Technology and the Courts – CTC 2013 – Baltimore Day 3 – Looking Ahead

I had the great honour to join Justice Robert Torres from Guam, Judge Dory Reiling from the Netherlands and Judge Martin Gonzales from Colorado to talk about Bench and Chambers 2023 on the last days of CTC2013 (19 September 2013). The discussion came at the issue from a number of angles. Robert spoke not just about IT but also about developments in neuropsychology and the impact that this may have upon evidence giving. Dory came at the issue from the perspective of technology as a facilitator, and how it can enhance justice and access to justice. Martin considered the issue from the perspective of users of court services in all their many and varied roles. My contribution was speculative based upon the impact of IT upon justice institutions using the properties analysis that I have been developing in earlier posts. My presentation may be found here. The session page may be found here

The other session that I attended was hosted by Jim McMillan of NCSC and was a wrap-up of ideas that had been developed over the Conference. The first point was that technology had to be appropriate to the job that had to be done and had to be within a context of the work required. Importantly, and I have always been an advocate of this, Judges need to get in the forefront of the technological revolution and change must be Judge-led in that it mjust be the Judges who define the tools and the goals of Courts technology use, rather than being told by technocrats to get used to whatever system is imposed.

One idea that was put forward was a development of my suggestion in the E-Discovery session that electronic documents are dynamic. The speaker suggested that they were like Schrodingers Cat in that the document may occupy a different reality depending upon what stage it had reached. Quantum mechanics in the development of a judicial decision was an interesting concept and may  be worth some thought.

One interesting point that was made in the discussion addressed automatic redaction software which may provide an answer to the problems of case reporting where there is sensitive information or parties may not be able to be identified for legal reasons.

It was recognised that perhaps the most immediate issue that needs to be addressed is that of E-Discovery – described as the freight train heading down the track. One of the recognised features is that Courts cannot carry out the E-Discovery process. But is was also recognised, as Daniel Garrie and I emphasised, that the Courts must direct the E-Discovery process by creative use of the conference process, the use of checklists and careful judicial monitoring. Resources are limited, even for clients with deep pockets and, carrying the freight train metaphor forward, the judge must be the train driver.

Jim’s session developed these and a number of other ideas in a good interactive exchange. Valuable and though-provoking.

And so the Conference came to a close. I have never been disappointed with a Courts Technology Conference, and I find there is valuable material to take away, both from a personal and from a teaching perspective. The next CTC is in Minneapolis. DVWP, I will be there.

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