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The Judge on Facebook


Paul van den Hoven

Utrecht University, NL
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In many social realms, social media are employed by institutions to establish direct relations between ‘key agents’ and their clients or customers. In this article I explain why as yet the civil law judge cannot be expected to start using social networking sites to advance the transparency of the judicial decision-making process in a relatively open, form-free interaction with his or her ‘clients’. This explanation is grounded on the hybrid character of social networking sites. On the one hand, these sites are direct, interactive, informal, and personalized media; but on the other, they are public and basically permanent. Their direct, interactive, informal and personalized character is highly compatible with the multimodal, network-embedded, form-free self-representation of the modern judge in the courtroom. However, their public and permanent character manifests in the second performance of a judge, being held publicly and permanently accountable for what is decided. This performance is characterized by a unimodal, ‘punctualized’, formal self-representation. Referring to the work of legal sociologists as well as discourse scholars, it is underlined how much this public judicial self-representation is part of a persistent ritual that renders it incompatible with direct, interactive, informal and personalized communication. The hybrid character of social media does not allow judges to utilize them to act as key-agents: to open up the ‘backstage area’ to reveal the actual dynamics of the decision-making process, and to transparently connect the judicial performance in the courtroom session with the second performance when issuing a decision.


How to Cite: van den Hoven, P., 2015. The Judge on Facebook. International Journal for Court Administration, 7(1), pp.18–26. DOI:
Published on 15 Jul 2015.
Peer Reviewed


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