Michigan legislature set to officially kill off its cyber court?

Cross-posted at Court Technology Bulletin

Back in 2001 amid another recession, Michigan’s legislature made an attempt to address the issue of technology-related litigation by authorizing the creation of a “Cyber Court”, the purpose of which was (MCL 600.8001(2)) to:

(a) Establish judicial structures that will help to strengthen and revitalize the economy of this state.
(b) Allow business or commercial disputes to be resolved with the expertise, technology, and efficiency required by the information age economy.
(c) Assist the judiciary in responding to the rapid expansion of information technology in this state.
(d) Establish a technology-rich system to serve the needs of a judicial system operating in a global economy.
(e) Maintain the integrity of the judicial system while applying new technologies to judicial proceedings.
(f) Supplement other state programs designed to make the state attractive to technology-driven companies.
(g) Permit alternative dispute resolution mechanisms to benefit from the technology changes.
(h) Establish virtual courtroom facilities, and allow the conducting of court proceedings electronically and the electronic filing of documents.

The cyber court’s sponsor envisioned it as the ‘‘first completely electronic court to resolve commercial transactions effectively, expeditiously, and efficiently, saving time and cost normally associated with the traditional litigation model.’’ The court was envisioned as having virtual ADR & court sessions, complete e-filing and e-storage, etc.

The cyber court program itself, however, never took off, due to lack of funding and insufficient technology. An article last year in Michigan Lawyers Weekly gave indications that the program might be revived.

Such efforts appear to be ending however with the passage last week in the Michigan House of HB 5128. As introduced, HB 5128 would have added a new section in the state’s existing law (Chapter 10B of the Revised judicature act of 1961) to create business courts within the state’s existing circuit courts. A committee amendment instead opted to repeal all the language related to Cyber Courts (Chapter 80 of the Revised judicature act of 1961) and replace with the Business Court authorization.

HB 5128, as amended, was approved by the House on June 14 on a 103-7 vote.