The State Commission on Judicial Conduct ordered Michelle Slaughter, a Galveston County judge, to enroll in a four-hour class on the “proper and ethical use of social media by judges.” The panel concluded that the judge’s posts cast “reasonable doubt” on her impartiality.
At the beginning of a high-profile trial last year in which a father was accused of keeping his nine-year-old son in a six-foot by eight-foot wooden box, the judge instructed jurors not to discuss the case against defendant David Wieseckel with “anyone.”
“Again, this is by any means of communication. So no texting, e-mailing, talking person to person or on the phone or on Facebook. Any of that is absolutely forbidden,” the judge told jurors.
But Slaughter didn’t take her own advice, leading to her removal from the case and a mistrial. The defendant eventual was acquitted of unlawful-restraint-of-a-child charges.
The judge told local media Friday that her Facebook posts about the “Boy in the Box” case and others were unbiased.
“I will always conduct my proceedings in a fair and impartial way. The Commission’s opinion appears to unduly restrict transparency and openness in government and in our judiciary,” she told the Houston Chronicle. “Everything I posted was publicly available information.”