The cornerstone of any free society is a thriving court system which takes the approach to justice very seriously. For a court system to truly serve its constituents it has to keep up with the technology and the Canadian legal system is no exception.
Fortunately, the modern technological advances that have been woven into the Canadian courts have proven to not only be cost effective but also to serve the greater good.
I see you!
There is a practical aspect of adapting technology to court use and that has to do with geography. Beyond our vibrant urban cities, Canada is a vast land of abundant resources and environments. The current population stands at 30 million + but we are scattered all across the Canadian landscape. As such, it’s not uncommon for a judge to be issuing rulings 1,500 miles from the main courthouse. This is where video conferencing has made a huge difference in terms of expediting court cases.
With video conferencing, a judge can review, cross examine and make a ruling on an applicant who might be several miles away. By adapting video conferencing there is also a great reduction in the need for prisoner escort costs. In some cases, a video conference is a benefit when a hardened criminal can remain incarcerated without the chance of getting contraband passed to them outside the confines of the jail. This is definitely a case where swift justice can prevail.
Another positive use of technology is with case management, especially the large amounts of paperwork to manage. New software and systems have been created that allow documents to be created, edited and stored virtually on secure servers. It allows court clerks instant access to case files and removes redundant data entry.
As with the video conferencing, upgrading to a case-management system for certain court documents is a cost saver not only on paper but also physical storage space. The caution is to insure that these documents are secure. Safeguards need to be put into place to make sure only designated court personnel would have access to these types of records. By the same token, these files have to be properly updated to insure that an innocent party has their record expunged.
Efficiency is the key
During the actual trial, technology can play a role when it comes to evidence presentation. A power point presentation is easy to compile and understand. It’s also helpful when it comes to reviewing that evidence if it is kept on a single file as opposed to scattered over dozens of charts and placards. Many courts have upgraded old transcript recording to new digital recording methods. Once again technology proves to streamline a process while reducing costs.
Clearly, the Canadian courts are putting technology to work. The question then becomes how dominant will that technology become and will there be safeguards to protect privacy? Ironically, the answer to that will be decided by the courts.