Q&A: Blog Policy


If anyone has a blog policy they wish to share, we would appreciate it.


Although not policy, here is an excerpt of some pertinent guidelines from Alaska:

Personnel Rule C10.03 provides in pertinent part:

No employee of the Alaska Court System may directly or indirectly:

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▪ Restrict or attempt to restrict after-working hours statements, pronouncements or other activities not otherwise prohibited by law or personnel rule, of any Alaska Court System employee, if the employee does not purport to speak or act in an official capacity. (However, in accordance with Judicial Canon 3A(6), court system employees should abstain from public comment about a pending or impending proceeding in any court. (AS 39.26.010).)

Canon 3B(9) of the Code of Judicial Conduct provides as follows:

A judge shall not, while a proceeding is pending or impending in any court, make any public comment that might reasonably be expected to affect its outcome or impair its fairness, or make any nonpublic comment that might substantially interfere with a fair trial or hearing. The judge shall take reasonable steps to maintain and insure similar abstention on the part of court staff subject to the judge’s direction and control. This Section does not prohibit judges from making public statements in the course of their official duties or from explaining for public information the procedures of the court. This Section does not apply to proceedings in which the judge is a litigant in a personal capacity.

To remain in compliance with these rules, you should observe the following guidelines:

• You may not post comments on your blog about pending or impending cases from a court system computer or during work hours. If you choose to post comments about a pending or impending case from a private computer during non-work hours, you should be certain that the comments cannot reasonably be expected to affect its outcome or impair its fairness. Keep in mind that a case is considered pending until all appeal avenues have been exhausted by the parties.

• You may not disclose any confidential information learned during your employment by the court system. Keep in mind that it is possible for you to disclose confidential information on your blog even if you do not reveal the names of the parties. For example, a person may know that his or her student or neighbor was involved in a CINA proceeding on a certain day. If your blog discusses details of the CINA hearing held on that day, that person would learn information that was confidential by law, even though you did not post the name of the juvenile.

• You may not post comments on your blog that violate the conduct-related policies contained in the court rules, administrative bulletins, personnel rules, or procurement guidelines. An example would be the prohibition on discrimination and harassment contained in Personnel Rule C10.04.

And a Second Response:

The critical question is “Is court employee blogging a unique type of communication medium, employee behavior, or employment situation that calls for a separate policy?” In my view, unless officially sanctioned by the court as part of its operations, blogs, wikis, social networking, group shareware and other new forms of online discourse are individual interactions, not court communications. Existing rules and regulations should suffice to cover individual actions, no matter what the media. For example, blogging on court time falls under the same rules as emailing or cell phone texting on court time.

If you believe employees may need a reminder, a simple addition to the employee rules such as the following may be all that is needed: As a condition of your employment, you agreed to abide by the policies, rules,
and regulations of the court. This also applies to your blogging, as well as other online communications. We suggest you take time to review the section of the [employee handbook] entitled [employee responsibilities].

That said, if a blog is sanctioned by a court, it would be covered by policies, rules and regulations as court websites.

An excellent resource on the subject is the online Your Guide to Corporate Blogging.

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