rejected Youkers' application and how the judge's conduct serves as a great example of how judges - and lawyers - can extricate themselves from thorny ethical dilemmas on social media.
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