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Article

Access_open Suffering from Vulnerability

On the Relation Between Law, Contingency and Solidarity

Journal Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Issue 2 2021
Keywords Vulnerability, Contingency, Freedom and Anxiety, Solidarity, Legal concept of inclusion
Authors Benno Zabel
AbstractAuthor's information

    The COVID-19 crisis has produced or amplified disruptive processes in societies. This article wants to argue for the fact that we understand the meaning of the COVID-19 crisis only if we relate it to the fundamental vulnerability of modern life and the awareness of vulnerability of whole societies. Vulnerability in modernity are expressions of a reality of freedom that is to some extent considered contingent and therefore unsecured. It is true that law is understood today as the protective power of freedom. The thesis of the article, however, boils down to the fact that the COVID-19 crisis has resulted in a new way of thinking about the protection of freedom. This also means that the principle of solidarity must be assigned a new social role. Individual and societal vulnerability refer thereafter to an interconnectedness, dependency, and a future perspective of freedom margins that, in addition to the moral one, can also indicate a need for legal protection. In this respect, law has not only a function of delimitation, but also one of inclusion.


Benno Zabel
Benno Zabel is Professor of Criminal Law and Philosophy of Law at the University of Bonn.
Article

Access_open Victim-Offender Contact in Forensic Mental Health

Resocialisation and Victim Acknowledgement During the Execution of the Dutch TBS Order

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 3 2021
Keywords victim-offender contact, resocialisation, victim acknowledgement, forensic psychiatry, mentally disordered offenders
Authors Lydia Dalhuisen and Alice Kirsten Bosma
AbstractAuthor's information

    Crime victims have gained a stronger position in all phases of the criminal procedure, including the post-sentencing phase. It is in this phase specifically that victims’ needs and interests relating to acknowledgement interplay with the offenders’ needs and interests relating to resocialisation. In the Netherlands, offenders who suffer from a mental disorder at the time of the offence limiting their criminal accountability and pose a significant safety threat, can be given a TBS order. This means that they are placed in a forensic psychiatric hospital to prevent further crimes and receive treatment aimed at resocialisation. As resocialisation requires the offender to return to society, contact with the victim might be a necessary step. This article focuses on victim-offender contact during the execution of this TBS order, and looks at risks and opportunities of victim-offender contact in this context, given the particular offender population. Offenders are divided into three groups: those with primarily psychotic disorders, those suffering from personality disorders and those with comorbidity, especially substance abuse disorders. The TBS population is atypical compared to offenders without a mental disorder. Their disorders can heighten the risks of unsuccessful or even counterproductive victim-offender contact. Yet, carefully executed victim-offender contact which includes thorough preparation, managing expectations and choosing the right type of contact can contribute to both successful resocialisation as well as victim acknowledgement.


Lydia Dalhuisen
Lydia Dalhuisen, PhD, is Assistant Professor at the Utrecht University, the Netherlands.

Alice Kirsten Bosma
Alice Kirsten Bosma is Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Law of Tilburg University, the Netherlands.
Developments in European Law

Applicability of the GDPR on Personal Household Robots

Journal Hungarian Yearbook of International Law and European Law, Issue 1 2021
Keywords artificial intelligence, robots, personal data, GDPR, scenarios
Authors Gizem Gültekin Várkonyi
AbstractAuthor's information

    Recent developments in artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics point to a close future collaboration between humans and machines. Even though the use of personal robots is not yet a phenomenon, findings in technical and legal literature highlight several possible risks inherent in the processing of personal data by such robots. This article contributes to the current discussions on the applicability of the GDPR to AI technologies from three aspects: (i) first, it encourages the use of a scenario method to predict possible future legal problems related to new technologies; (ii) second, it analyzes considerations with the support of the relevant case-law and present comparative expert opinions for overcoming the weak points of the GDPR relevant to AI; (iii) and finally, proposals made in the recommendations part aim to contribute to a better application of the GDPR to AI technologies in personal use.


Gizem Gültekin Várkonyi
Gizem Gültekin Várkonyi: junior research fellow, University of Szeged.
Annual lecture

Access_open Transforming restorative justice

Journal The International Journal of Restorative Justice, Issue 3 2021
Keywords relational theory, transformative justice, systemic injustice
Authors Jennifer J. Llewellyn
AbstractAuthor's information

    From the global pandemic to the Black Lives Matter, the Me Too/Times Up and Indigenous reconciliation and decolonisation movements, the systemic and structural failures of current social institutions around the world have all been brought to our collective consciousness in poignant, painful and urgent ways. The need for fundamental social and systemic transformation is clear. This challenge is central to the work of dealing with the past in countries undergoing transition and in established democracies confronting deep structural inequalities and injustices. Rooted in lessons from the application of restorative justice across these contexts, this article suggests that grounding restorative justice as a relational theory of justice is key to understanding and realising the potential of a restorative approach for transformation. It also explores the implications of this transformative imperative for the growth and development of restorative justice


Jennifer J. Llewellyn
Jennifer Llewellyn is Professor and Chair in Restorative Justice at the Schulich School of Law, Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia, Canada, and Director of the Restorative Research, Innovation and Education Lab. www.restorativelab.ca. Contact author: Jennifer.Llewellyn@Dal.Ca.

Albert Dzur
Albert Dzur is Distinguished Research Professor, Departments of Political Science and Philosophy, Bowling Green State University, USA. Contact author: awdzur@bgsu.edu.
Article

Access_open Using restorative justice to rethink the temporality of transition in Chile

Journal The International Journal of Restorative Justice, Issue 2 2021
Keywords temporality, transitional justice, restorative justice, Chile, ongoingness, multilayeredness & multidirectionality
Authors Marit de Haan and Tine Destrooper
AbstractAuthor's information

    Assumptions of linear progress and a clean break with the past have long characterised transitional justice interventions. This notion of temporality has increasingly been problematised in transitional justice scholarship and practice. Scholars have argued that a more complex understanding of temporalities is needed that better accommodates the temporal messiness and complexity of transitions, including their ongoingness, multilayeredness and multidirectionality. Existing critiques, however, have not yet resulted in a new conceptual framework for thinking about transitional temporalities. This article builds on insights from the field of restorative justice to develop such a framework. This framework foregrounds longer timelines, multilayered temporalities and temporal ecologies to better reflect reality on the ground and victims’ lived experiences. We argue that restorative justice is a useful starting point to develop such a temporal framework because of its actor-oriented, flexible and interactive nature and proximity to the field of transitional justice. Throughout this article we use the case of Chile to illustrate some of the complex temporal dynamics of transition and to illustrate what a more context-sensitive temporal lens could mean for such cases of unfinished transition.


Marit de Haan
Marit de Haan is a PhD researcher at the Human Rights Centre of Ghent University, Belgium.

Tine Destrooper
Tine Destrooper is Associate Professor of Transitional Justice at the Human Rights Centre of Ghent University, Belgium. Contact author: marit.dehaan@ugent.be.

Stephan Parmentier
Stephan Parmentier is a Professor of Sociology of Law, Crime and Human Rights at the Faculty of Law, KU Leuven, Belgium. Contact author: stephan.parmentier@kuleuven.be.
Article

Access_open Curbing Drug Use in the Seychelles through Regulation beyond Legislation

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 1 2021
Keywords Seychelles, legislative drafting, drug abuse, drug abuse legislation
Authors Amelie Nourrice
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article was written with the intention of figuring out why the Seychelles has been unable to douse the drug epidemic despite apparent vigorous efforts on the part of the government and of finding a new way of curtailing drug abuse without relying entirely on legislation, which although in some ways are necessary, has on its own, been incapable serving efficacy.
    The article introduces a four step pyramid giving effect to a responsive approach which Braithwaite suggests lays ‘emphasis on the pyramidal regulatory structure, on regulation through engagement and dialogue rather than by dictat, on bringing third parties into what had been previously characterized as a binary regulator/regulatee interaction, and on the concept of the benign big gun.’
    Thus, by building a drug user’s capacity and providing the apt restorative treatment before labelling him as an offender and subjecting him to incapacitation, the drug user is offered an opportunity at restoration.
    The criteria featuring in the pyramid must work in conjunction with the law as this combination and the use of various actors at each tier is a significant way to effectively execute government policies without that strict and direct regulator/regulatee relationship whereby the former would otherwise lord it over the latter.


Amelie Nourrice
Amelie Nourrice is Legislative Drafter, Office of the Attorney General, The Seychelles.
Article

Why an atmosphere of transhumanism undermines green restorative justice concepts and tenets

Journal The International Journal of Restorative Justice, Issue 1 2021
Keywords green restorative justice, transhumanism, technological progress, animals, bioethics
Authors Gema Varona
AbstractAuthor's information

    Arising from the notions of green criminology and green victimology, green restorative justice can be defined as a restorative justice focused on environmental harm. Harm in this case is understood as criminalised and non-criminalised, and as individual and collective behaviours damaging the ecosystems and the existence of human and non-human beings. Impacts of environmental harm affect health, economic, social and cultural dimensions, and will be experienced in the short, medium and long term. Within this framework, after linking restorative justice to green criminology and green victimology, I will argue that the current weight of the cultural and social movement of transhumanism constitutes an obstacle to the development of restorative justice in this field. The reason is that it fosters individual narcissism, together with the idea of an absence of limits in what is considered technological progress. This progress is seen as inevitable and good per se, and promotes the perception of a lack of social and moral accountability. This reasoning will lead to some final reflections on how restorative justice has to constantly reinvent itself in order to keep creating a critical and inclusive justice of ‘otherness’. By doing so, restorative justice must join the current interdisciplinary conversation on biopolitics and bioethics.


Gema Varona
Gema Varona is a Senior Researcher at the Basque Institute of Criminology, University of the Basque Country, Donostia/San Sebastián, Spain. Contact author: gemmamaria.varona@ehu.eus.
Article

Access_open A future agenda for environmental restorative justice?

Journal The International Journal of Restorative Justice, Issue 1 2021
Keywords restorative justice, restorative practice, environmental justice, environmental regulation
Authors Miranda Forsyth, Deborah Cleland, Felicity Tepper e.a.
AbstractAuthor's information

    The challenges of developing meaningful environmental regulation to protect communities and the environment have never been greater. Environmental regulators are regularly criticised for failing to act hard and consistently, in turn leading to demands for harsher punishments and more rigorous enforcement. Whilst acknowledging the need for strong enforcement to address wantonly destructive practices threatening communities and ecosystems, we argue that restorative approaches have an important role. This article explores a future agenda for environmental restorative justice through (1) situating it within existing scholarly and practice-based environmental regulation traditions; (2) identifying key elements and (3) raising particular theoretical and practical challenges. Overall, our vision for environmental restorative justice is that its practices can permeate the entire regulatory spectrum, going far beyond restorative justice conferences within enforcement proceedings. We see it as a shared and inclusive vision that seeks to integrate, hybridise and build broader ownership for environmental restorative justice throughout existing regulatory practices and institutions, rather than creating parallel structures or paradigms.


Miranda Forsyth
Miranda Forsyth is Associate Professor at the School of Regulation and Governance in the College of Asia and Pacific in the Australian National University, Australia.

Deborah Cleland
Deborah Cleland is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the School of Regulation and Governance in the College of Asia and Pacific in the Australian National University, Australia.

Felicity Tepper
Felicity Tepper is a Senior Research Officer at the School of Regulation and Governance in the College of Asia and Pacific in the Australian National University, Australia.

Deborah Hollingworth
Deborah Hollingworth is a Principal Solicitor at the Environment Protection Authority Victoria, Australia.

Milena Soares
Milena Soares is a public servant at the Técnica de Desenvolvimento e Administração,Brazil.

Alistair Nairn
Alistair Nairn is Senior Engagement Advisor at the Environment Protection Authority Victoria, Australia.

Cathy Wilkinson
Cathy Wilkinson is Professor of Practice at Monash Sustainable Development, Australia. Contact author: miranda.forsyth@anu.edu.au.
Article

A maximalist approach of restorative justice to address environmental harms and crimes

Analysing the Brumadinho dam collapse in Brazil

Journal The International Journal of Restorative Justice, Issue 1 2021
Keywords environmental law, maximalist approach, restorative justice principles and concepts, decision-making process, sanctioning rules
Authors Carlos Frederico Da Silva
AbstractAuthor's information

    In this article, the author analyses court cases arising from the rupture of the mining tailings dam in the city of Brumadinho, Brazil, on 25 January 2019. In a civil lawsuit context, legal professionals recognised damage to people and the environment during hearings involving a judge, prosecutors, lawyers and corporate representatives. The centrality of the victims’ interests and the need for remedial measures prevailed in the agreements signed mainly to provide urgent relief and restore damage to the ecosystem. In the criminal lawsuit dealing with the same facts, there have not yet been acquittals, non-prosecution agreements or convictions. By employing a socio-legal approach to contrast different types of legal reasoning, this article explores the possibilities of restorative responses in civil proceedings and explains the lack of them in criminal justice. In highlighting some characteristics of punishment theories that hinder a possible restorative justice approach, the article offers a critique of a penal system mostly linked to argumentative competition rather than persuasive conflict resolution. The author argues that jurisprudence should address transdisciplinary concepts, such as responsive regulation, restorative efforts, proportionality and individualisation of punishment. The discussion can shed light on the decision-making process to allow environmental restorative justice responses to crimes.


Carlos Frederico Da Silva
Carlos Frederico Braga Da Silva is a PhD researcher associated to the Graduate School of Sociology at the Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil, and to the Canadian Chair of Legal Traditions and Penal Rationality, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Criminology, University of Ottawa, Canada. He also works as a state judge in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil. Contact author: carlosfrebrasilva@gmail.com.
Article

Imagining a community that includes non-human beings

The 1990s Moyainaoshi Movement in Minamata, Japan

Journal The International Journal of Restorative Justice, Issue 1 2021
Keywords restorative justice, community, environmental damage, spirituality, Japan, the Moyainaoshi Movement
Authors Orika Komatsubara
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article offers a vision of a community that includes non-human beings. After suffering environmental damage, a community is often harmed and confused. Restorative justice may have the potential to intervene in divisions with a community approach. However, though environmental damage affects both human and non-human beings, restorative justice typically concerns itself with human communities. Therefore, through a review of the literature I consider what non-human beings mean for a community, focusing on the Moyainaoshi Movement (MM) in Minamata, Japan, in the 1990s. This movement aimed to reconstruct the community after severe, long-term pollution. First, I examine the motivations of several stakeholders that worked to reconstruct the Minamata community in the 1990s. Second, I clarify the role of non-human beings in the vision of community as practiced by the MM. I find that non-human beings served as symbols to connect human beings within the community. Finally, I conclude that a vision of a community that includes non-human beings can propel community reconstruction in our current political realities, and I reveal that in studying this concept of community in restorative justice, listening to victims’ voices is of paramount importance.


Orika Komatsubara
Orika Komatsubara is working under a Research Fellowship for Young Scientists from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS). This study was supported by Grant Number 20J00091. Contact author: orika1982@gmail.com.
Article

Digital Equals Public

Assembly Meetings Under a Lockdown Regime

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 4 2020
Keywords COVID-19 regulation, temporary legislation, sunset clauses, digitalization, digital democracy, local democracy, experimental legislation
Authors Lianne van Kalken and Evert Stamhuis
AbstractAuthor's information

    In this article we examine the Dutch emergency legislation for local democracy. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the Netherlands, the Temporary Act for digital meetings for local/regional government tiers was enacted. The legislature introduced a system of digital debate and decision-making for municipal and provincial councils, the democratically elected assemblies at the local and regional levels. At the same time the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations set up an evaluation committee to monitor and evaluate the working of the local and provincial governments with this temporary legislation.
    This article discusses the content and application of the temporary provisions for deliberation and decision-making on a digital platform. The purpose of the legislation is to create possibilities for the elected representatives to continue their work during the lockdown. We examine the design and structure of the legislation and disclose the evaluation results so far. The arrangements aim for secure, transparent and reliable democratic practices. Early evidence pertaining to the effects of the Act show that it works effectively only up to a certain level. We critically discuss the sunset clause in the Act and plead against function creep. Moreover, the expectations now and in the future from continuous digitalization of this part of the democratic process should be modest. On the basis of our analysis of the characteristics of the legislation and the effects on the political work of the representatives, we conclude that the current form of digitalization does not provide for the interaction between representatives and their constituencies and the communities at large.


Lianne van Kalken
Lianne van Kalken is lecturer and researcher constitutional law in Erasmus School of Law. She was a member of the evaluation committee, but contributes to this article in a personal capacity. For further affiliations see http://www.linkedin.com/in/liannevankalken/.

Evert Stamhuis
Evert F. Stamhuis is chair Law & Innovation at Erasmus School of Law and senior fellow of the Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence on Digital Governance. See for other affiliations https://www.linkedin.com/in/evertstamhuis/
Article

Access_open How Far Should the State Go to Counter Prejudice?

A Positive State Obligation to Counter Dehumanisation

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 3 2020
Keywords prejudice, soft paternalism, empathy, liberalism, employment discrimination, access to goods and services
Authors Ioanna Tourkochoriti
AbstractAuthor's information

    This article argues that it is legitimate for the state to practice soft paternalism towards changing hearts and minds in order to prevent behaviour that is discriminatory. Liberals accept that it is not legitimate for the state to intervene in order to change how people think because ideas and beliefs are wrong in themselves. It is legitimate for the state to intervene with the actions of a person only when there is a risk of harm to others and when there is a threat to social coexistence. Preventive action of the state is legitimate if we consider the immaterial and material harm that discrimination causes. It causes harm to the social standing of the person, psychological harm, economic and existential harm. All these harms threaten peaceful social coexistence. This article traces a theory of permissible government action. Research in the areas of behavioural psychology, neuroscience and social psychology indicates that it is possible to bring about a change in hearts and minds. Encouraging a person to adopt the perspective of the person who has experienced discrimination can lead to empathetic understanding. This, can lead a person to critically evaluate her prejudice. The paper argues that soft paternalism towards changing hearts and minds is legitimate in order to prevent harm to others. It attempts to legitimise state coercion in order to eliminate prejudice and broader social patterns of inequality and marginalisation. And it distinguishes between appropriate and non-appropriate avenues the state could pursue in order to eliminate prejudice. Policies towards eliminating prejudice should address the rational and the emotional faculties of a person. They should aim at using methods and techniques that focus on persuasion and reduce coercion. They should raise awareness of what prejudice is and how it works in order to facilitate well-informed voluntary decisions. The version of soft paternalism towards changing minds and attitudes defended in this article makes it consistent with liberalism.


Ioanna Tourkochoriti
Ioanna Tourkochoriti is Lecturer Above the Bar, NUI Galway School of Law.

Jee Aei (Jamie) Lee
Jee Aei Lee is Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Officer, Justice Section, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Vienna, Austria.

Yvon Dandurand
Yvon Dandurand is Professor Emeritus in Criminology, University of the Fraser Valley, and Fellow and Senior Associate at the International Centre for Criminal Law Reform, Vancouver, Canada. Contact authors: jeeaei.lee@un.org; Yvon.Dandurand@ufv.ca.
Article

The Development of Human Rights Diplomacy Since the Establishment of the UN

More Actors, More Efficiency?

Journal Hungarian Yearbook of International Law and European Law, Issue 1 2020
Keywords human rights, diplomacy, international organizations, NGOs, corporate social responsibility
Authors István Lakatos
AbstractAuthor's information

    This study gives a comprehensive picture of the development of human rights diplomacy since the establishment of the UN, focusing on the dilemmas governments are facing regarding their human-rights-related decisions and demonstrating the changes that occurred during the post-Cold War period, both in respect of the tools and participants in this field. Special attention is given to the role of international organizations, and in particular to the UN in this process, and the new human rights challenges the international community must address in order to maintain the relevance of human rights diplomacy.


István Lakatos
István Lakatos: career diplomat, former human rights ambassador of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary, currently senior adviser of the Ministry of Human and Minority Rights of Montenegro.
Article

The Elusive Quest for Digital Exhaustion in the US and the EU

The CJEU’s Tom Kabinet Ruling a Milestone or Millstone for Legal Evolution?

Journal Hungarian Yearbook of International Law and European Law, Issue 1 2020
Keywords digital exhaustion, Tom Kabinet, UsedSoft, ReDigi, copyright law
Authors Shubha Ghosh and Péter Mezei
AbstractAuthor's information

    The CJEU published its much-awaited preliminary ruling in Case C-263/18 - Nederlands Uitgeversverbond and Groep Algemene Uitgevers (the Tom Kabinet case) in December 2019. Our paper aims to introduce the Tom Kabinet ruling and discuss its direct and indirect consequences in copyright law. The Tom Kabinet ruling has seriously limited (in fact, outruled) the resale of lawfully acquired e-books. It left various questions unanswered, and thus missed the opportunity to provide for clarity and consistency in digital copyright law. Our analysis addresses how the CJEU deferred from its own logic developed in the UsedSoft decision on the resale of lawfully acquired computer programs, and how the CJEU’s conservative approach ultimately missed the opportunity to reach a compromise ruling. The paper further introduces the US approach that has a strong distinction between selling and making with respect to the research of exhaustion. We aim to trace how this distinction rests on the statutory basis for exhaustion (in copyright) and common law basis (in patent and trademark law) and compare these findings with the CJEU’s recent interpretation of exhaustion. Our focus will be on the Supreme Court’s decisions in Kirstaeng and Bowman and lower court decisions that examine technological solutions to facilitate resale. We examine how the US approach adopts a rigid approach that might inhibit technological development in digital markets, an approach with parallels in the Tom Kabinet ruling. In conclusion, we assess whether there is convergence between the two sides of the Atlantic or whether there is a path of innovative legal development that reconciles the various precedents.


Shubha Ghosh
Shubha Ghosh: Crandall Melvin professor of law, Syracuse University, US.

Péter Mezei
Péter Mezei: associate professor of law, University of Szeged; adjunct professor (dosentti), University of Turku, Finland.
Annual lecture

Access_open The indecent demands of accountability: trauma, marginalisation, and moral agency in youth restorative conferencing

Journal The International Journal of Restorative Justice, Issue 2 2020
Keywords Restorative justice, youth offenders, trauma, marginalisation, offender accountability
Authors William R. Wood
AbstractAuthor's information

    In this article I explore the concept of accountability for young people in youth restorative conferencing. Definitions of accountability in research and programme literature demonstrate significant variation between expectations of young people to admit harms, make amends, address the causes of their offending, and desist from future offending. Such variation is problematic in terms of aligning conferencing goals with accountability expectations. I first draw from research that suggests appeals to normative frameworks such as accountability may not be useful for some young people with significant histories of victimisation, abuse, neglect, and trauma. I then examine problems in accountability for young people that are highly marginalised or ‘redundant’ in terms of systemic exclusion from economic and social forms of capital. These two issues – trauma on the micro level and social marginalisation on the macro level – suggest problems of getting to accountability for some young people. I also argue trauma and social marginalisation present specific problems for thinking about young offenders as ‘moral subjects’ and conferencing as an effective mechanism of moralising social control. I conclude by suggesting a clear distinction between accountability and responsibility is necessary to disentangle the conflation of misdeeds from the acute social, psychological, and developmental needs of some young offenders.


William R. Wood
William R. Wood is a Senior Lecturer, School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia. The manuscript is a revision of the author’s presentation of the Annual Lecture for the International Journal of Restorative Justice, Australian and New Zealand Society of Criminology Conference (ANZSOC), Perth, Australia, 14 December 2019. Contact author: w.wood@griffith.edu.au.

Yoko Hosoi
Yoko Hosoi is Emeritus Professor, Toyo University, Tokyo, Japan.

Tetsu Harayama
Tetsu Harayama is a Visiting Researcher, Toyo University, Tokyo, Japan.
Article

Artificial Intelligence in the Courtroom

Increasing or Decreasing Access to Justice?

Journal International Journal of Online Dispute Resolution, Issue 1 2020
Keywords artificial intelligence, robojudge, separation of powers, algorithm, due proces
Authors Analisa Morrison
AbstractAuthor's information

    Jurisdictions around the world are experimenting with the use of artificially intelligent systems to help them adjudicate cases. With heavily overloaded dockets and cases that go on for years, many courts in the U.S. are eager to follow suit. However, American authorities should be slow to substitute human judges with automated entities. The uniqueness of the U.S. Constitution has demands that artificially intelligent “judges” may not be able to meet, starting with a machine’s lack of what may be called “true intelligence”. Philosopher John Searle wrote about the distinction between true intelligence and artificial intelligence in his famous “Chinese Room” analogy, which is applicable to the discussion of artificial intelligence in the courtroom. Former Navy Reserves officer, robotics engineer, and current patent lawyer Bob Lambrechts analyzed the idea of robots in court in his article, May It Please the Algorithm. Other scholars have started to explore it, too, but the idea of robots as judges remains a vast legal frontier that ought to be excavated thoroughly before it is inhabited by the American legal system.


Analisa Morrison
Juris Doctor Candidate, 2021, University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law
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