by Keia Evans
I have been working at the AOC for a few months now as their part-time “reporter on the ground” which has allowed me to see so many of you holding events of all sorts in service to your community. I have attended events such as Fulton County’s Adoption Day in November 2019; traveled to Thomson Elementary School to cover the Bill of Rights Day event hosted by Judge Britt Hammond; and have recorded/reported on multiple accountability court graduations.
Just as the events above are a service to your community, I see social media as a service to your community, too, and I have been impressed with the amount of engagement that I see on social media by Georgia judges. Judge Dillard’s articles urge judges to “tweet, like, and share” and he argues that a judge’s role extends beyond the courtroom. Judge Dillard writes that judges are public servants who have an opportunity, maybe even a responsibility, to engage with the public. Judge Dillard and others have some tips which I am summarizing just in case this is helpful to you: (1) maintaining separate social media accounts for personal and professional use is important, (2) both accounts must comply with all professional and ethical regulations governing judges and both should maintain an image commensurate with being a judge, (3) judges should avoid “liking” or “following” businesses to avoid abusing the prestige of a judicial position for economic gain, (4) judges have to be careful with their phrasing so as not to compromise their ability to be impartial and fair-minded, and (5) do not discuss pending cases or give opinions on legal questions over social media.
Basically, the same rules apply as when a judge stands in front of a room full of people to make a speech or to give a talk. While judges have to be careful about their posts, the upside is that you can reach a larger number of people than during a talk or a speech, you will reach a younger crowd, and you can use that platform to educate citizens about civics, how government works, and the judicial branch. I have learned so much about the judicial branch recently and I have learned how dedicated so many of you are to the citizens you serve. Those are good stories to tell and social media makes it easy to do so. There are numerous positive sides to social media and it is all at the access of your fingertips. Write to me if I can be of assistance to you!