The American Bar Association has issued a formal opinion about whether judges should use social media.

Yes, judges can use Facebook and Twitter, but under certain parameters.

It’s a move South Carolina made almost four years ago and the ABA’s outlook is quite similar to the Palmetto state’s.

The ABA opinion published on Feb. 21 says judges can participate in social media but must do so with caution, following guidelines already outlined in their code of conduct.

South Carolina was one of three states to issue an opinion about it in 2009. The state’s Advisory Committee on Standards of Judicial Conduct outlined similar guidelines to those published by ABA last month. They said judge’s can be members of social networking sites like Facebook, as long as they don’t discuss anything related to the judge’s position as a magistrate.

“A judge should not become isolated from the community in which the judge lives,” stated the opinion. It goes on to say that it allows the community to see how the judge communicates and gives them a better understanding of judges.

Charleston County Associate Chief Magistrate Judge James Gosnell said he uses social media, but is weary about what he posts. He even has decided to delete his Facebook account, he said.

“When I get on my computer, the last thing I do is talk about my office,” he said.

But Gosnell said as long as they follow their code of conduct, judges should be allowed to participate in the world of tweeting and posting pictures to Facebook or Google Plus. “Judges are as human as anyone,” he said.

Reach Natalie Caula at 937-5594 or