Court says judge’s Facebook friendship created conflict

The Wisconsin Supreme Court chamber

MADISON, Wis. — A divided Wisconsin Supreme Court has ruled that a judge’s decision to become Facebook friends with a woman whose child custody case he was hearing created at least the appearance of bias.

The court on Tuesday upheld a lower court’s order that the case be re-heard by another judge.

The ruling was the first of its kind in Wisconsin and it could test the boundaries of social media use by judges.

It is the latest in a series of examples across the country where a judge’s actions on social media call into question their ability to fairly consider cases before them.