Professor Silverman discusses the machines that have been taking up positions in the court houses for more than a quarter of a century. These machines are becoming an integrated network integral to the workings of the court. With the assistance of the machines, the myriad and diverse members of the justice and public safety communities together with the public will evolve into a single complex whole that could dedicate itself to creating a more humane and just society comprised of better informed individuals to whom they are genuinely accountable. There are those who fear the machines, afraid that personal privacy is doomed with public access to court records. Professor Silverman explains how this fear is unwarranted. In the first part of the article he introduces the reader to this technology (Part II) and its likely role in evolving justice information systems (Parts I and III). In the second half of the article, Professor Silverman explores the debate over whether the public should be permitted access to court records over the Internet. After explaining the origins, history, and principal sides of this debate (Part IV), he argues, first, that when used properly, XML permits the public to have access to court records over the Internet while promoting public safety and protecting personal security (Part V) and, second, that the presence of discrediting and embarrassing facts in a case file does not justify limiting public access to court records over the Internet while permitting unlimited public access at the courthouse (Part VI).
Rise of the Machines: Justice Information Systems and the Question of Public Access to Court Records over the Internet, 79 WASH. L. REV. 175