Tennessee judge is reprimanded for “liking” and “sharing” Facebook posts and articles on divisive social issues

Hello everyone and welcome to this Ethics Alert, which will discuss a recent reprimand of a Tennessee judge for “liking” and “sharing” Facebook posts on divisive social issues.  The case is Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct Complaints No. B19-7753 & B19-7777 (Nov. 15, 2019) and the November 15, 2019 reprimand is here:  https://media.myfoxmemphiscom.cmgdigital.com/document_dev/2019/11/18/lammey%20reprimand%20letter_16841943_ver1.0.pdf

According to the reprimand letter, among other allegations, the judge shared an article on Facebook by a holocaust denier that stated that some people needed to “get the f*** over the Holocaust” as “an interesting read” (although the letter states that he was found not to be a “holocaust denier”).  The judge also “shared” images on Facebook which reflected “a strong position on professional athletes kneeling during the national anthem”; opposed support for Hillary Clinton and the black lives matter movement; expressed a position on “anti-Jihadist sentiment,” and reflected a “bias in favor of then-presidential candidate Donald Trump.”

The reprimand states that the board found no proof that the judge showed “actual bias, prejudice toward any litigant who appeared before him or that he made “anti-Semitic, racist, or anti-immigration” statements; however, it did find that his “likes” and “shares” were “partisan in nature” and, as a result, the judge’s conduct had the “appearance of impropriety,” reflected adversely on his “impartiality and temperament” and could “reasonably be perceived as prejudiced or biased.” (citing judicial canons).

The judge accepted the public reprimand and, as a condition, he agreed to “refrain from making any future comments or disseminate any substantially similar social media posts on any social media platform that may be reasonably be perceived as prejudiced or biased,” make his social media platforms “private”, and complete a judicial ethics program approved by the Board.

Bottom line:  This is another interesting example of a social media presence gone awry.  Although this judge never made any comments regarding the articles that he “shared” or “liked”, he was found to have violated the Tennessee Canons of Judicial Conduct and reprimanded.

Be careful out there.

Disclaimer:  this e-mail is not an advertisement, does not contain any legal advice, and does not create an attorney/client relationship and the comments herein should not be relied upon by anyone who reads it.

Joseph A. Corsmeier, Esquire

Law Office of Joseph A. Corsmeier, P.A.

2999 Alt. 19, Suite A

Palm Harbor, Florida

Office (727) 799-1688

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Please note:  My office has moved and the new office address is 2999 Alt. 19, Palm Harbor, FL 34683.  All other contact information remains the same.

Joseph Corsmeierabout.me/corsmeierethicsblogs

About jcorsmeier

Joseph A. Corsmeier is an “AV” rated attorney practicing in Clearwater, Florida. He concentrates his practice primarily in the areas of defense of attorney disciplinary matters before The Florida Bar, attorney admission matters before the Florida Board of Bar Examiners, and professional license and disciplinary matters before the Boards of the State of Florida. He provides expert analysis and opinion on conflict of interest and other attorney disqualification and legal malpractice issues and he testified as an expert in the Florida courts. He served as an Assistant State Attorney in the Sixth Judicial Circuit from 1986 to 1990 where he prosecuted felonies exclusively from June 1987, and as Bar Counsel for The Florida Bar’s Department of Lawyer Regulation from 1990 to 1998. He also practices in the areas of estate planning and Medicaid qualification, workers’ compensation, and labor law. Mr. Corsmeier is the author of numerous articles for various bar publications, has spoken at numerous local and statewide seminars on various topics, including ethics and professionalism, and was an instructor of legal ethics for paralegals at Rollins College until the Tampa campus closed. He received his undergraduate degree from Florida State University and his J.D. from Mercer University. He is admitted to practice in all Florida Courts, the Supreme Court of the United States, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, and the Middle District of Florida. He is a member of The Florida Bar, American Bar Association, the Association of Professional Responsibility Lawyers, and the Clearwater and St. Petersburg Bar Associations.
This entry was posted in Judge discipline Facebook, Judge discipline likes and shares social media, Judicial Ethics Facebook and LinkedIn, judicial misconduct discipline, Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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