Happy New (old technology) Year – The United States Supreme Court Looks Forward to Electronic Filing

January 5, 2015 Uncategorized
In a whimsical 2014 Year-End Report  (the “Report”) of the Supreme Court of the United States (the “Supreme Court, or the “Court”) by Chief Justice John Roberts, Chief Justice Roberts acknowledges that the Supreme Court is slow to adopt technological advances.   After noting that the Court adopted the use of pneumatic tubes to move documents in 1931, he cited the criticism of the Court’s resistance to adopt new technologies: “ ‘In 1968, John P. MacKenzie, the Supreme Court reporter for the Washington Post, described the Court’s process of transmitting decisions as ‘perhaps the most primitive . . . in the entire communications industry’.”   Chief Justice Roberts also wrote that while the court is eager to adopt new technologies, there are reasons that the Court is reluctant to do so:  “The federal court… also face obstacles that arise from their distinct responsibilities and obligations. The judiciary has a special duty to ensure, as a fundamental matter of equal access to justice, that its case filing process is readily accessible to the entire population, from the most tech-savvy to the most tech-intimidated.”   Fair enough.
As many of you know, the Supreme Court does not broadcast hearings live.  To obtain first-hand accounts of the Court’s activities, one must attend the hearing in person, rely upon the second-hand account of a journalist in attendance, or wait for audio of the hearing to be released.  TV cameras have never been allowed in the Court.
So, what does the future hold for the Supreme Court? Electronic filing. As many in (and out) of the legal profession know, many federal, state, and municipal courts either allow or mandate electronic filing of documents.  The Supreme Court recognizes that it is woefully behind the curve, and hopes to have a system in place for online filing of documents by 2016.  In the meantime, hold on to your printer.
To see the report, click here http://www.supremecourt.gov/
Uploaded by Ryan Gustafson, esq. 01/05/2015