MADISON, Wis. (AP) – A state appeals court says a judge’s decision to enter into a Facebook friendship with a woman with a custody case before him amounts to bias.
The 3rd District Court of Appeals said in its ruling Wednesday that the case is the first of its kind in Wisconsin.
According to court documents, Barron County Circuit Judge Michael Bitney accepted a 2017 friend request from Angela Carroll, who had asked him to modify her son’s custody arrangement.
Carroll liked 18 of Bitney’s posts and commented on two of them before he resolved the case in Carroll’s favor. The Facebook relationship was never disclosed during the case.
The appellate court found a reasonable person would question Bitney’s ability to decide the case fairly.
Bitney and Carroll’s attorney didn’t immediately return phone messages.