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Thursday, February 29, 2024

CJ cites role of legal researchers in justice system

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Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo has extolled the judiciary’s legal researchers, saying their work makes it easier and expeditious for judges to resolve cases.

In a speech before more than 300 legal researchers during their 14th Biennial National Convention and Seminar at the Palacio del Sur Convention Center in Marcian Garden Hotel, Zamboanga City, Gesmundo stressed that the five-year Strategic Plan for Judicial Innovations (SPJI) which would “significantly improve the productivity of the courts,” came to fruition also due to the work done by court legal researchers.

The three-day convention that started last Feb. 15 has for its theme “Strengthening Legal Research Amidst Challenges and Adversities.”

The participants are officers and members of the Court Legal Researchers Association of the Philippines (CLERAP).

“The SPJI will, among others, allow us to ride this wave of technological advancement, capitalizing on artificial intelligence (AI) not just for court operations, but also for legal research. This, in turn, will facilitate the speedy disposition of cases,” Gesmundo said.

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“As the SPJI notes, in other jurisdictions, AI-powered applications are already being used in two particular areas of law and the administration of justice — AI-enabled transcription to support court stenography, and AI-powered tools to aid legal researchers,” the top magistrate added.

The Chief Justice described court legal research as “so often like looking for a needle in haystacks upon haystacks and AI could be the magnet that makes that search faster and easier, to the benefit of the people that we ultimately serve.”

“Through artificial intelligence, the SPJI will enable faster and easier access to legal references, and will usher in the redevelopment of the Judiciary ELibrary, which will include AI-enabled tech to improve its legal research capabilities,” he said.

According to him, “through natural language processing – the same technology behind ChatGPT– we will install a search engine that will provide more accurate and reliable results; using machine learning, search algorithms will constantly self-improve based on the feedback of users.”

Gesmundo stressed that AI-enabled tech will also generate analysis based on words and phrases, including their context, from previous cases or legal precedents, and predict and suggest possible outcomes for new cases.”

Nonetheless, the Chief Justice urged the legal researchers “to fully embrace technology in this undertaking and in the performance of your duties.”

“Harness it to work more efficiently and expeditiously and invest in the skills and resources needed to enable the shift that we envision. Be active agents of reform, bearing in mind that these innovations are meant not to supplant us, but to support us, and, in turn, those who rely on us and our work,” he said.

Associate Justice Ramon Paul. Hernando stressed the value of court legal researchers. He said: “Legal research is the foundation and an essential aspect of justice. It examines applicable law, relevant opinions, and ideas.”

Associate Justice Antonio T. Kho Jr., on the other hand, referred to court legal researchers as “battle-hardened warriors whose wisdom and experience will be useful in the crafting of policies and protocols for the betterment of the whole judiciary.”

Deputy clerk of court and chief technology officer Jed Sherwin Uy gave a presentation on the SC’s plans for modernization of court processes, including the Human Resource Information System (HRIS) and the Financial Management Information System (FMIS).

The modernized HRIS, targeted to be rolled out in the first and second-level courts within the last quarter of 2023, will “provide a facility to submit and receive job applications online, see their status, and see where they are pending.”

The upgraded FMIS, on the other hand, will allow “the finance offices to quickly compute salaries and deductions based on prevailing schedules, process them individually as they come instead of doing per batch, and timely release salaries and allowances, and retirement benefits.”

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