Curious to know what judges think of Facebook?

It may not be advisable to stroll up to a jurist and ask her or him; they may get kind of prickly. Instead, on this Change of Venue Friday, flip through a comprehensive new report from the Conference of Court Public Information Officers (or, as I like to call them, some of the hardest-working PIOs in any sector; follow them on Twitter here).

The complete report, titled “2012 CCPIO New Media Survey,” is here, and it paints an evolving picture of judges’ comfort level with social media, at least in regard to the propriety of using it themselves. (Use by lawyers and—ugh—jurors is left for another study.)

Or, as the cheeky Wall Street Journal Law Blog said, judges today appear to be “less freaked out” by Facebook and Twitter.

Reporter Joe Palazzolo writes, “Fewer of them hate the idea of incorporating new media in their professional lives, and more of them are convinced they can use such tools in their personal lives without ethical issues.”

Ha! “Fewer of them hate” it. That may not sound like we should break out the bubbly, but it is quite a change from even a few years ago.

Here is a chart from the CCPIO study showing the shift.

Judges are warming to social media, a new study says in August 2012

And here are a few of the findings from the study:

“The 2012 data reveal several major conclusions:

  • “The participation of judges in the survey continued to climb, as did their use of the technologies surveyed.
  • “The percentage of judges who strongly agree that their own use of the technologies in the survey poses no threat to professional ethics has doubled since the first year of the survey. This applies whether the technologies are used in personal or professional lives.
  • “The percentage of judges who strongly agree that courts as institutions can use the technology without compromising ethics has also doubled since 2010.
  • “The percentage of judges who strongly agree that new media are necessary for public outreach has doubled since 2010.”

Very impressive.

(I am amused, though, that we continue to hold fast to that moniker “New Media.” Ironically, the last time I hectored readers about the oddity of that phrase was when I covered an event put on by court personnel. Is “New Media” a court thing? Let’s all just stop it. After all, social media is descriptive; New Media is kind of a throwback, sort of a Steamboat-Willy-gapes-at-moving-pictures vibe. New Media is old. If judges can change, so can we. Onward.)

Have a great weekend. And as you post a status update in social media, think of a judge.

A week ago today, The Rehnquist Center at the University of Arizona Law School hosted a program on courts and New Media. The full title was Public Understanding of the Courts in the Age of New Media. 

Russell Wheeler, Brookings Institution, and John Davidow,

The panels were packed with judges, policy experts and some journalists. (The full agenda is here.)

(More photos are available on the Arizona Attorney Magazine Facebook page.)

I was able to attend the morning sessions. Here’s who presented:

New Media – Is it Changing the Coverage and Conduct of Trial Court Proceedings?

Anonymous No Longer? The Federal Courts of Appeals and the New Media

The afternoon panels include a lunch keynote by Hon. Sandra Day O’Connor, which I was disappointed to have to miss.

The presentations I saw were quite good. But they also put me in mind of how advanced Arizona already is in terms of some of the topics addressed. For instance, while other jurisdictions wrestle with media in the courtroom and developing media-use policies for jurors, many of our courts have had such policies in place for years.

And can we stop calling it “New Media”? Do we really have to wait until our younger cohorts openly smirk as we ramble on about “logging on” to the World Wide Web, or the “Internets”?

It’s just media, folks, which happens to be new. And not even so new anymore. I mean, when was the last time you marveled about your fax machine, or the scanner at the supermarket? (Apologies to George Bush I).

But as long as I’m on a social media tear, here are some of the tweets (mine and others’, raw and unmediated) from the conference. (the hashtags were #barmedia and #newmediaconf):

#newmediaconf on courts, the public and new media at DT Phoenix J school hosted by @UofAZLaw Rehnquist Ctr

ABA President-elect William Robinson at #newmediaconf – surprised how many in public don’t understand courts

ABA President-elect William Robinson at #newmediaconf – Legal profession needs journalists to collaborate on telling public re courts

San Jose Mercury News rptr @hmintz at @newmediaconf – days of reporters going to court just w/ pen and spiral pad are over

Access to court records good, but risks: child and DV protection, data mining, “outing” plea agreements on “Who’s a Rat” sites #newmediaconf

Trying to figure out the types of people that are at this seminar. Are we lawyers? Journalists? Joe schmoes? #barmedia

“Lost art”: Reporters going to the courthouse and chatting with the clerk @hmintz #barmedia

Important to determine when cameras should be on in courtrooms. Maybe judge can say turn off but must state a reason @JohnDavidow #barmedia

Judges need to impose firm instructions to try to minimize the “Google tendencies” of jurors #barmedia

Judge Virginia Kendall at #barmedia – Instinctively we are Googlers, jurors too. It’s all about instruction and control.

Panel at #barmedia discuss court changes to improve juror understanding (some of which Arizona courts have been doing for decades!)

Fact that info will be “out there” should not alter the principle that court info generally should be public @hmintz #barmedia

Awesome that this panel has adopted the phrase “nutty blogger”, and that everyone understands who they’re talking about. #barmedia

#BarMedia My old friend Ben Holden suggests jurors are routinely ignoring judicial instructions re new media tools. judge on panel disagrees

Audience Q at #barmedia – Use of term “nutty blogger” suggests mainstream media are not nutty.

It’s fascinating in #barmedia session how decline of mainstream media is accepted as a given. The struggles are no secret.

Is it time for national standards on court approach to social media reporting and juror issues, or just leave up to each judge? #barmedia

Ok, it is FREEZING in this seminar room. Do you think they’re trying to be ironic in freezing our fingers off so we can’t tweet? #barmedia

The phrase “judicial discretion” = nightmare for reporters, in regard to cameras in courtroom and many other things @hmintz #barmedia

Public cmt reveals misunderstanding of courts: “You must be tired, riding the circuit & being a night court” (Ninth ! Circuit) #barmedia

At #barmedia @TonyMauro says as written, appellate court rulings are not “a grabber.” “My suggestion: Write them better.”

For years, many judges said court reporting got it wrong. Now, judges bemoan lack of reporters in the courtroom. #barmedia

#barmedia Numerous poignant tributes to Judge John Roll at this conference. He was obviously loved and respected.

Sandra Day O’Connor is speaking to #barmedia conf. She is funny, spunky and practical. Decrying lack of Civics classes. Straight-talker!

#barmedia Judge says tbere are 4 kinds of high profile cases. Celebrity, issues, sensational and political.

“Citizen journalist, citizen brain surgeon, whats the difference?” Pete Williams making fun of the characterization of bloggers #barmedia

Had a wonderful time at a conference today #barmedia. Went old school & took handwritten notes. 🙂