Technology, Ethics, and Access to Justice: Should an Alogrithm be Deciding Your Case?

At a time of U.S. budget cuts, popularly known as the “sequester,” court systems across the nation are facing financial shortfalls. Small claims courts are no exception. Among the worst hit states is California, which is suffering staffing cutbacks that result in long delays prompting consideration of the old maxim, “justice delayed is justice denied.” Similar problems, albeit on a larger scale, are evident in other nations including India where the Law Commission has argued that the millions of pending cases combined with the lagging uptake of technological best practices has impeded judicial productivity, leading to “disappointment and dissatisfaction among . . . justice-seekers.” As justice systems continue to struggle with inadequate resources, and individuals are confronted with the reality that pursuing claims, especially low-value claims, are often not worth the effort, justice is being denied to millions of individuals.