Judicial candidates in the Fifth District were no strangers to social media in this year’s election.
At least a dozen of the 17 candidates seeking election or retention to the Fifth District Appellate Court and the circuit courts in Madison and St. Clair counties used Facebook as an additional tool in their campaigns.
Many of them signed on to the popular social media site to provide information about campaign events, reiterate their messages and share photos. And when the election ended, both winning and losing candidates thanked their supporters via Facebook.
Because judicial candidates have more guidelines to follow than other political candidates thanks to attorney ethics rules and the Code of Judicial Conduct, ethics experts and authors of scholarly papers on social media have urged caution.
For example, Samuel Jones, a professor at The John Marshall Law School, suggests that judicial candidates have someone from their campaign committee manage their Facebook page.
Several of the local candidates, including Madison County Chief Judge Ann Callis, did just that.
Callis previously told The Record that she decided to create a campaign page because social media is so prevalent today and was an inexpensive way to get her message out in her retention bid.
But, because judges’ use of Facebook is relatively new, Callis acknowledged that it could present some challenges. And that is exactly why she said she had someone from her campaign staff manage her campaign page.
Other candidates said they had family members run their pages or were careful in what they chose to share on Facebook. Some candidates deleted their campaign pages after the election.
Along with Callis, Madison County Circuit Judges Barbara Crowder, John Knight and Dave Hylla utilized Facebook in their retention campaigns.
Now-Circuit Judge Kyle Napp had a campaign page, as did her opponent in the November election, Hamel attorney Thomas Burkart.
In addition, Facebook was also part of the campaigns of Fifth District Appellate Court candidates, Judy Cates and St. Clair Circuit Judge Stephen McGlynn, and St. Clair County Circuit Court candidates Zina Cruse, Laninya Cason and Ronald Duebbert.