Courtroom Technology Competence as a Lawyer’s Ethical Duty: What Should Regulators Do About It?
eAccess to Justice, Benyehklef, Bailey, Burkell and Gelinas (eds), uOttawa Press, 2016
26 Pages Posted: 3 Dec 2015
Date Written: December 1, 2015
Courtroom technology has become a common feature of many litigators’ practices. To be sure, the available technological tools vary greatly between courtrooms, ranging from relatively simple devices like audio-recording equipment or video screens on which evidence can be displayed to fully outfitted “e-courtrooms” that feature cutting-edge technology to assist in all aspects of trial proceedings. Notwithstanding this variance, there is now a strong case that lawyers need to understand and use an increasing number of technologies in order to effectively represent their clients in court.
This Chapter considers whether the emerging ubiquity of courtroom technology translates into an ethical duty for litigators to have appropriate competence in relation to courtroom technology. The position ultimately taken is that courtroom technology competence is properly understood as an ethical obligation for litigators and should be a priority item for lawyer regulators. However, it is also argued that this ethical obligation should not be primarily addressed under the conventional rules-based system whereby lawyers’ behaviour is reactively evaluated against minimum standards within a “quasi-criminal” lawyer disciplinary regime. Instead, it is argued that lawyer regulators ought to adopt policy approaches that focus on facilitating and encouraging best practices when it comes to lawyers’ competence in courtroom technology.
Keywords: cyberjusitce, legal ethics, courtroom technology, ecourts
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