Ruling From the Bench

Inspiration can come from almost anywhere. I was on vacation last week when I came across this:

No, that’s not a real person. It’s someone’s idea of art and, if you can’t read it, the sign says “Sidewalk Judge.”

What a great idea!

We should be posting judges all around our cities – particularly in high-crime and repeated-accident areas – to render instant judgment. Rather than spending years in court and wasting enormous sums of money on litigation, a judge on the scene can render instant judgment, ruling from a bench.

You don’t have to build courthouses. Each bench can be staffed 24 hours a day. If need be, passersby can be recruited as jurors.

And, on top of that, bad behavior is discouraged because, well, there’s someone sitting there judging you.

Crime goes down and employment for judges goes up.

As I’ve noted before, we need creative ways to employ human beings while machines do everything we used to do. Widespread block-by-block judging – perhaps even judging within building hallways – can employ lots of people.

Now I know what some of you may be thinking: cameras and/or judicial robots could do this job just as well. That may be true, but people are going to be hanging around on benches without jobs anyway. Might as well give them something to do.

Speaking of robots, an odd statement appeared in a press release issued last week by the manufacturer of Roombas. To wit: “iRobot employs more than 500 persons in the United States who are dedicated to designing and building robots that empower people to do more.”

Clearly this is a lie. Roombas empower people to do less.

I’m guessing a robot wrote that press release to lull humanity into a false sense of security.

There may be a ray of hope, however. The press release was about iRobot filing a bunch of patent infringement lawsuits against other robotics companies.

If robots get tied up in litigation against each other, they could be too preoccupied to take our jobs.

More tech. I know this is completely unfair and probably completely unlikely but I’m picturing it anyway – bar exams exploding without warning and burning would-be lawyers.

That’s what went through my mind in light of the news reports last week that the Law School Admission Council, Inc. is going to run a practice Law School Admission Test using Samsung tablets instead of paper and pencil.

It’s probably safe and it’s probably less likely to be hacked since stealing pieces of paper takes less technical expertise, but you just know there are going to be interesting problems.

The one I’m looking forward to is the age discrimination class action on behalf of older law students who can’t handle computers or can’t get their fingers to hit the right spots on those tiny screens.

I do see a pretty great upside to this though – if you finish your exam early, you can play games.

Think massively multiplayer online law students rampaging through an imaginary court system filled with orcs, demons and hard-line political judges after taking the tests. It’s educational, it builds team-player technique, and there’s got to be great loot.

The future might be fun after all.

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