Lorne Sossin & Meredith Bacal, “Judicial Ethics in a Digital Age”

Working Abstract

The rise of social media will provide an unprecedented level of access by the public into the lives of judges, and by judges into the lives of everyone else. Ethical implications of social media include not simply whether judges choose to engage with various new media for connectivity, but also how they respond when they become the subject of interest and scrutiny in those media.

This article is comprised of two parts. In the first part, the authors explore the current ethical guidelines for federally appointed judges in Canada and how these may be adapted to the realities of social-media connectivity. The authors highlight the gaps in the current ethical framework when applied in digital contexts. This analysis is complemented by a review of how peer jurisdictions are addressing judicial ethics in the digital sphere. In the second section, the authors suggest opportunities for reform to judicial ethics principles in these contexts. As part of this process, judges need to engage in a principled dialogue about the ethical implications of social media.

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