Supreme Court to rule on judge, Facebook friend – Florida Politics (blog)
With potential ramifications in courthouses across the state, the Florida Supreme Court on Monday said it will take up a dispute about whether a judge should be disqualified from a case because she is a Facebook friend with a lawyer.
Justices issued an order saying they will consider an appeal of an August ruling by the 3rd District Court of Appeal that rejected a request to disqualify Miami-Dade County Circuit Judge Beatrice Butchko. The dispute stems from Butchko being a Facebook friend of attorney Israel Reyes, who was hired to represent an insurance-company executive in a case before her.
The Herssein Law Group, which had sued a former client, United Services Automobile Association, for alleged breach of contract and fraud, is seeking the disqualification. In a Supreme Court brief filed in October, the Herssein Law Group said the 3rd District Court of Appeal ruling conflicted with an earlier decision of the 4th District Court of Appeal that said a judge should be disqualified from a criminal case because of being Facebook friends with a prosecutor.
“The Third District Court of Appeal’s opinion, therefore, creates completely different standards for judges in Florida, depending on which district the judge sits in, to determine when and whether they are violating the Florida Code of Judicial Conduct,” the brief said. “This is untenable for both judges and the public perception of the judiciary. The application and interpretation of the Code of Judicial Conduct must be uniform for all judges in the state of Florida.”
Attorneys for the insurance company, however, filed a brief urging the Supreme Court to turn down the case. They argued, in part, that the Herssein case has different circumstances from the earlier case involving a prosecutor.
“Further, petitioners (the Herssein Law Group) are sophisticated litigators