Algorithms in the Court: Does it Matter Which Part of the Judicial Decision-Making is Automated?
25 Pages Posted: 7 Sep 2022
Date Written: September 2, 2022
Artificial intelligence plays an increasingly important role in legal disputes, influencing not only the reality outside the court, but also the judicial decision-making process itself. While it is clear why judges may generally benefit from technology as a tool for reducing effort costs or increasing accuracy, the presence of technology in the judicial process may also affect the public perception of the courts. In particular, if individuals are averse to adjudication that involves a high degree of automation, particularly given fairness concerns, then judicial technology may yield lower benefits than expected. However, the degree of aversion may well depend on how technology is used, i.e., on the timing and strength of judicial reliance on algorithms.
Using an exploratory survey, we investigate whether the stage in which judges turn to algorithms for assistance matters for individual beliefs about the fairness of case outcomes. Specifically, we elicit beliefs about the use of algorithms in four different stages of adjudication: (i) information acquisition, (ii) information analysis, (iii) decision selection, and (iv) decision implementation. Our analysis indicates that individuals generally perceive the use of algorithms as fairer in the information acquisition stage than other stages. However, individuals with a legal profession also perceive automation in the decision implementation stage as less fair compared to other individuals. Our findings, hence, suggest that individuals do care about how and when algorithms are used in the courts.
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