By AUDREY L. BARNEY
Capital News Service
LANSING — The Michigan Supreme Court is redefining the court system through cyber space and is seeking public comments.
The court published a proposed set of rules for Michigan’s Cyber Court last week.
Created in 2001, the court was designed to provide an electronic way of handling court cases. It features e-filings, Web-based conferencing and virtual courtrooms.
The proposed rules address specific areas that will help the Cyber Court run more smoothly.
“The Cyber Court needs its own set of rules because of the special issues raised by technology,” said Supreme Court Justice Robert Young.
Young chairs the court’s Technology Advisory Group.
“The Cyber Court makes us reconsider such basic matters as, ‘What is a filing or a document?'” Young said.
“Now we need to broaden those definitions to include electronic records that may not exist on paper.”
Young said one of the Supreme Court’s goals is to integrate electronic legal practices into Michigan’s existing justice system.
Vince Lavieri of Greenville is not excited about using the Cyber Court system.
“That new court system will cost a lot money and many problems,” said Lavieri, legal aide for attorney G.R. Pete Frye.
“There are just so many factors to consider like, ‘Will our computer system be compatible with others?'”
Lavieri said the Cyber Court leaves too much room for error.
“People may say they e-mailed a document and we may never get it ” he said.
“It will just make practicing law more confusing and difficult. I don’t expect Montcalm County to be adopting the system any time soon.”
Lavieri raised other questions such as, “How will the court protect documents from being altered?”
Marcia McBrien, the Supreme Court public information officer, said comments like Lavieri’s are what the Supreme Court is looking for.
“The Supreme Court published the proposed rules because they want to get the input of people who may have a special interest, like attorneys or people who are in that sort of business,” McBrien said.
The Cyber Court was created in 2001. It has jurisdiction over business and commercial actions, including those involving information technology, software or Web site development, and maintenance or hosting.
The proposed rules are posted for comments on the Michigan Supreme Court’s Web site, www.courts.michigan.gov/supremecourt, until Oct. 1. The court will also hold a public hearing on the subject. No date has been set.
© 2002, Capital News Service, Michigan State University School of Journalism
By AUDREY L. BARNEY