The Florida Supreme Court gave a Facebook question the cold shoulder on Valentine’s Day.
Referring to a Broward Circuit criminal case, the high court issued an order late Thursday declining to hear State of Florida v. Pierre Domville.
The case involved a defendant who sought recusal of a judge because he was a Facebook friend of the prosecutor.
The Fourth District Court of Appeal ordered Circuit Judge Andrew Siegel to drop the case last September. Then on a split decision, the same court in January rejected an attorney general’s office request to rehear the case.
Even though the appeals court maintained its position, it allowed the attorney general one concession by certifying a question of great public importance to the Supreme Court.
"Where the presiding judge in a criminal case has accepted the prosecutor assigned to the case as a Facebook ‘friend,’ would a reasonably prudent person fear that he could not get a fair and impartial trial, so that the defendant’s motion for disqualification should be granted?" the panel asked.
The court cited a 2009 opinion from the state Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee, saying social media "friend" associations convey the impression of a special position of influence with a judge.
Judge Jonathan Gerber dissented, noting the majority just assumed there are disagreements between reasonable people about how judges may participate with a popular social media.
"On the contrary, … common sense suggests that the public, without question, would appear to desire otherwise," he wrote.
The Supreme Court issued a two-paragraph order denying review and heading off a motion for rehearing.