MANILA – The Supreme Court (SC) has reminded judges and court personnel to be “cautious and circumspect” in their use of social media.
In a circular issued Thursday, Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez said “[a]s the visible personification of law and justice, judges and court employees have a higher standard of conduct.”
“It has been observed that some judges and court personnel have been taking active part in social networking sites by sharing personal photographs and updates, and posting their views and comments on certain issues and current events,” read the circular.
“While judges and court personnel are not prohibited from engaging in social media, they are reminded that when they do, ‘they do not thereby shed off their status as members of the judiciary,’” Marquez’s circular read, citing the words of the high court in an administrative case in 2014.
While it may be acceptable for the general public to be “sharing” and “liking” posts and posting photographs and commentaries, Marquez said the same may not be considered true for members of the judiciary “due to the higher standard of integrity, candor and fairness reposed on them.”
“[I]n communicating and socializing through social networks, judges must bear in mind that what they communicate — regardless of whether it is a personal matter or part of his or her judicial duties — creates and contributes to the people’s opinion not just of the judge but of the entire judiciary of which he or she is a part,” the circular pointed out.
“This is especially true when the posts the judge makes are viewable not only by his or her family and close friends, but by acquaintances and the general public,” it read.
It cited that Section 6, Canon 4 of the New Code of Judicial Conduct provides that judges and court personnel “shall always conduct themselves in a manner as to preserve the dignity of the judicial office and the impartiality and independence of the judiciary.”
The circular explained that “public confidence in the judiciary [may be] eroded by [the] irresponsible or improper conduct” of any of its members.