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SanLuisObispo.com

 

August 1, 2005

 

Experts compile tech guidelines for judges

 

JENNIFER HOLLAND

Associated Press

 

CHARLESTON, S.C. - Trial judges across the country are seeing more election challenges, especially as new voting technology gains widespread use, a panel of judges and law experts said Monday.

 

"It raises new issues," said Davison Douglas, a law professor at William and Mary School of Law. "As we move into new ways of voting, there are going to be new sets of issues."

 

In the last 10 years, election law cases have increased fivefold, Douglas said.

 

That's why experts are compiling a massive book of guidelines to help tackle cases dealing with everything from electronic voting machines to absentee ballots, Douglas told those gathered at the annual meeting of the Conference of Chief Justices and Conference of State Court Administrators.

 

"The problem is a trial court judge sees so many types of cases, they're not experts in a lot of what comes before them," Douglas said. The book's "goal really is for a judge anywhere in the United States to have a starting point to educate themselves."

 

Technology is also helping open the doors to courthouses across the country - for good or ill.

 

Better access to court records can pose problems, such as the posting of Social Security numbers, or the addresses of victims online for public consumption.

 

"Most court cases include enormous amounts of personal information," said Indiana Chief Justice Randall Shepard. "How you balance that with the public's right to know is very tricky.

 

"You want the Social Security numbers of people paying child support, but you don't want them in the hands of the identity thieves," Shepard said.

 

California's Chief Justice Ronald George he is proud his state allows citizens to forgo assistance from an attorney and handle their own cases - such as divorce - with court access through the Internet.

 

2005 AP Wire and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.

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