Updating an earlier post, from Examiner.com:
People ask – why should Howard Finkelstein be worried about tweets from the bench while he himself is better known for the longstanding “Help Me Howard” series on WSVN 7 News in Miami.
Perception – nothing but perception.
Judges – whether appointed or elected – are unlike public officials in the other two branches of government. They are expected to be impartial and impervious to influence. Every status update on Facebook or tweet on Twitter could be scrutinized for hints of bias or corruption. Moreover, every “friend” or “follower” can be potentially compromising in a future appearance before the court.
That’s why judges approach the question of social media with trepidation.
Americans constantly complain that the courts lack the transparency of the other branches. So why is an on-going Twitter feed from Judge Destry and the Broward County Courthouse being ridiculed and not applauded?
That is a question for “Help Me Howard.”
Read the entire piece here.
The NACDL issued a press release today that it has launched a new resource center:
NACDL is pleased to offer, as a resource for its members and as a service to the public, a collection of individual downloadable documents that summarize for each U.S. state the key doctrines and leading court rulings setting forth constitutional and statutory limits on lengthy imprisonment terms and other extreme (non-capital) sentences. The resource – Excessive Sentencing: NACDL’s Proportionality Litigation Project — is available at www.nacdl.org/excessivesentencing.
NACDL President Steven D. Benjamin said: “The United States now leads the world in incarceration, with more than 2.2 million people behind bars, as a result of overcriminalization and excessive sentencing. NACDL’s Excessive Sentencing Project being launched today is the type of resource for practitioners, judges, policy advocates, and the general public that embodies NACDL’s tireless work to fulfill its mission. The tools provided in this expansive online resource will be deployed to improve America’s criminal justice system and will result in more humane, rational and proportional sentencing of those convicted of a crime.”
It is done in conjunction with Professor Doug Berman of Sentencing Law and Policy.
In a brief story that raises more questions than it answers, the Florida Sun-Sentinel reports:
Broward Circuit Judge Matthew Destry’s recent foray into the Twitter social networking site has ruffled the feathers of Public Defender Howard Finkelstein, who is questioning whether a judge should be tweeting from the bench.
What exactly constitutes “ruffled feathers” here remains unclear, but the phenomenon of judges tweeting and blogging certainly opens broad new possibilities for insight into what’s happening on the bench, as well as lots of opportunities for impropriety. Is Finkelstein just worried about those possibilities, or is there something more to this story?