Issue 5.3 The VirtualCourthouse

VirtualCourthouse; Issue 5.3
The VirtualCourthouse

Judge Arthur M. Monty Ahalt РJune 2000

This Article was first published in the Prince George’s County, Maryland Journal/Newsletter

VIRTUALcourthouse.com will soon become a reality. It is anticipated that a pilot will be underway the summer of 2000.

The Vision: A place, unconstrained by time, space, media or location, which enables individuals to resolve their disputes with competent neutrals through diverse methods of alternative and traditional dispute resolution fairly, justly, impartially and expeditiously.

The Mission: To become the world’s largest and most efficient private or public independent dispute resolution organization.

Arbitrators: Arbitrators will be provided an internet based place to advertise their services, administer their business, conduct an arbitration, post their decisions and have the quality of their services rated by the parties and their lawyers.

Methods of Arbitration: Full arbitration. Evidence is presented to an arbitrator, the parties argue the case and the arbitrator renders a decision.

Mediation. A neutral talks to the parties separately or together, pointing out strengths and weaknesses of each party’s case in an effort to affect a consensual compromise solution.

Neutral case evaluation. The parties submit their facts and arguments in summary fashion to a neutral who gives an opinion about the likely outcome if the case were tried by a Judge or jury.

Shadow Jury. The parties present their facts and arguments in summary fashion to a jury of independents to ascertain the value of the case.

Panel of subject matter experts. The parties select a panel of arbitrators who have industry experience in the subject matter area of the dispute. The panel hears the evidence and arguments and renders a decision.

Bid Offer confidential. The plaintiff makes a money demand (confidential) and the defendant makes an offer (confidential); the parties define the rule-arithmetic which settles the case. For instance the parties can agree that if they are within 20 percent, 15 percent, or 10 percent then the case is settled for the average of the two numbers. The parties can agree to make 1, 2 or 3 tries.

Baseball. The parties present their case in summary fashion to a neutral and make a confidential final offer. The neutral renders a decision and the case is settled for the party’s number which is closest to the arbitrator’s number; the losing party pays for the cost of arbitration

Posting claim. A party may post a claim and an offer to arbitrate. VirtualCourthouse will notify the other party of the offer to arbitrate and the parties can negotiate an agreement to arbitrate.

Media for Arbitration: Arbitrators, the parties and their lawyers will be able to select the appropriate Internet on-line media to facilitate the method of arbitration selected.

Face to face. The parties will be able to schedule, on the Internet, a traditional arbitration hearing and file arbitration papers online.

Paper only. The parties will be able to file arbitration claims, arguments and exhibits online. The arbitrator will file a written decision online.

Interactive Word. The parties will be able to interactively present their case in a chat room setting where the arbitrator can ask written question and receive answers from the parties.

Interactive Voice. The parties will be able to present their case to an arbitrator through oral persuasion on the Internet.

Interactive Video. The parties will be able to present the case to an arbitrator using full real time video broadcast quality on the Internet.

Pilot Arbitrators Needed. Any arbitrators or lawyers wishing to participate in the pilot should contact Arthur M. Ahalt at amahalt@virtualcourthouse.com.

JusticeLink-CourtLink: A Vision for the Future: As JusticeLink and CourtLink announced their merger a new vision has evolved for the information age and the legal industry. (See www.justicelink.com and www.courtlink.com ).

JusticeLink is an Internet provider of electronic filing of court documents for the legal community and provides the pathway for information going into the courts. CourtLink, on the other hand, is a provider of electronic public access to court records. The new combined company will thus provide a pathway of information into the courts and a pathway of information out of the courts.

Information in–Information out. This new combined service will reduce time, costs and the resources required to retrieve information from and file documents in the nation’s 16,000 courts. The new company will transform the current methodology of the transfer of information from customer to supplier by providing an online Internet based exchange. Thus all the participants in the dispute resolution process and all of the individuals and institutions who need the information related to the process of dispute resolution will be able to access that information any time any where.

The new company will be headquartered in Bellevue (Seattle), Washington, with regional offices in Dallas, Texas; San Francisco, California; Washington, D.C.; and Denver, Colorado. JusticeLink currently has electronic filing projects in Jefferson County, Texas; Montgomery County, Texas; El Paso, Texas; San Francisco, California; San Diego, California; and Fulton County, Georgia. Projects will soon commence in Baltimore Circuit Court, the Washington D.C., Superior Court; Wilmington, Delaware; and Cleveland, Ohio.

CourtLink currently provides electronic public access to almost all of the Federal District Courts and the Federal Bankruptcy Courts; Oregon; Washington; New York (selected counties); North Carolina (selected counties); Texas (selected counties); Prince Georges County, Maryland; and Riverside, California.

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