Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Digital Justice

With the hiatus of the fall TV shows (which, for some reason, are infinitely better than the summer shows), I’ve been watching re-runs of my fave shows. I’ve even gone back to the earlier seasons, to the episodes that I’ve already sort of forgotten, which I can fully re-enjoy, as if I were watching them for the first time (right now, I’m hoping to forget the entire F.R.I.E.N.D.S series so I can go on a marathon of that again! But that won’t be any time soon ‘cause I’ve seen it too many times to forget it that easily). So I was re-watching an episode of The Good Wife and this one begins with the firm rushing to finish a pleading. I’m not quite sure what was involved but it seemed like an initiatory pleading ‘cause they were emphasizing that it had to be submitted by the end of the work day, before the statute of limitations set in. At ten minutes to five, they were still working at it and I was wondering how they would ever make it in time (of course, I’d already assumed that they would make the deadline, TV show universe is always reliable). And, with only a couple of seconds to spare, they emailed the pleading.

Imagine that. Email as a mode of service and filing of court documents. Now, with a few months in OLA under my belt, this concept seems so foreign and impossible. One of the biggest impressions that have been made on me by what little actual legal practice I’ve experienced is how formalistic the legal system is. It’s a world where documents may only be served or filed personally or by registered mail and, if the latter, it must be accompanied by a proper explanation. Where registry receipts have to be attached as proof of service prior to filing. Where captions have to abide by a particular format. I guess the strictness as to the requirements is understandable, considering that dates of service, filing, receipt, etc. are significant for determining for periods of compliance. But, with this strictness, this formalistic legal just seems very unwelcoming of email becoming a recognized mode of service or filing.

But, if TV shows care about maintaining a semblance of reality, it seems that email is being accepted as a mode of service or filing in other jurisdictions. And I think the legal system is all the better for it. I think this is one of the practical applications of ICT where it can greatly improve the system. It would be definitely more efficient. It could probably help the environment a little (there would be less wastage of paper, which is considerable in the legal world; although, this may entail more use of energy). And it would physically declog the dockets (I mean, most of our courts are so cluttered and space-deprived because of the ginormous piles of files). I really hope that, someday, we could establish a wholly paperless legal system.

Aldous Benjamin Camiso, Blog Entry #8.

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