As there have been a lot of questions relating the topic of AI Judge, we have to explain that the article about Estonian project of designing a "Robot/Judge" in Wired from 25th of March 2019, is misleading. There hasn`t been that kind of project or even an ambition in Estonian public sector.
Estonian Ministry of Justice does not develop AI robot judge for small claims procedure nor general court procedures to replace the human judge. We are still searching for ICT means to make court’s workload, including administrative burden more bearable.
More precisely, Ministry of Justice is looking for opportunities for optimization and automatization of court’s procedural steps in every types of procedures, including procedural decisions where possible. We see that paper and electronic file based proceeding will be partly replaced with data based proceeding (no need for paper nor electronic documents where data is enough and data is going to have a legal meaning, files will be just informative to notice people about court procedural steps who do not use electronic means to reach information, e.g. Public e-file). One of the aims is that all court cases are held digitally, 1) no paper files and 2) no unnecessary electronic files are prepared and processes will be optimized and automatized as much as possible.
There is a plan to automatize Estonian national order for payment procedure, which is adjudicated only in one specific department of one specific courthouse. Today the proceeding is carried out by court officials and existing system enables to monitor deadlines and standings, generating all documents, sending out of all documents. The system has partly manual controls (debtor’s addresses and other contacts). Signing for automatically generated documents is not needed, there are no files on paper and commutation with creditors is held electronically. Around 50% from all civil cases are proceeded in payment order department. Order for payment procedure is a simple procedure with few defined procedural steps and we see that it could be autonomous or automatized in the future. You can see more about order for payment procedure from chapter 49 of Code of Civil Procedure, available in English.
Ministry of Justice is also interested of AI projects and will look opportunities where AI could be useful and does not exclude the possibility to use the AI solutions in the future to assist judges and court officials. At the moment we have two ongoing software deveolpment projects where machine learning is used: transcription project for the court hearings and anonymization of the court decision.