Wednesday, October 26, 2016

This and That in Court Technology – October, 2016

Microsoft Surface Studio

It was a busy month in court technology. In this post we share news about judicial decision prediction system, a court rejecting e-signed documents, a new online traffic ticket mediation implementation, several Microsoft related technology announcements, and last call for the Australia legal and court technology conference registration.

Judicial Prediction System

Some more work has been done on judicial results, this time from “computer scientist at University College London and the University of Sheffield”. An article in the UK paper “The Telegraph” and similar from the BBC shares that:

“A computer ‘judge’ has been developed which can correctly predict verdicts of the European Court of Human Rights with 79 per cent accuracy.”

This is similar the work to that being done by our friends at Ravel Law.

I think it would be interesting if a judge were to, after writing their decision, check one of these systems to see what they predicted and what they ended up deciding.

US Federal Bankruptcy Judge Rejects DocuSign Signatures

Thanks to Kendall Collins Smith at Thomson Reuters we learned in an article from the Northern California Record that “a Sacramento (California) lawyer has been sanctioned following his failure to use original signature of his clients, but instead using electronic signatures for official documents in a bankruptcy case”.

The article continues:

‘In his decision, Bardwil acknowledged that DocuSign, as well as other software-generated signatures, are generally accepted in commercial dealings. However, the judge stressed that original signatures are still essential in certain cases. In relation to Bains, Bardwil explained that bankruptcy petitions are among the important matters that require original, handwritten signatures.”

“Although DocuSign affixations and other software-generated electronic signatures may have a place in certain commercial and other transactions, they do not have a place as substitutes for wet signatures on a bankruptcy petition, schedules, statements and other documents filed with the court, and they do not comply with this court’s local rule,” wrote Bardwil in his memorandum.”

In the memorandum decision the Judge states:

“UST’s Reply, DN 23, at 5:4-5.  Treating software-generated electronic signatures as original signatures would, as the UST contends, “increase the possibility of confusion and mischief in the signature process (especially where less scrupulous e-filers are involved)” (id. at 5:15-16)”

Readers of the Court Technology Bulletin may remember that we have posted multiple articles regarding the problems with “wet” handwritten signatures.  And we are very confused as to the filing attorney not being able to attest to the authenticity of the DocuSign signatures?  There is a complete audit trail for these document digital signatures that is much more robust than a signature experts educated guess regarding the validity and authenticity of a “wet signature”.  Here is an article regarding autograph fakery as an example of the problems with this approach.

In my opinion, while I understand that this is an issue of local rule, I believe that the court should take this opportunity to review this approach that is not supported by either evidence or practice in today’s world.

Online Traffic Ticket Mediation System is Installed

From the Lansing State Journal we learned that “A new online ticket mediation system that allows a motorist to apply to have a ticket resolved without a court appearance is being offered by 65A District Court” in Clinton County, Michigan.  The article further explains that “(s)omeone who gets a traffic ticket is eligible for the online mediation process if they have not received more than three traffic tickets over a five-year period, and the new violation is minor. All of the police chiefs in the county support the new process.”

The full article can be read here.

Microsoft Surface Studio Announced

The new 28-inch Microsoft Surface Studio (pictured above) was announced on October 26, 2016.  While it is aimed at the artist, I think it would make a terrific judicial E-Bench system.  It is large enough to display two documents side-by-side full size using 13.5 million pixel resolution which is reported to be 63 percent more than a 4K television.

It has built-in Cortana… I am anxiously waiting for the day when the judge can say, “Cortana, next case please”.  And it has a built-in hinge system that allows the screen to lay nearly flat so that it is out of the judges line-of-sight on the bench.

While it isn’t cheap, $2,999 introductory price … isn’t your judge worth it?

For more with video from The Verge website click here.

Law Professor Questions Technology Use in Courtrooms

Legaltech News has published an interesting article titled “6 New Technologies Raising Questions for Courtrooms”.  The article describes a presentation by Professor Gary Marchant at Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law and faculty director of the school’s Center for Law, Science & Innovation at the Wolters Kluwer’s ELM User Conference.

He discussed current and future potential issues with GPS, Internet of Things (IoT), Brain Scans, Genomics, computer Algorithms, and Virtual Reality.  The full article can be read here.

Nigeria Transforming Judiciary Through Effective Strategic Planning

Nigeria National Judicial Institute fellow Akaa Bee Joseph, writing in the Leadership newspaper provides interesting insight into the workings and planning that the Nigerian Judiciary has and is undertaking to address the challenges that they face.  In particular Mr. Joseph writes:

“Over the years, the Nigerian judiciary has been meeting challenges and taking advantage of opportunities while preserving its core values, but the judiciary needs a strategic plan to enable it reach its full potential. A strategic plan is a systematic process of envisioning a desired future, and translating this vision into broadly defined goals or objectives and a sequence of steps to achieve them. In contrast to long-term planning (which begins with the current status and lays down a path to meet estimated future needs), strategic planning begins with the desired –end and works backward to the current status.”

Here notes further progress.

“The judiciary now has Judicial Information Technology Policy (JITPO); a case management system has been deployed at the Supreme Court, while that of the Court of Appeal is being worked on. The NJC signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the judiciaries of Bahamas, Barbados, Eastern Caribbean and Trinidad and Tobago to enable them use the Nigerian Case Management Software.”

The full article is available here.

Microsoft 365 Collaboration Tools Update

We overlooked several announcements in the collaboration capabilities of Microsoft Office 365. After all, it is a cloud based system and therefore we should expect increasing facilitation of group work as well as the security capabilities.  For more see:

Now why should courts be interested in this?  We all understand that many activities such as scheduling, rule making, and even appellate court decision making are collaborative efforts.  There is also possibilities for developing court guided mediation/arbitration capabilities and complex case collaborative systems.  The possibilities are great.

Last Call for Melbourne, Australia Courts Conference

I received this note for the final call for registration for the Law and Courts in an Online World international conference on 8 & 9 November.  The message said that there was limited space available.  The conference website is:

Ed Bott’s Windows 10 Tips

And last, since the vast majority of our readership runs some manner of Microsoft Windows OS, I thought I would share ZDNet’s expert, Ed Bott’s excellent “Tips, tricks and shortcuts: Ed Bott makes Windows 10 work for you” web page.  If you run Windows 10 I guarantee you will learn something.

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