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Calcutta HC Judge Recuses From Case In Which His Facebook Friend Lawyer Appeared

15 Sep 2019 6:52 AM GMT
Calcutta HC Judge Recuses From Case In Which His Facebook Friend Lawyer Appeared
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Justice Protik Prakash Banerjee recently recused from a case after a party in person urged that if a Judge has a friend on Facebook who is a member of the Bar that is a reason for him to rescue from the case.

If that is the view of the petitioner it will not be proper for me to take up this matter, said Justice Banerjee after releasing the case on personal grounds..

The judge was hearing a writ petition filed by one Kanishk Sinha. Earlier, two judges had released his case on personal grounds.

Florida SC On FB Friendship Between Judge and Lawyer

The matter arose out of a motion moved by a law firm Herrsein & Herssein in a trial proceeding, seeking to disqualify a trial judge from dealing with the matter on the ground that he was a Facebook friend of an attorney who was appearing for a party in the matter. When the motion got dismissed, it was carried to Supreme Court in appeal.

"A Facebook "friend" may or may not be a "friend" in the traditional sense of the word. But Facebook "friendship" is not—as a categorical matter—the functional equivalent of traditional "friendship." The establishment of a Facebook "friendship" does not objectively signal the existence of the affection and esteem involved in a traditional "friendship." Today it is commonly understood that Facebook "friendship" exists on an even broader spectrum than traditional "friendship." Traditional "friendship" varies in degree from greatest intimacy to casual acquaintance; Facebook "friendship" varies in degree from greatest intimacy to "virtual stranger" or "complete stranger": it was held so by majority (4:3). 

Judges Can Be Facebook Friends With Lawyers, Florida SC Rules By 4:3 Majority [Read Judgment]

However, the dissenting opinion expressed concerns that having a lawyer as a Facebook "friend" may undermine confidence in the judge's neutrality. "Equating friendships in the real world with friendships in cyberspace is a false equivalency. The existence of a Facebook "friendship" may reveal far more information regarding the intimacy and the closeness of the relationship than the majority would assign it.", it was observed.

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