Maryland Judge Quits After Facebook Posts

Md. State Bar Association Social Media Program
December 15, 2022
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December 16, 2022

The Daily Record reported that an Orphans’ Cout judge “quit last week amid disciplinary allegations that he misused ‘the prestige of judicial office’ on his Facebook page by posting a profile photo of himself in his judicial robe and engaging in partisan political discussion, giving legal advice and advertising his private business on the social media site.”  Steve Lash, Orphans’ court judge quits amid Facebook-related ethics charges ( (Dec. 5, 2022).

The judge “a former Charles County Republican Party chair and state Senate candidate, posted comments on his Facebook page in the fall of 2021 endorsing then-President Donald Trump’s tariffs on foreign businesses as a way to support U.S. manufacturing, according to the commission’s charges.”  Id.  He also “liked” a post advertising a political event.  Id.

The Commission on Judicial Disabilities filed public charges.  The judge denied wrongdoing.

The Maryland Judicial Council’s Workgroup on Judicial Social Media Policy issued “Guidelines Concerning the Use of Social Media by Judges and Judicial Appointees of the Maryland Judiciary,” effective November 16, 2016.  The “document provides guidelines for Judges and Judicial Appointees to follow when using social media.”  The Guidelines state that “as more information becomes accessible online, there is an important and growing need for exercising caution.”  They address topics such as political activity, endorsements, safety and security, posts by family and friends, “friend” or “connection” requests, and, use of listservs and blogs, among others.

Further, there are a number of Judicial Ethics Opinions on this and related topics:

  • Maryland Judicial Ethics Comm., Op. 2012-07 (“Judges Must Consider Limitations on Use of Social Networking Sites”);
  • Maryland Judicial Ethics Comm., Op. 2011-31 (“Judge May Not Appear in a [collaborative divorce organization’s] Video Discussing Divorce”);
  • Maryland Judicial Ethics Comm., Op. 2013-14 (“Judge May Not Appear on Talk Shows to Provide Legal Commentary”);
  • Maryland Judicial Ethics Comm., Op. 2017-28 (“Disqualification of Judge when Attorney-Acquaintance Appears Before the Judge as a Party or as Advocate for Clients”);
  • Maryland Judicial Ethics Comm., Op. 2017-37 (“Judge may appear in his/her robe in campaign photographs. Judicial candidate slate may appear in robes in photograph together”);
  • Maryland Judicial Ethics Comm., Op. 2014-30 (participation in “ice bucket challenge”);
  • Maryland Judicial Ethics Comm., Op. 1983-09 (“Judge Not Absolutely Prohibited from Attending Social Function as Guest of Attorney”);
  • Maryland Judiciary Employee Handbook, Section 3 – Standards of Conduct and Performance, §3.8 –Policy on Social Media (Nov. 16, 2016);
  • ABA Formal Op. 462, Judge’s use of Electronic Social Networking Media (2013).

These authorities provide significant guidance.