39 Judges J. 1 (2000)

handle is hein.journals/judgej39 and id is 1 raw text is: I CARCLU*N

Technology
By Donald B. Jarvis

Years ago a friend, now deceased, remarked that the
greatest changes he perceived in the twentieth century were
the advances in transportation. At the beginning of the cen-
tury, when he was a young boy living on a farm in Illinois,
it was an all-day adventure for the family to saddle-up the
horse and buggy and travel ten miles into town for a
Sunday outing. When he spoke with me he marveled that
the trip could now be made by automobile or airplane in a
fraction of the time. (In fact, he had flown halfway across
the country in the time it used to take to go from the farm
to town.)
As we approach the end of the century and the next mil-
lennium we have assimilated and refined the developments
in transportation. They are no longer novel. The frontier is
now in communications and computers. Cellular tele-
phones allow us to communicate with others from almost
anywhere, including cars and airplanes, and even while
walking down the street. (The fact that they also pose a
safety hazard on the roads, and annoy us when used by
others in theaters and restaurants, is a topic for another
day.) The Internet allows us to communicate instantaneous-
ly with people, businesses, and other entities around the
world, and is a prodigious source of information, most of
which is accurate and useful. Computers enable us to store
and quickly retrieve a vast amount of data. They produce
documents expeditiously, enable us to make calculations
swiftly, and allow us to transmit documents rapidly via tax
and e-mail.
Although technology advances at a breathtaking pace,
human nature changes slowly. It is inevitable that techno-
logical change will affect how lawyers, judges, and the jus-
tice system operate. Therefore, it is important that we make
wise choices. Technology can be used to do good or it can
be used to oppress. In adopting or adapting technology we
must keep in mind that the goal of the justice system, as
stated on the U.S. Supreme Court Building in Washington,
D.C., is equal justice under law.
For instance, discovery is supposed to expedite the dis-
position of the litigation, by educating the parties in
advance of trial of the real value of their claims and
defenses, which may encourage settlements, and assure the
judgments rest upon the real merits of causes and not upon
the skill and maneuvering of counsel... . (23 Am. Jur.
Depos. & D.  1). However, we have seen the process
abused by parties with access to technology, who serve
voluminous, computer-generated boilerplate interrogatories
on less affluent opponents with little or no access to tech-
nology. We have also seen an increase in so-called identi-
ty theft facilitated by improper access to electronically
stored information. In addition, technology raises a myriad
of privacy issues that we are only now beginning to
appreciate.

We cannot foresee all the consequences of our actions.
Yet, at the very least, we in the justice system ought to
consider whether the application of technology will: (1)
provide security so that only authorized persons can access
the information; (2) protect individual privacy (e.g.,
addresses, Social Security numbers, medical information,
etc., unless the information is otherwise available in a pub-
lic record); (3) protect privileged communications; (4)
cause financial hardship on persons impacted; and (5)
facilitate rather than hinder equal access to justice.
As the articles in this special issue demonstrate,
technology has the potential to increase productivity,
decrease costs, and facilitate the administration of justice.
However, when it does not function as planned or is
allowed to become obsolete, valuable resources are wasted
with little or no benefit. Let us ensure that our choices in
the use of technology result in furthering expeditious and
economical access to justice.

Donald B. Jarvis
is an administrative law judge with the
United States Department of Labor in
San Francisco, California, and is chair
of the Judicial Division. He also is a
member of the Board of Alien Labor
Certification Appeals.

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