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How Close Are We to Introducing 'Digital Court?'

Lawyer: Bye, honey, I'm off to court.

Spouse: Umm, you're wearing a jacket and tie, but only boxer shorts and no pants or shoes.

Lawyer: True, but no worries. I'm going to Digital Court today!

Videoconference had a great post yesterday on the trend toward "digital lawyering" and the possibility that some day "digital court" will be a reality. Already, the federal courts use a paperless, digital, electronic case filing system, which has numerous practical and cost advantages. Lawyerist notes that state courts, like the two biggest counties in Minnesota, are believed to be moving in the same direction. With depositions now occurring via phone or video conference, are digital motions hearings with attorneys appearing via video conference out of the question? How about an all-out digital trial?

Lawyerist says the idea of digital court is "not all that preposterous" for things like non-dispositive motions that often require only the judge and counsel for both sides to be present. With video conferencing technology improving rapidly, it may not be necessary for the judge and counsel to physically be in the same room. Lawyerist argues that the typical advantages of video conferencing, such as elimination of travel, cost savings for the client and reduced greenhouse emissions, would then come into play for the justice system. In addition, the various video streams of public hearings could be made available to the public for viewing on their own computers.

I say video conference hearings are a no-brainer and should be fairly common within five years. Actual video trials, however, would be a logistical mess in my opinion and are not coming any time soon. What do you think?

Posted by Bruce Carton on March 5, 2010 at 11:32 AM | Permalink | Comments (4)


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