“The Legal System and Technology in The 21st Century”
Gregory V. Boulware
Technology has linked its way into just about every facet of human lifestyles. For your edification, this continuing discussion, as well as an addition to previous study formats. In offering this informational passage, the legal system is just one more profession that has been conquered by technology.
We are aware of the court stenographers and PC’s that record and track our legal system, but what about the C.G.A. System? The Computer Generated Animation Presentation can be admitted into our American Court System. Admissible Evidence in criminal trial(s) has been recorded as a precedent case ruled on by the Supreme Court. As reported by Asher Hawkins, of the Legal Intelligencer, differing arguments by six Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justices concluded that a Lackawana Common Pleas Judge properly admitted the use of CGA during a first-degree murder case in 2002. CGA has been portrayed on various television shows such as CSI Investigation(s) and Crime 360.
Justice Sandra Schultz Newman wrote, “Society has become increasingly dependant upon computers in business and our personal lives…” She went on the say, “With each technological advancement, the practice of law becomes more sophisticated and commensurate with the need to shed any techno phobia and become more willing to embrace the advances that have the ability to enhance the efficiency of the legal system.”
Prosecutorial teams, including Forensic Pathologists and Crime Scene Reconstructionists presented a murder case to the jury; the prosecutor’s version…the defendant did not possess and/or have access to this tool. One argument against this procedure in court is of a defendant, a poor person, is able to commission an equivalent production. In other words, would the defense be able to match the expenses associated with the prosecutions presentation to the court? Another justice suggested it would be wiser to exclude CGA evidence if an indigent or poor defendant could not afford the costs of “equivalent production.” The basic cost could be upwards of $20,000.00. Another legal professional commented on whether the cost(s) of CGA was worth the expenditure. The justices also took note on the fact that CGA’s are becoming increasingly less expensive to produce and could be a vital tool in the rapid expedition of court cases. In any case, pre-trial motions that include CGA evidence should be treated with respect. Jury instructions and indigent (lacking food, clothing, and other necessities of life because of poverty; needy; poor; impoverished, destitute) defendants are needed with the court’s permission for the presenting of such evidence.
The judges position was to make certain that Computer Generated Animation was fair and accurate while permitting defendants an opportunity to challenge its foundation. It has also been noted by the justices, to make clear to the jury that it was not meant as a re-enactment or simulation, but merely an expression of opinions formulated by expert witnesses. Another justice stated his position…”I think it’s a valuable tool, but a tool that needs to be used sparingly. I don’t think it’s necessary in every case.” Newman also wrote, “The difference is one of mode, the law does not, and should not; prohibit proficient professional employment of new technology in the court-room. This is, after all, the 21st century.”
Each state has its own court system. There’s also a system of federal courts. Decisions made during adjudication by federal administration agencies may be appealed to a federal court. Similarly, decisions made by state administrative agencies may be appealed to a state court. The definition for adjudication (adjudicate) is to render a judicial decision. In the administrative process, the proceeding in which and administrative law judge hears and decides on issues that arise when an administrative agency charges a person or a firm with violating the law or regulations enforced by the agency. An administrative agency is a state or federal government agency established to perform a specific function. Administrative agencies are authorized by legislative acts to make and enforce rules to administer and enforce the acts.
Typically, a state court system will include several levels, or tiers, of courts – (a) trial courts of limited jurisdiction, (b) trail courts of general jurisdiction, (c) appellate courts, and (d) the states highest court (often referred to as the State Supreme Court). Anyone who is party to a lawsuit has the opportunity, and/or right, to plead his/her case before a trial court and then if he/she loses, before at least one level of appellate court. Furthermore, if a federal statute of federal constitutional issue is involved in the decision of the State Supreme Court, that decision may be further appealed to the United States Supreme Court.
Have you ever wondered, with all the juris prudence (the science or philosophy of law, a body or system of laws, a department of law, Civil Law. decisions of courts, esp. of reviewing tribunals) activities flooding the land, how could the legal system function without technology?
Monica Bay, of Law Technology News, reported of lawyers at small firms, especially solo practioners, have resisted adopting practice/case management (CMS) software – even though there’s no doubt that it can help firms deliver faster, better, and cheaper services to their clients. Several observers suggest that the initial threshold of setting up a management system intimidates firms. A software consultant, Tom O’Connor said, “Everybody loves technology but hates installing it.”
Project Management has not been a topic stressed in many schools, according to an independent IT consultant from Minneapolis. A successful project management is dependent upon a large network of personnel. An effective Electronic Data Discovery (EDD) Project Network includes: clients, partners, legal IT staff, associates, paralegals, inside counsel, service providers, and technical experts. Without a doubt, the use of (PM) Project Management to mitigate risk while delivering consistent, quality results that represents significant benchmark(s) in the maturing process of the EDD environment.
Used in many corporations to increase productivity, quality control programs such as Sigma Six, have been generating interest. Understanding why and where problems occur has a great impact on the decrease in mistakes. The application of these principles and practices on Electronic Data Discovery processes improve a lawyer(s) result(s) with increased quality and decreased costs. Reasons for rising interest in Project Management are recognition in the success depends on effective management.
Mitigating risk and lowering cost by applying “Electronic Discovery Techniques” offered a myriad of considerations, for example, matching time tables, securing outside IT experts, propose and follow “E-Discovery” protocol, engagement of a special master to monitor compliance and resolvement of disputes, use of checklist(s) containing critical steps and reminders for every step in and of a project, working service providers, working with attorneys to find answers to the right questions, as managing vendors require special attention to service level agreements (SLA’a).
Meanwhile, discover these definitions/terms of legal jargon that may help you in your administration, business, everyday life, and tech studies:
Subrogation – any right a creditor has against a debtor now becomes the right of surety. Inclusive are creditor rights in bankruptcy, rights to collateral possession by the creditor, and rights to judgments
secured by the creditor – the surety now stands in the shoes of the creditor against the debtor.
Indemnification – The right to pursue guaranteed reimbursement/payment to a director for legal costs, fees, and/or judgments involved in defending corporations – (clients) related law suits. Simply put the right to compensation for services as directors (representatives/attorneys).
Habeas Corpus – held against your will – against your constitutional right(s), a writ requiring a person to be brought before a judge or court, esp. for investigation of a restraint of the person’s liberty, used as a protection against illegal imprisonment, one of a variety of writs that may be issued to bring a party before a court or judge, having as its function the release of the party from unlawful restraint.
Writ – a legal order, a document of the court.
Tort – personal injury, a civil wrong not arising from a breach of contract…a breach of a legal duty that proximately causes harm or injury to another.
Posterity – the offspring of one progenitor to the furthest generation; descendents; all future generations; succeeding or future generations collectively; Judgment of this age must be left to posterity; all descendants of one person.
HIPPA – The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) was enacted to ensure that personal information stored, accessed or processed adheres to a set of guidelines or “security rules.” These rules outline security measures that should be implemented to adequately secure all electronic protected health information (EPHI). LogRhythm directly meets some HIPAA requirements, reduces the cost of complying with others, and it features out-of-the box HIPAA reporting packages.
SOX – require public companies to create, monitor, and manage controls over many aspects of their financial reporting. Some companies have found that such transparency doesn’t come easily. The rules require not only new processes, but also fresh tools that can determine whether systems and reporting standards are up to snuff. In general, SOX applications can be classified into three main market segments, according to Forrester Research. Those in the enterprise-application space include Oracle and SAP; IBM and Stellent fall under the enterprise-content management (ECM) heading; and OpenPages and Paisley Consulting are considered specialists, competing with Certus, HandySoft, and other pure-play vendors.
Where is it that technology hasn’t reached? Are the courtrooms truly behind in technology? Are they out of the loop as are many “non-techie” or poor people are? The “Great Technical Divide”…go figure!
After all, this is the 21st century.
Til next time…
Asher Hawkins, Legal Staff, The Legal Intelligence
Tom Gelbmann and Monica Bay, LegalTech, LTN – Law Technology News