This blog has long urged greater engagement with the political sphere to expand access to justice. So it is good news that the New York City Council has established a Committee on Courts and Legal Services. To quote the press release:
“Every New Yorker is entitled to equal justice under the law, and the Committee on Courts and Legal Services and the City Council will work with community partners and city agencies to identify ways to meet that fundamental goal,” said Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “Under the leadership of Chair Rory Lancman, the Committee will examine the demand for legal services and the resources and support needed for the courts to serve our city with integrity. Now more than ever, this is an important step forward and I look forward to commencing hearings in the weeks ahead.”
I hope that the title does not mean that this is going to be just a process for getting more money for community based legal aid, but rather a broader look at access to justice initiatives and the relationship of various levels of government to access.
The reference to the “support needed for the courts to serve or city with integrity” is encouraging. It will be interesting to see the scope of the hearings.
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There is in fact an answer to providing fair access to all courts to all litigants without representation, and all while simultaneously decreasing the growing burdens on the existing judicial system. The answer requires that the emerging technologies be married to the existing judicial system.
The current problem is that there is no means for all self-represented litigants to litigate without a background knowledge of the law. Further, there cannot be a form for every conceivable situation. And even if there were, there can be no form that can anticipate the inclusion of all proper and necessary words, again without background knowledge of the law; although the form clearly helps define what is needed vs what is not in question, thus streamlining the matter for the already overburdened court whose looking for those crucial key facts to determine the issue quickly.
The answer is technology. More specifically, software that will collect “facts” in all transnational matters about any one individual person, as opposed to having that one person attempt to determine what facts and law are necessary to advance their own position by attempting to reverse engineer their problem in hindsight and without any legal training. The potential is that this software may well resolve disputes before they even occur.
But if not, once the facts are ascertained and electronically compiled, that same software should be able to determine the proper and relevant case and statutory law for whatever problem and State that person resides in. This would almost completely eliminate expensive attorneys. This would also eliminate those lawyers whom are corrupt and acting as middle-men between the victim, and the victim’s access to being made whole again (a.k.a, justice.) If litigation is then also decided electronically, judges would then also be rendered almost completely obsolete.
There are additional reasons why technology can help sort out relevant facts. “When a pro se litigant’s income, assets, healthcare and well-being are on the line, he or she faces formidable emotional barriers to articulating a clear case and proving facts. In the best circumstances it is difficult to keep a clear head and an objective view of the strengths and weaknesses of the case.” (See Lisa Brodoff, Lifting Burdens: Proof, Social Justice, and Public Assistance Administrative Hearings, 30 J. NAT’L ASS’N ADMIN. L. JUDICIARY 601, 625 (2010).) Machines have no such qualms. Justice is blind, but not to relevant facts, just to invidious discrimination.
Google is nice because it’s access to the whole world, but it’s also over-broad. Those looking for answers on Google still need to know what to look for. This requires the foundational knowledge of law to get started, because knowing the problem is half the battle. Artificial Intelligence for each person can become each poor-man’s free “electronic lawyer” that never gets sick, greedy, or incompetent, and if the rules are re-written to usher in a new era of self-automated electronic litigation, a now crumbling near-bankrupted judicial system can be given a new life and brighter future.
I have probable 60 years or so left to live. In my lifetime, it is imperative that I at least help resolve this enigma. I’m virtually certain that if Abraham Lincoln were still alive today, and thus necessarily aware of the current judicial problems and potential creative uses of technology to resolve them, that this would be his own endeavor as well.
After all, if I’m going to be my own poster-child for the aging, I’d like to ensure my wisdom will not have been ultimately wasted or simply unsuccessful. 🙂
Third paragraph is “transactional” (as in transaction) not “transnational”.