Saturday, November 22, 2008

Indiana Adopts A Rule Restricting Judges From Surfing the Internet

An ex parte communication is a one-sided communication with the judge.
Black’s Law Dictionary defines ex parte as “on one side only; by or for one party; done for in
behalf of or on the application of, one party.” This can be an important issue for both lawyers and non lawyers. Ex parte communications are prohibited in order to preserve the fundamental fairness of the American legal system. Consequently, judges and attorneys are forbidden by the
Indiana Rules of Court from engaging in ex parte communications.

The federal law also prohibits ex parte communication in order to provides due process for participants in the legal system. Due process includes the right to notice of the complaint or criminal charge, the right to be notified of and to be present at a hearing, and the right to confront and cross-examine witnesses. Our system of justice is founded upon the principle that a person has the opportunity to present his own evidence and witnesses in support of his case. This means that judges are to decide the case based solely on the evidence and testimony in the court. With the advent of the internet, the fear is that judges may have been conducting their own independent research. For example, it may not be admissible in a child custody case that one of the parties has been charged with multiple crimes but never convicted. Nevertheless, if the judge uses the internet, she may learn of such charges which otherwise would not be admissible.

A new Judicial Cannon, 2.9 C will go into effect January 1, 2009. It would seem to prohibit Indiana judges from using the internet to learn more about the background on cases. Is this good or bad? Should all states adopt such a rule?

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

I never thought about this before now. Guess this could be real important.

Anonymous said...

I never thought about this before now. Guess this could be real important.

jerry said...

First you are too repetitive. Second, you are not to bright. If the truth is out there on the internet, why should judges not have access to it.

Jerry

Anonymous said...

Neither are you. It is "too."

Ms Calabaza said...

So how do we monitor this? Ask for the judges' computers and check their histories?

Anon and Jerry, not to fear ... I'm not to bright either.

katfish said...

I guess I'm not too bright either...wouldn't anything that is to be ruled inadmissable have to come before the judge before it could be ruled as such.
The computer thing is crazy too....lawyers can't access the internet about a case...ummm...isn't that called an investigation??

legal kid said...

Kids, don't fight. There are a lot of stuff on the internet that are not admissible in court. For example, suppose a litigant asking for child custody has been charged with hate crimes 20 x. but never convicted. That would not be admissible and the lawyers would not bring it up. But if the judge googles that litigant, the judge learns of this information.

That is a bad thing!


Legal Kid

Anonymous said...

judges are humans too...

Anonymous said...

The fact that they are human illustrates the need for rules.

Anonymous said...

Rules are only as good as the enforcement!

Anonymous said...

Seems like a good idea to decide cases on what goes on in the courtroom.