Article: Liberty, Justice, and Legal Automata (Lauritsen 2013)
This article, by Mark Lauritsen @marclauritsen (twitter.com), expands on the analysis begun by the author in a computer science journal piece called Are We Free To Code The Law? The focus there was whether interactive online services for legal self-helpers can be prohibited as the unauthorized practice of law. Put more generally, how should we legal automata be regulated? Do they serve justice? Are people at liberty to create and distribute them? The author writes, few would contend nowadays that attempts to suppress books, pamphlets, or speeches on how the legal system works, and what forms one needs to interact with it, would pass constitutional muster in the United States. Is restricting the creation and distribution of software within the legitimate scope of state action? Is providing software that helps people meet their legal needs and activity that government can prohibit? This article explores ways in which software-based legal assistance systems can be understood for the purposes of public policy and First Amendment analyses.