Chief Justice Gesmundo Speaks on Technology-Driven PH Judiciary Before American Association of Judges
September 15, 2023
Chief Justice Gesmundo highlighted the initiatives of the Philippine Supreme Court utilizing technological advancements at the 2023 American Judges Association 62nd Annual Conference held in Honolulu, Hawaii on September 13, 2023 (Philippine Standard Time).
In one of the sessions titled “Tech Talk with the Chiefs” where he was invited as one of the featured speakers alongside Chief Justice Robert Torres of the Supreme Court of Guam, the Chief Justices had an informative conversation about technology and its challenges and opportunities in their respective judiciaries. They shared their insights and experiences on modern technology in the courts and they provided a thought-provoking and insightful discussion about the future of technology in the judicial system.
Chief Justice Gesmundo brought to the fore the Court’s Strategic Plan for Judicial Innovations 2022-2027 (SPJI), the Judiciary’s blueprint for digital transformation and the steps that the Court has taken to utilize modern technology to improve court efficiency and access to justice.
Chief Justice Gesmundo shared the “three pillars for a successful digital transformation: 60% people, 20% process, and 20% technology.” He emphasized that what is critical are the people’s mindset and the culture of transformation and change since people have the highest share in this formula. “To be able to successfully transform digitally, we must build on the strategic alignment towards the initiative, develop capabilities needed to adapt to the change, build and maintain a culture that sustains the change,” he explained.
Chief Justice Gesmundo also identified the Philippine Judiciary’s best practices adopted in its digital transformation journey. According to the Chief Justice, it starts with identifying a business strategy: “This means understanding the peculiar challenges and opportunities presented to the Philippine Judiciary and charting a course that leverages the power of technology to achieve efficiency, innovation, and access.” He emphasized that behind every successful digital transformation is a well-defined roadmap that aligns with the core mandate of the organization. The SPJI outlines the roadmap for the country’s judicial development.
Chief Justice Gesmundo further shared what he identified as the very backbone of the judicial system: the court employees. “By involving them at the outset, we empower our employees to be change drivers as we tap into their expertise, creating a collaborative environment where ideas are co-created,” he said.
Chief Justice Gesmundo also recognized the fear of irrelevance when confronted with the prospect of digital transformation, especially due to lack of knowledge or skillset. He thus underscored that “the Philippine Judiciary is investing in various training initiatives, workshops, and resources to equip not only our employees but also members of the Bar with the requisite tools and skillsets needed to thrive in this digital era.”
The Chief Justice likewise shared the latest updates on technological advancements that the Court has adopted, namely: the Judiciary e-Payment Solution or JePS; a Digitalized Benchbook; the Philippine Judiciary 365; the Philippine Judicial Academy Learning Management System; the Human Resource Management System; the Financial Management Information System; Bar Applicant Registration Information System and Tech Assistance or BARISTA; eFiling under the eCourt System version 2.0; and Artificial Intelligence (AI) for Court Operations.
With the rapid pace of technological advancement, however, Chief Justice Gesmundo mentioned issues that Philippine courts may face such as: cybercrimes; handling digital evidence; challenges on jurisdiction in the digital realm; integration of LegalTech tools in court processes; expert witnesses in cases involving complex technological concepts; the use of AI algorithms in determining criminal sentences, considering issues of transparency, accountability, and fairness; the utilization of AI tools for legal research; algorithmic accountability; and the legality and authenticity of AI-generated content.
Chief Justice Gesmundo concluded his talk by emphasizing that “these challenges underscore the need of the Philippine Judiciary to remain adaptable, invest in technology infrastructure, and develop legal frameworks that align with the digital age while adhering to principles of justice, equity, and due process.”
For his part, Chief Justice Torres touched on generative AI and how it can be used in the Judiciary, including its benefits and potential challenges. He discussed that generative AI may be utilized in the justice system in predicting case outcomes, better assistance to litigants, review legal documents, automate legal research, provide better training to the legal community, and assist in making judicial decisions.
The two Chief Justices agreed that the use of generative AI in the Judiciary should be done responsibly and users should be cautious on its possible misuse, such as generating fake documents, promoting lazy lawyering, and having poorly managed AI tools.
The Chief Justices discussed that courts should be aware that AI programs exist and must ensure that appropriate data governance are in place to properly apply and regulate AI tools. They also emphasized that appropriate uses of generative AI should be promoted and there must be proper feedback on the effectiveness of these programs for the judiciary.
The Philippine Delegation was led by Chief Justice Gesmundo and Associate Justice Jose Midas P. Marquez. Joining them were Deputy Clerk of Court and Chief Technology Officer Atty. Jed Sherwin G. Uy; Atty. Antonio Caesar R. Manila, Judicial Staff Head, Office of the Chief Justice; and second- level trial court judges.
The Conference, themed “Innovative Courts for a Modern Judiciary,” commenced on September 9, 2023 and will conclude on September 14, 2023 (Hawaii Standard Time). (Courtesy of the Supreme Court Public Information Office)
Chief Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo (second from right) and Associate Justice Jose Midas P. Marquez (leftmost) pose for posterity with Chief Justice Robert Torres of the Supreme Court of Guam (rightmost) and Magistrate Judge Benjamin C. Sison, Jr. of the Superior Court of Guam (second from left) on September 13, 2023 (Philippine Standard Time) at the 62nd Annual Conference of the 2023 American Judges Association. (Courtesy of the Supreme Court Public Information Office)