Smart computing is changing the nature of legal work even as the profession struggles to understand its scope. Machines sophisticated enough to communicate intelligibly and naturally with human hosts, technology with the processing power to wrangle big data are enhancing the way attorneys do their jobs and affecting the way they think. Law practices are now set up in paperless offices, cases litigated in hi-tech courtrooms, research done almost exclusively online, demanding higher levels of technical competency and professional responsibility. The vocabulary of technology is filling the legal landscape: algorithms, analytics, artificial intelligence (A.I.), automated decision-making, avatars, big data, cloud computing, code, cognitive computing, computer-aided, computer-generated, creative computing, cyborg, data driven, data mining, data science, data trails, deep learning, electronic discovery (e-discovery), expert systems, machine learning, metadata, mobile technology, mosaic theory, natural language, neural networks, paperless and virtual offices, pattern matching, predictive analytics, robotics, self-replicating technologies, smart data, smart technology, source code, and supercomputers. So, time worn lexicons and practice libraries are infiltrated with the latest computer terminologies and technical manuals. The work of lawyers, judges and government officials increasingly relies on the processing power of microchips. So, the Bartleby of tomorrow is taking shape today. From document assembly to document drafting, the borderlands of decision-making, data analysis, and communication will mark the progress of law and raise new questions for the administration of justice. And the breadth of information competence will need to expand with each new generation of technology. This article by Ken Strutin is a significant, comprehensive and expert guide to recent and notable works on the automation of lawyering, the administration of law and legal thinking.
Report – President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology Casts Doubt on Criminal Forensics
The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) stated in their report – “Among the more than 2.2 million inmates in U.S. prisons and jails, countless may have been convicted using unreliable or fabricated forensic science. The U.S. has an abiding and unfulfilled moral obligation to free citizens who were imprisoned by such questionable means.” Ken Strutin’s article features information about the PCAST Report, its reception by advocates and critics, and related articles, publications and developments concerning the science of innocence.
Ken Strutin’s expansive scholarship, acumen, commitment to and comprehensive knowledge of criminal law and justice is fully articulated and shared in his new guide. He robustly argues and supports his reasoning that retribution is at odds with medical reality for conviction alone and does not make someone fit for incarceration. He believes and defends the position that disease, infirmity, trauma and the damage that life terms inflict are judgments without appeal and rarely considered at sentencing. Strutin articulates the significant yet insufficiently acknowledged fact that despite all the money spent on prisons, little attention is devoted to humanizing the admission decision. Meanwhile, penal institutions are becoming society’s punitive safety net, arrogating the roles of psychiatric wards and old age homes. This comprehensive, extensively and accurately researched and documented guide encompasses selected reports, scholarly research and news stories about the unseen punishments created by sentencing laws and prison administration that ignore fitness for incarceration.
Most workplaces, whether public, private, academic – within the government, legal, education, news, or advocacy sectors – are increasingly focused on how to define, implement and position the use of ‘Big Data,’ data analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), and even robotics, into respective organizational missions that are under increasing pressure to innovate faster. Ken Strutin’s comprehensive, insightful and expertly documented article is a critical read to assist all of us in the legal environment, regardless of our role, in understanding key cases, issues, science, technology and applications, and potential as well as actual outcomes. As Strutin writes, the term “Mecha” envisions a futuristic artificial intelligence wrapped in human likeness and seamlessly woven into the activities of society. It represents a time when the aggrandizement of our species will depend on technology that looks and thinks like us. Today, the prototype of attorney mechas are emerging from advances in computer reasoning and big data. The demands of increasingly complex legal transactions, sophisticated consumers, and the momentum of technology are putting pressures on the practice of law that only computer assistance can relieve. This compilation of notable news articles, scientific studies and legal scholarship highlights the progress of rights, responsibilities and roles of legal professionals and thinking machines.
Ken Strutin’s article is a survey of legal scholarship and medical research concerning the study of pain and its significance for the administration of civil and criminal justice. The complexity of pain’s impact on each individual’s life is increasingly relevant in the context of the administration of civil and criminal justice. Strutin’s subject matter expertise in issues of law and justice is further articulated in this this article as he undertakes a timely review of an increasingly relevant issue that impacts the lives of defendants and complainants alike.
Criminal law expert Ken Strutin’s new article is yet another research tour de force – a collection of recent and notable developments concerning DNA as forensic science, metric of guilt, herald of innocence, and its emerging place in the debate over privacy and surveillance. The increasing use of DNA evidence to support assumptions of an individual’s guilt and less frequently as a tool to prove the innocence of prisoners wrongly convicted, reflects many facets of the changing fabric of the American criminal justice, the role of the Fourth Amendment and the increasing collection of a wide range of biological evidence from crime scenes whose metadata then is searchable within the national DNA database.
Ken Strutin writes in his latest article as follows -“science has much to say about how individual behavior and group wide phenomena influence the core issues of criminal justice. From self-incrimination to self-representation, from prosecuting to judging, from trial to punishment the law recognizes that there are subtle psychologics at work. Indeed, there is one long continuum of cognitive realities that pervade every precinct of criminal justice. And now, scientific study and legal scholarship has uncovered hidden biases in the deliberations of justice as well as overt barriers to cognitive functioning associated with confinement. This article is a collection of research into the cognitive nature of criminal justice participants, the constraints of confinement, and the administration of justice.”
Ken Strutin’s article surveys notable legal developments, new scholarship, and recent scientific research concerning the administration and effects of solitary confinement. Strutin describes solitary confinement as punishment’s punishment. He states that solitary is where the mind is worn out by pacing the same floor, viewing the same walls, tuning in to the same sounds without relief. He documents how extreme isolation has devastating psychological and physical consequences, collectively described as “SHU syndrome.” Strutin delivers illumination to the heart of legal challenges and legislative reforms now supported by an expanding body of research into the harmfulness of prolonged human isolation.
Ken Strutin’s paper addresses a seminal issue that has been an integral part of the personal and collective ethic of diverse peoples around the world. As Strutin states, when life is classified biologically, it is also defined legally. Thus is formed the tension between the natural and juridical worlds. Whether animal rights can ever fall within the ambit of personhood will depend as much on the findings of cognitive science as on the evolution of legal remedies. Indeed, the foundations for nonhuman personhood are being laid in a growing body of litigation and scholarship at the borderlands of science and civil justice.
Ken Strutin argues that cut-and-paste is a laudable method for reducing transcription errors in copying citations and quotations. However, he identifies that a problem arises when it is used to lift verbatim sections of a party’s arguments into a case decision. Stipulations and proposed orders from counsel for both parties might be enviable and practicable, but judgment and fact-finding are solely in the province of the court. This has been a long standing issue that has spanned technologies from shears and paste-pot to typewriters and computers, and which might culminate in a Turing Test for case law.