Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Judge Reprimanded For Facebook Chats

My good friend from Canada Jeremy weites;

"So the status and condition and the custody of children in the application of law is reduced to this? And all the judge gets is a reprimand? And the lawyer? What happened to him? Still practicing? And what happened to the plaintiff and his custody issues in the new trial? No mention of that? Should we even bother to ask? Did he get justice? Did his children?

How many of YOUR cases were discussed this way and in other backroom communications? And even backroom "deals" perhaps? I know my case was 'decided' in this way. Think your judge doesn't know the lawyers before him/her? Think again.

Judge Reprimanded For Facebook Chats
Judge, Lawyer Discuss Case On Web Site
POSTED: 4:07 pm EDT June 1, 2009

IREDELL COUNTY, N.C. -- Judge B. Carlton Terry Jr. received a public reprimand from the Judicial Standards Commission for communicating with a lawyer of a trial he was presiding over.

The reprimand was issued in March. At issue was an Iredell County child custody and support case that took place in September 2008.

While meeting with the two lawyers in his chambers on Sept. 10, Judge Terry spoke with defense lawyer Charles A. Schieck about Facebook, a popular social networking Web site, the reprimand said. The two would later become "friends" on Facebook, which allows them to view each other's Facebook page and communicate with each other there.

According to the reprimand the next day, Terry, Schieck and the plaintiff's lawyer Jessie Conley, were reviewing evidence of an affair by one of the parties in the case. Terry stated that he believed the allegations about the affair were true, to which Schieck replied "I will have to see if I can prove a negative," the reprimand said.

That night Terry checked Schieck's Facebook page, where the lawyer had posted "how do I prove a negative," the reprimand said. Terry replied on Schieck's Facebook page that he had "two good parents to choose from" and "terry feels that he will be back in court," which according to the reprimand meant that the case was not being settled. Schieck replied, "I have a wise Judge."

Terry told Conley about the conversation on Facebook the next day, the reprimand said.

That night Terry wrote on Facebook that "he was in his last day of trial," which Schieck responded to with "I hope I'm in my last day of trial," and Terry wrote again "you are in your last day of trial," the reprimand said.

Terry also used Google to access a Web site of the plaintiff's photography business, the reprimand said. On Sept. 12, when the case reconvened, Terry recited a poem that he found on the plaintiff's Web site, with minor changes. Terry told the commission that he quoted the poem because it gave "hope for the kids and the plaintiff was not as bitter as he first thought."

According to the reprimand, Terry never disclosed to either counsel that he had conducted independent research on the plaintiff or visit their Web site.

Conley filed a motion on Oct. 2, 2008 asking for Terry's order to be vacated, a new trial, and the judge's disqualification from the case.

Terry disqualified himself Oct. 14, and the request for a new trial was entered on Oct. 22.

The reprimand concluded that Terry's actions showed "evidence of disregard of the principles of conduct embodied in the North Carolina Code of Jucicial Conduct, including failure to personally observe appropriate standards of conduct to ensure that the integrity and independence of the judiciary shall be preserved."

Terry accepted the terms in the reprimand and agreed that he will not repeat such conduct in the future, that he will read the Code of Judicial Conduct. He also agreed not to retaliate against anyone associated with the commission.

No comments: