Did you know that Michigan has a CYBER COURT, created in law at MCL 600.8001 – 8028 and entered into law in 2002?! As the law says, the purpose of the court is to allow commercial disputes to be resolved with the expertise, technology, and efficiency required by the information age economy. Virtual court facilities are established, allowing court filing and proceedings to be conducted electronically.
In Cyber Court, the only means of a hearing isby electronic communications, such as video and audio conferencing and internet conferencing among the judge and court personnel, parties, witnesses, and other persons necessary to the proceeding. There are special rules for practice and procedure and there is no option to have a trial by jury.
The Cyber Court has concurrent jurisdiction over business or commercial disputes in which the amount in controversy exceeds $25,000.00. These disputes include disputes such as those involving information technology, software, or website development, maintenance, or hosting; as well as those involving the traditional type of business disputes such as the rights or obligations of shareholders, business contract disputes, commercial bank transactions, commercial insurance policies and commercial real property.
Basically, this court system allows parties, lawyers, and witnesses to come to court in a cyber space at any time that the judge determines will suit the interests of all involved; as well as allowing the public to view the proceedings via a webcast and access court documents via the internet. Imagine at 5:00 p.m. in New York, plaintiff’s counsel is deposing her expert witness in London, where it is 1:00 a.m. who is giving key testimony of a copyright infringement claim raised in the plaintiff’s complaint that was filed electronically with the court. The expert witness is using a power point presentation streamed in the corner of the videoconferencing screen. Opposing counsel, in his Ohio office, prepares for cross-examination with his staff while the judge in Michigan presides over the proceedings ruling on objections.
The Michigan Cyber Court is the nation’s first public and fully virtual court and one wonders whether it will end up a footnote in history. Where are these litigants and have there been enough of them to let us decide its fate?