updated 12/8/2010 6:32:54 PM ET 2010-12-08T23:32:54

The Ohio Supreme Court says judges on Facebook can "friend" lawyers appearing before them but must be careful not to violate state ethics rules.

An opinion issued by a court board Wednesday also said judges can't comment to anyone on social networking sites about cases they're handling.

The opinion by the court's Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline also prohibits judges from visiting the social media sites of any witnesses in a case or using those sites to gather information.

The opinion says judges should disqualify themselves from cases if their social media relationship with a lawyer creates bias.

A recent national study found that four of every 10 judges use social media sites like Facebook and LinkedIn, about the same proportion as the general population.

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