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Real Judges Use Social Media

Judge Don R. Willett has more Twitter followers than any other judge, except perhaps Judge Judy. But Willett is a real judge.

In fact, some say Willett is more real because he is on Twitter. Willett is a member of the Texas Supreme Court and a short-lister for the U.S. Supreme Court, but closer to the public because he is on social media.

"Justice Willett's tweets are smart, humorous, and informative; he has quickly established a national reputation on social media as a result of his ability to strike the proper balance between accessibility and appropriate judicial decorum," said Judge Stephen Louis Dillard of the Georgia Court of Appeals.

"Time for Judges to Tweet"

Dillard's comments appear in the spring edition of Judicature, published by the Duke Law Center for Judicial Studies. He says that judges need to embrace social media, not hide from it.

He uses social media to explain how the court works, to mentor new lawyers and law students and to let people know how he is -- at the courthouse and outside it.

"My hope is that the people who follow me on social media will sense this about me -- that I am a joyful public servant," he says. "My goal is for my online personality to be an accurate reflection of who I am in real life."

Dillard acknowledges other judges who successfully use social media, but says Willett -- with 85,000 followers -- is the "most avid judicial tweeter in America," which he likens to being "the tallest munchkin in Oz."

The Twitter President

Until he signs some legislation or an enforceable order with his name on it, Donald Trump may fairly be called the Twitter President because of his well-known preference for the social medium. Fatefully, Twitter almost brought Trump and Willett together.

Willett was on Trump's short-list before Neil Gorsuch was appointed to the nation's highest court. Then some media sleuths rolled back time with this earlier Tweet from Willett:

"We'll rebuild the Death Star. It'll be amazing, believe me. And the rebels will pay for it. -- Darth Trump."

It did not doom Willett's judicial career because there's always a sequel to Star Wars.

But Willett shared some things he learned using social media. He tweeted his top takeaways from 2016:

  • Never tweet
  • Never email
  • Never bunt with 2 strikes

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