Our anchor story this week, “Bar Tech,” takes lawyers on a ride to the frontiers of legal technology, with great new products and services they can use to enhance their practices and put tech to work for their clients.
Then there is the U.S. Supreme Court.
The justices take a beating when it comes to technology.
Hopelessly behind the times…out of touch…techno-fogeys.
And those are just the nice things that people say.
Reuters reported that after arguments last month in a case involving an online television startup called Aereo, the sniffing and guffawing was loud.
One 20-something legal blogger snarked, “Everyone who’s anyone inside that courtroom is most likely an incompetent Luddite.”
Granted, the various justices don’t do themselves any favors.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor called a certain video-rental business “Netflick.”
Justice Antonin Scalia didn’t seem to know that HBO was a for-pay cable service.
And the goofs haven’t been limited to the Aereo arguments.
Justice Anthony Kennedy once said that complicated software coding could be handled by “any computer group of people sitting around a coffee shop” over a weekend. Gonna take a lot of coffee, if that’s the case.
And Chief Justice John Roberts also has struggled with all this new-fangled stuff. In a case about the expectation of privacy in dirty text messages, he asked counsel the difference “between e-mail and a pager.” Really.
After the Aereo arguments, Mash able.com ranked the justices by their tech savvy in the case.
Despite the “Netflick” faux pas, Sotomayor was number one. Scalia, for thinking that HBO was a free service available to anyone, was last. Justice Clarence Thomas was not ranked, Mashable said, because “we have no definite proof he was there, but can assume so because nobody said he was missing.”
The good news: Presumably all these tech matters are fully briefed and that the justices can learn what they need about the business to make an informed and intelligent decision. After all, they do that in other types of complicated cases.
Maybe their clerks can give them a crash-course on some of the devices and services available. They have value, not just for their legal research.
As for Scalia, though, the remedy is clear: He needs to get a Netflick account and rent a couple of seasons of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” or “Boardwalk Empire.” When they ask for his credit card number, he should get it.