One of the unique features of Washington's 2010 judicial elections will be the role of social media in helping candidates get out their message. Three state Supreme Court justices are up for reelection – Madsen, Sanders, and Jim Johnson – and already candidates are employing social media in ways never before used in Washington Supreme Court elections. Justice Jim Johnson announced his reelection bid on his Facebook page and attracted dozens of fans within a few hours. Justice Sanders also has a Facebook page which announces campaign events. Attorney Charlie Wiggins, who is challenging Sanders, is on both Facebook and Twitter.
Last November the Washington Ethics Advisory Committee issued an opinion that stated judicial blogging is permitted under the Code of Judicial Conduct, provided the judge can do so in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary. Presumably the same guidance would apply to newer forms of social marketing as well.
This trend is not unique to Washington. Attorney and blogger Don Cruse (@doncruse) covers the state Supreme Court in Texas, where voters just completed a primary for open Supreme Court seats. Don created a feed of the Twitter accounts of each candidate -- a fascinating stream-of-consciousness resource for voters.
LexBlog CEO Kevin O’Keefe is the Aristotle of legal bloggers – he spends his time wandering around the country training lawyers how to blog. (Read, for example, his blog post “Focus on the possibilities of blogging and social media, not the challenges.”) The legal profession is embracing the potential of social media, so it's logical that the judiciary would eventually follow.
Judicial candidates are no longer speaking through intermediaries like campaign literature or editorial boards. They’re appealing directly to the members of the public who will vote for them. What impact will social media have in these races? Is this a good development?
What do you think?