From a Panacea to a Panopticon: The Use and Misuse of Technology in the Regulation of Judges
49 Pages Posted: 17 Sep 2020
Date Written: 2020
This Article reveals the untold story of Legal-Net, Israel’s cloud-based judicial management system. While scholarly attention has thus far focused on the narrow question of the impact technology may have on judicial decision-making or on efficiency, little has been written on the manner in which technology affects the regulation and management of judges and the administration of justice as a whole. Through a combined historical analysis and interview methodology, we trace the development of Legal-Net from the early 1990s and situate it within a theoretical law-and-technology context. Detailing Legal-Net’s trajectory provides meaningful insights as to the relationship between regulation, technology, and the judicial role. More specifically, it unearths four approaches to technology as a regulatory tool, harnessed by the state to govern the public sector itself (and in particular, the production of justice): the bureaucratic/administrative approach, the structural approach, the managerial/integrative approach, and the normative approach. While distinct, these approaches interlace and demonstrate that the processes through which organizational technology is developed and implemented are far from value-neutral. The emerging technological ecosystem and in particular the “technological gaze” — the omnipresent data collection via managerial technology — have considerable implications on the manner in which judges are nudged to comply with expectations. The research further reveals that, as a new technological ecosystem was established, so was the internal perspective of judges regarding the judicial function transformed: from “retail” justice to “wholesale” provision of dispute resolution services (under the law).
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