Judge faces complaint over Facebook friend request

SANFORD, Fla. —A Seminole County judge faces a formal complaint, and a woman has been granted a new divorce trial after the judge tried to contact her on Facebook.

Sandra Chace and Robert Loitel Jr. were in the middle of a divorce trial, when the judge presiding over the case, Judge Linda Schoonover, sent Chace a Facebook "friend" request.

Chace denied the request but said she was then retaliated against. She said the judge offered excessive alimony to her ex-husband.

"It's inappropriate. If judges have any sort of relationship with anyone involved, it has to be disclosed," said WESH 2 legal analyst Alisia Adamson.

Chace recently won an appeals court ruling which said Schoonover put her between the "proverbial rock and a hard place: either engage in improper communications with the judge or risk offending the judge."

According to Chace's attorney, Schoonover has acted inappropriately on Facebook before and was found to be communicating with Lake Mary Commissioner Jo Ann Lucarelli on Facebook while presiding over her divorce case.

"The only thing I can think of why a judge would want to be Facebook friends is to do their own independent investigation, and that, in my opinion, is inappropriate as well. The judge is supposed to decide based on the information that's presented in front of him," said Adamson.

Adamson says Florida's Bar clearly states attorneys and judges should not be friends on social media, and she believes communicating with litigants is no different.

WESH 2 News asked Schoonover for her response, but we were unable to get in touch with her.


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