An appellate court has removed a judge from a case after it was revealed she sent a Facebook friend request to a woman appearing in her court for a divorce proceeding.
Oh Florida. You are just the gift that keeps on giving. (Texas thanks you for making us look rational. Sometimes.)
The dispute centers around a circuit court judge who presided over a divorce proceeding. Before entering a final judgment, Judge Linda D. Schoonover sent the wife a Facebook "friend" request that the woman didn't accept, according to court documents. In a complaint, the lawyer for the wife accused the judge of then retaliating against her by allegedly saddling her with "most of the marital debt" and giving the husband "a disproportionately excessive alimony award."
This comes at a particularly bad time for Judge Bad Decisions because last year the American Bar Association cautioned judges specifically about how they should use social media. The ABA warned that sitting judges need to think long and carefully about who they follow on Twitter or like on Facebook. Also they might want to think about shutting down their "SEXY JUDGE DANCE TIME" MySpace pages. You know. Just in case.
Even after that stern warning last year, this judge was all "Nah, it's cool. I'm good. Lemme Facebook stalk this lady that just showed up in my courtroom! We're going to be besties; I can totes feel it!" Oh boy.
But things didn't go so well after that. See, the friend request was never accepted. Oh the horror. We all know that feeling. "OMG, has she accepted my friend request yet? I can't wait to start liking pictures of her baby and all those canned peaches she's always talking about...UGH NO "FRIEND REQUEST ACCEPTED" NOTIFICATION UGH I HATE MY LIFE."
The unrequited friend request "placed the litigant between the proverbial rock and a hard place: either engage in improper ex parte communications with the judge presiding over the case or risk offending the judge by not accepting the 'friend' request," the appeals court wrote in its Jan. 24 decision.
The appellate court concluded the wife had a "well-founded fear of not receiving a fair and impartial trial." Yeah, you think?
We're going to file this under "things you should probably know not to do if you actually made it all the way through law school and had a successful enough career to become an actual judge." Yeah, that's a long category, but we're sticklers for proper filing around here.
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