Ethics Opinion: Judges Must Keep up with Advancing Technology

Ethics Opinion: Judges Must Keep up with Advancing Technology

Judges have a duty to keep up with advancing technology, “including but not limited to artificial intelligence,” according to a new ethics opinion issued by the State Bar of Michigan’s Standing Committee on Judicial Ethics.

The opinion, JI-155, notes that the increasing use of artificial intelligence and other technological advancements require judicial officers to understand how these tools will affect their conduct and docket.

“AI is becoming more advanced every day and is rapidly integrating within the judicial system, which requires continual thought and ethical assessment of the use, risks, and benefits of each tool,” the opinion states. “The most important thing courts can do today is to ask the right questions and place their analysis and application of how they reached their conclusion on the record.”

Knowing and understanding technology is an ethical responsibility for all attorneys in Michigan. The Michigan Supreme Court modified the Rules of Professional Conduct to include tech competency effective January 2020.

The opinion goes on to point out that AI can be both an asset in the courtroom and legal profession, but it can also be misused. 

“As the use of technology increases, so does the requirement to maintain competence in what is available, how it is used, and whether the use of the technology in question would affect a judicial decision,” the opinion reads. 

The State Bar of Michigan offers training and information on technology competency through its Practice Management Resource Center. Tech competency resources include webinars, checklists, guides and more. 

Read the full opinion here

Posted November 8, 2023