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The Impact of Artificial Intelligence on the Right to a Fair Trial: Towards a Robot Judge?

Jasper Ulenaers ORCID logo EMAIL logo

Abstract

This paper seeks to examine the potential influences AI may have on the right to a fair trial when it is used in the courtroom. Essentially, AI systems can assume two roles in the courtroom. On the one hand, “AI assistants” can support judges in their decision-making process by predicting and preparing judicial decisions; on the other hand, “robot judges” can replace human judges and decide cases autonomously in fully automated court proceedings. Both roles will be tested against the requirements of the right to a fair trial as protected by Article 6 ECHR.

An important element in this test is the role that a human judge plays in legal proceedings. As the justice system is a social process, the AI assistant is preferred to a situation in which a robot judge would completely replace human judges. Based on extensive literature, various examples and case studies, this paper concludes that the use of AI assistants can better serve legitimacy and guarantee a fair trial.


Corresponding author: Jasper Ulenaers LL.M., Universität Hamburg Fakultät für Rechtswissenschaft, Hamburg, Germany, E-mail:

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Published Online: 2020-07-21

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