Use of fake profile names didn’t protect Judge.
In what has to be one of the most blatant abuses of “conflict of interest,” a judge has been removed from his position for online trolling. The comments in question were made under fake screen names, but pertained to cases the judge was hearing at the time.
Stay out of the comments section
It’s not bad enough that the comments were deemed to be “abusive” by court officials. In this instance, Judge Jason Dunn-Shaw of Maidstone Chambers in Kent popped into the comments sections – always a dangerous place to be, no matter what you do for a living or how much you’re in the public eye – to target others who engaged in dialogue. As if it wasn’t bad enough that his comments were determined to be unfit for someone of his position, the articles were about the judge’s own cases and therefore his comments and arguments indicated that he had already formed an opinion of the case.
Ignorance is no defence
Further complaints against the judge involved comments he made under his real name on his friends’ Facebook posts. He explained that he thought their posts were private, and that no one else would be able to see or share his remarks.
This certainly isn’t the first time (nor probably the last) when someone’s online behavior landed them in hot water at work. An agency official in West Virginia made news headlines last year for her racist and derogatory remarks about then-First Lady Michelle Obama; her town’s mayor also resigned after making an approving comment on the post. Later, a mayor in Alabama was asked to leave office early following her hateful Facebook comment about losing the election to an African-American opponent, a post in which she used the “n-word” to describe the incoming mayor.
Lack of dignity
For its part, the overseeing body in the judge’s case took issue with the lack of dignity his comments showed, as well as the lack of impartiality. Stateside, any semblance of preconceived presumptions of innocence or guilt would typically be immediate grounds for a mistrial and for the judge on the case to be removed. Dunn-Shaw has appealed his termination and is awaiting that outcome.