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The U.S. Supreme Court has taken the highly unusual move of referring a lawyer to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's Disciplinary Board for investigation. The case involves an appeal by Michael Ballard, who was sentenced to death in 2010 for killing his ex-girlfriend and three others, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Ballard's attorney, Marc Bookman, the director of the Atlantic Center for Capital Representation, filed an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court on Ballard's behalf.

Ballard, though, said that he didn't want to appeal to the Supreme Court.

If a judge follows you on Twitter, must he recuse himself from any future cases where you are a party or an attorney? Surely reading tweets doesn't amount to an appearance of bias.

What about a LinkedIn connection? It is, after all, the "professional" social network.

Or what about Facebook? Of all the social networks, it is the most informal. Friendship gives you access to photos, wall postings, and other non-public information. If a judge is Facebook friends with a litigant, or an attorney, does that mandate recusal?

We've discussed the issue before, and have seen it pop up in state cases, but this petition for certiorari, set for consideration on April 25, asks the U.S. Supreme Court to set a nationwide standard for social media and the appearance of impropriety. It's a tall order for a Court that still uses ivory paper instead of email.

Two more days until the Court gets back to work. Friday's conference presents a number of interesting cases, including concealed carry of firearms and remedies for prosecutorial misconduct. Anticipation is building for the conference, where the Court could take on a number of cases that could prove to be landmark decisions.

Here is a roundup of a few interesting issues that could make their way onto the court's docket in the near future:

Presidents have to have blind trusts. According to CNN, nearly every serious presidential candidate, some governors, and a small handful of federal lawmakers have opted for blind trusts as well.

The investment devices serve a necessary purpose: decreasing the possibility of a conflict of interest.

After Justice Samuel Alto again recused himself from landmark cases last week, and after dozens of past recusals, as well as some questionable non-recusals, is it time to start asking about whether blind trusts should be required of judges and justices?

Federal judges have to abide by an ethics-based Code of Conduct. Well, most of 'em, anyway. The Supreme Court, being, well, supreme, sets its own rules.

In his 2011 end-of-year report, Chief Justice John Roberts addressed the rising tide of Supreme Court ethics questions by arguing that the Code of Conduct, which is mandatory for all other federal judges, should not be mandatory for Supreme Court justices, as it does not "adequately answer some of the ethical considerations unique to the Supreme Court."

Prepare to fill in the gaps then Mr. Chief Justice, as Congress is aiming to force the Supreme Court to adopt its own ethical standards, based, in part, on that Code of Conduct, reports Politico.

Is it Ethical to Hire a Line Stander for a Supreme Court Hearing?

If you read this blog regularly, you've probably gathered that we love court hearings. It may be nerdy, but we think they're really interesting.

Real-life courtrooms may not be anything like the legal dramas on TV, but they still provide the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat, and the hurdles of civil procedure. For some Supreme Court observers, however, real agony occurs on the sun-drenched steps of First Street: There's limited space in the courtroom for a Supreme Court hearing, and many won't make it inside.

So what's a court-watcher to do?

Rep. Slaughter Wants a Supreme Court Code of Ethics

When Montana-based District Judge Richard Cebull drew criticism for forwarding a racist joke from his government email account, he asked the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to conduct an investigation to determine if his actions should be considered judicial misconduct.

That's because the judicial misconduct proceedings clearly define how the federal courts can address district and circuit judges' questionable antics. There's no similar guide for Supreme Court shenanigans.

Rep. Louise Slaughter wants to see that change.

Obamacare Lawsuit: Is Justice Elena Kagan Impartial?

Should Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan sit out the Obamacare lawsuit? Judicial Watch Inc. is claiming that she should. According to its May 18, 2011 announcement on its website, the self-proclaimed "conservative, non-partisan educational foundation" had obtained documents, pursuant to a Freedom of Information Act suit, casting doubt on Justice Kagan's impartiality.

Earlier in the year, they filed a claim to compel the DOJ to comply with the FOIA.

Judicial Watch claims that given her alleged involvement in crafting a defense for the legislation in her role as Solicitor General, Justice Kagan's impartiality might become more of an issue as the case proceeds.

Briefly, an overview of the trajectory of the "is Obamacare unconstitutional" legal battle: