As the legal professional continues to grapple with e-discovery and all things electronic, it appears that with respect to the use of technology in the courtroom, it is one step forward, one step back.
E-trials continue to be the exception rather than the rule. Notwithstanding the emergence of e-discovery and growing efforts to collect, process, review and produce all records electronically in litigation, paper document briefs remain a too common product of the e-process.
E-trials remain rare. Requests for e-trials are commonly refused due to inadequate courtroom facilities and other practical considerations (in addition to push-back from other lawyers, some of whom are slow to join the technological e-party).
There are other problems. Shockingly, as recently as April of 2010, a lawyer was prohibited from using his laptop computer in the courtroom on the basis that it was a “recording device” and therefore violated court rules. When the lawyer explained that he was unable to proceed without his laptop, the Justice of the Peace adjourned the matter for four months.
This situation is particularly surprising in today’s climate, where lawyers are strongly encouraged to understand and utilize technology to the benefit of their clients. We often talk about the gap that exists between IT and Legal. Clearly, there is a practical gap between the “technology theory” and its practice in at least some Canadian courtrooms.