Chief Justice Gesmundo: SC to Use AI-powered Tools to Improve Court Legal Research
February 17, 2023
Chief Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo gives the keynote address on the first day of the 14th Biennial National Convention and Seminar of the Court Legal Researchers Association of the Philippines in Zamboanga City. (Courtesy of the Supreme Court Public Information Office)
“Napakahalaga ng court legal researchers sapagkat sa inyo umaasa ang mga hukom. Kapag magaling ang researcher ng judge, magaling siyang makakapag-desisyon.”
Thus, remarked Chief Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo, expressing gratitude to court legal researchers during his keynote speech on the first day of the 14th Biennial National Convention and Seminar of the Court Legal Researchers Association of the Philippines (CLERAP), held at the Palacio del Sur Convention Center, Marcian Garden Hotel, Zamboanga City on February 15, 2023.
The three-day convention, with the theme “Strengthening Legal Research Amidst Challenges and Adversities,” gathered over 300 legal researchers from trial courts in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.
The Chief Justice also shared how the Supreme Court’s blueprint for judicial reform, the Strategic Plan for Judicial Innovations 2022-2027 or the SPJI, can significantly improve the productivity of the courts, including the work done by court legal researchers.
“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,” said Chief Justice Gesmundo.
The Chief Justice added, “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, which could clearly benefit the Philippine judiciary as well—AI-enabled transcription to support court stenography, and AI-powered tools to aid legal researchers.”
“Court legal research is 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,” said the Chief Justice Gesmundo.
Through artificial intelligence, “the SPJI will enable faster and easier access to legal references. It will usher in the redevelopment of the Judiciary E-Library, which will include AI-enabled tech to improve its legal research capabilities,” said the Chief Justice.
The Chief Justice added that “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. 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.”
Chief Justice Gesmundo concluded, “Today I call on you 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.”
Also speaking on the first day of the CLERAP Convention was Associate Justice Ramon Paul L. Hernando, who stressed the value of court legal researchers: “Legal research is the foundation and an essential aspect of justice. It examines applicable law, relevant opinions, and ideas.”
In addition, Justice Hernando, who is the Chairperson of the 2023 Bar Examinations, provided updates on the Bar Exam for the benefit of aspiring lawyers among the court legal researchers.
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.” Justice Kho also noted how technological advancements have posed new challenges for court legal researchers, such as “how to sift through a ton of information and to evaluate, assess, and interpret the reliability and quality of online resources and manage vast amounts of information.”
Justice Kho ended his remarks by stressing the significant role of court legal researchers in the success of the SPJI. “Court legal researchers should be in lockstep with the Court’s technology-driven improvements,” said the Justice.
Deputy Clerk of Court and Chief Technology Officer Atty. Jed Sherwin G. Uy also gave a presentation on the Supreme Court’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. Employees of the Judiciary and those who have previously submitted their applications online would no longer need to resubmit the same set of documentary requirements as the Court would already have in its possession this information,” said Atty. Uy.
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.”
Other modernization plans of the Supreme Court include the upgrading of the Supreme Court E-Library to offer an integrated library management system covering libraries of the tertiary courts and those being maintained in various halls of justice. This will be followed by equipping the E-library with artificial intelligence that can enable thorough and comprehensive legal research.
The training courses offered by the Philippine Judicial Academy (PHILJA) will also be made available online through the PHILJA Learning Management System (LMS). “The LMS will allow justices, judges, court officials, and personnel to access and/or attend courses “on-demand” at our most convenient time, regardless of our location. This will also empower us to have complete control of our time and allow us to focus on our duties when needed,” said Atty. Uy.
Finally, with the launch of the Judiciary Electronic Payment Solution or JEPS, “court fees may now be assessed uniformly and paid online using any smart device, anytime, anywhere,” said Atty. Uy. (Courtesy of the Supreme Court Public Information Office)
Supreme Court Associate Justice Ramon Paul L. Hernando discusses the 2023 Bar Examinations before court legal researchers on the first day of the 14th Biennial National Convention and Seminar of the Court Legal Researchers Association of the Philippines in Zamboanga City. (Courtesy of the Supreme Court Public Information Office)
Deputy Clerk of Court and Chief Technology Officer Atty. Jed Sherwin G. Uy shares with court legal researchers the Supreme Court’s modernization plans on the first day of the 14th Biennial National Convention and Seminar of the Court Legal Researchers Association of the Philippines in Zamboanga City. (Courtesy of the Supreme Court Public Information Office)