The Michigan Cyber Court: A Bold Experiment in the Development of the First Public Virtual CourthouseThe Michigan Cyber Court: A Bold Experiment in the Development of the First Public Virtual Courthouse

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Volume 4, Issue 1 (Jun 2012)

The Virtual Magistrate (“VMAG”) project was the first pioneer to grapple with notions of a fully virtual private court, but it was unsuccessful in attracting interested disputants or in achieving its goal of serving as a conflict resolution portal for the online community. Will the Michigan Cyber Court end up as just another quirky footnote in the history of online dispute resolution (“ODR”), or can it play a substantive and valuable role in the development of fully virtual courts? The answer to this question depends largely upon whether or not the pilot program can attract enough litigants so that the pilot can collect sufficient data to provide useful insights into the advantages and disadvantages of a fully virtual court.

This article will examine the proposed objectives and procedures for Michigan’s public virtual courtroom project, including a review of the enacting legislation and the new draft rules of Cyber Court practice. By revisiting the failed VMAG project, this article will consider some of the issues that its demise poses for the nascent Michigan Cyber Court. This article will summarize some of the main barriers facing the new Cyber Court that may stymie its efforts to serve as a public laboratory for virtual court technologies. Finally, this article will conclude with recommendations on how Michigan’s pilot program might overcome initial reluctance to use its services and promote party participation in the Cyber Court.

Lucille M. Ponte, The Michigan Cyber Court: A Bold Experiment in the Development of the First Public Virtual Courthouse, 4 N.C. J.L. & Tech. 51 (2002), available at http://cite.ncjolt.org/4NCJLTech51.

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