by Stephanie Viscasillas

Michigan Creates Cyber Court

May 01, 20022 mins

Though virtual trials may lack the caustic quips or acerbic edge of Judge Judy you may soon be able to watch them online. The state of Michigan is the first in the nation to create a cybercourt where people can plead their case without setting foot in a courtroom.

Set to debut in October, the court will begin by handling business disputes in excess of $25,000. Matt Resch, deputy press secretary for Michigan Gov. John Engler, says the governor signed the bill into law in hopes that the promise of speedy resolutions to business lawsuits would attract companies?particularly technology companies?to the state.

“It’s difficult to get slower than our current judicial system,” says Todd Harcek, chief of staff for Rep. Marc Shulman (R-West Bloomfield), who proposed the bill. The cybercourt system will allow the involved parties to meet via videoconference and submit evidence over the Internet. Only the judge is required to be in the state during the proceedings. To prevent wasting the court’s time, there is a $200 filing fee, and all parties have to agree to the rules of the cybercourt before proceeding, including allowing the judge to render a decision without a jury present.

At press time, the Michigan Supreme Court was still ironing out the final details with a legislative oversight committee, but Harcek is assured there will be adequate security when the trials begin. Since the public still has the legal right to view proceedings, the site would have to be secure enough to keep certain documents contained but accessible enough for people to see what’s happening just as they would in a regular courtroom. Resch says the virtual court will cost an estimated $250,000 to set up, and those funds will come largely from the judiciary budget already in place.