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Online messages posted by magistrates influence public perception of judiciary

Inquam Photos / Octav Ganea

Judges and prosecutors have to display poise and wisdom when posting online, because their opinions influence society's perception of the judiciary, reads one of the conclusions of a conference to release good practice guidance for magistrates using social media or online platforms. 

"There are three major issues - firstly, judges and prosecutors should refrain from statements that would undermine their professional authority as magistrates; secondly, judges and prosecutors should refrain from statements that impede fair and just judgment; and thirdly, magistrates should be aware of the consequences that their extra-professional activities have on the way they perform their duties. When a judge or prosecutor intends to post messages on a social medium, they must be aware that it influences the perception of the society over the judicial system and, on the other hand, when making such a posting, they must know that no matter how many confidentiality parameters there might be attached to such post it is also a public post," according to project manager Evelina Oprina of the Supreme Council of Magistrates (CSM). 

Chair of the Supreme Court of Justice and Cassation (ICCJ), Nicoleta Tint warned about situations in which some magistrates were perceived by the public opinion as biased or subjected to different external influences as a result of their choice in using online platforms. 

"On the other hand, the same social media are used by fellow magistrates, by institutions in the judicial system for expressing relevant legal opinions, for the legal education of the public, as well as for promoting increased openness of justice to the society and citizens. I think that it should not be denied that most of the magistrate colleagues use the online platforms not in their professional quality, but as private persons, persons who want to be in contact with their close ones, who want to follow topics of interest to themselves or to be informed on topics that do not necessarily concern their professional activity," said Tint.


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