On Thursday, February 23, 2023, Judge Mark B. Cohen, a judge in the Court of Common Pleas of the First Judicial District of Philadelphia County was charged before the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Court of Judicial Discipline for improper posts to his personal Facebook page.

The case is entitled “In the matter of  Judge Mark B. Cohen” and was brought by the Judicial Conduct Board of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania with case no. 1 JD 2023.

The charges cited Canon 1, Rule 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, Canon 3, Rule 3.1, 3.7(a), Canon 4, and Rule 4.1(A)(3), 4.1(A)(11) of the Code of Judicial Conduct and Article V, 17(b) of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania which state:

A judge shall comply with the law, including the Code of Judicial Conduct.

A judge shall act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the independence, integrity, and impartiality of the judiciary and shall avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety.

A judge shall not abuse the prestige of the judicial office to advance the personal or economic interests of the judge or others or allow others to do so.

Judges shall regulate their extrajudicial activities to minimize the risk of conflict with their judicial duties and to comply with all provisions of this Canon. However, a judge shall not..(C) participate in activities that would reasonably appear to undermine the judge’s independence, integrity, or impartiality.

Avocational activities. Judges may write, lecture, teach, and speak on non-legal subjects and engage in the arts, sports, and other social and recreational activities, if such avocational activities do not detract from the dignity of their office or interfere with the performance of their judicial duties.

Except as permitted by Rules 4.2, 4.3, and 4.4, a judge or a judicial candidate shall not publicly endorse or publicly oppose a candidate for any public office.

Except as permitted by Rules 4.2, 4.3, and 4.4, a judge or a judicial candidate shall not engage in any political activity on behalf of a political organization or candidate for public office except on behalf of measures to improve the law, the legal the system, or the administration of justice.

Justices and judges shall not engage in any activity prohibited by law and shall not violate any canon of legal or judicial ethics prescribed by the Supreme Court.

The issue is rooted in a report stating that the respondent authored and made improper posts to his personal Facebook page. In summary, Judge Cohen’s Facebook posting consisted of the following: (1) his sympathetic, supportive, or positive views of political figures, living and dead, of the Democratic Party and, generally, of the political “left”; (2) his support for legislation instituted and embraced by the Democratic Party and, generally, the political “left”; (3) his support for policy initiatives or issues embraced by the Democratic Party and, generally, the political “left”; (4) his criticism of political figures of the Republican Party and the political “right”; and (5) his criticism of policy initiatives and legislation instituted and embraced by the Republican Party or the political “right”.

The filing states:

“Judge Cohen’s admitted Facebook postings that the Board found to warrant formal charges are set forth as follows in Paragraphs 9(1) through 9(lxvi) and screenshots of same are attached hereto this Board Complaint as Exhibit A(i)- (lxvi), made a part hereof, and incorporated herein as though set forth in full:

October 29, 2022, 12:28 p.m. – “David DePape, captured Pelosi assailant, continues to gain notoriety as more and more of his extremist posts come to light. It is clear that he is a failed and hateful man capable of many awful things.”

October 28, 2022, 9:16 p.m. – “CNN: David DePape, 42 accused attempted murderer of Paul and Nancy Pelosi, apparently made hateful, bigoted posts against LGBTQ people, Jews, the January 6 Committee, and other right-wing targets. Surprised?” ii. Why am I not”

The filing continues:

“November 19, 2021, 3:22 p.m. “President Joe Biden’s (sic] Build Back Better Bill passed the US House this morning. Chuck Schumer says he wants passage by Christmas.” In response to another poster’s question about whether the bill would actually help many people after the “moderate” Ds and Rs “gut it,” Judge Cohen posted “I think so, but we’ll see.” The other poster remarked, “I guess a little help is still better than zero. Progress in a democracy is so slow,” to which Judge Cohen responded, “Yes it is, unfortunately!”

November 20, 2021, 12:04 a.m. – “Joe Biden turns 79 today. Happy Birthday Mr. President! Enjoy your five days a week of workouts!”

A probable cause was found by the Judicial Conduct Board. Thus, notifying the respondent of the formal charges against him. The respondent has 30 days to answer the complaint.

Judge Cohen’s courtroom is located at 400 John F Kennedy Blvd, Philadelphia, PA 19107, and can be reached at +1 215-686-7000. His info can be found on ballotpedia.org.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.