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11 Info. & Comm. Tech. L. 5 (2002)

handle is hein.journals/infctel11 and id is 1 raw text is: Information & Communication Technology Law,                     Carfax Publishing
Vol. 11, No. 1, 2002
Editorial: Judicial Decision Support Systems
as Tools to Transform Justice?'
CYRUS TATA2
Centre for Sentencing Research and School of Law, Strathclyde University, Glasgow, UK
Background
What can Judicial Decision Support Systems (JDSSs) do for justice? Each of the
five refereed articles in this special issue3 sets out an answer. Although all of the
articles here are contextualised in particular areas of the justice process, they all
share the claim that a JDSS is likely to cause a transformation in the legal justice
process. Taken together, the articles advance the claim that a JDSS is an
instrument or tool, which acts upon and changes legal processes, making judicial
decision making4 more just. The claim is both empirical and normative. These
benefits are said to include the following: improved clarity, logic and consistency
of decision making, greater openness and transparency of decision making, and
greater effectiveness and efficiency in the use and planning of precious re-
sources.
Later in this editorial, we will return to examine the supposition that IT
impacts upon law as a one-way process. I will suggest that this tells barely half
of the story. First, however, how do each of the articles set out the claim that
JDSSs will transform the justice process in a given area? What follows here is not
so much a straightforward summary, but more a commentary about each of the
articles so as to highlight the instrumental notion of JDSSs impacting upon and
changing legal justice.
A commentary on the claims of the articles
In his article Using web-based decision support systems to improve access to justice,
John Zeleznikow sets out the potential benefits of such systems for the support
of the judicial function of administrative decision making, and also the provision
of advice to litigants. As well as outlining a system designed to provide advice
on property distribution following divorce, his article cogently describes recent
work intended to assist Victoria Legal Aid in its determination of legal aid
eligibility, each of which 'improve access to justice'.
Although Zeleznikow's approach to JDSS is both pragmatic and modest in its
immediate goals, he clearly envisages an instrumental role for a JDSS in the
delivery of improved justice. Throughout the article he suggests that JDSSs
produce four benefits: consistency of decision making, transparency of decision
making, increased efficiency, and (through prediction of decisions) avoidance of
ISSN 1360-0834 print/ISSN 1469-8404 online/02/010005-09 D 2002 Taylor & Francis Ltd
DOI: 10.1080/1360083022013352 1

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