In this electronic age, technology is everywhere. So it was perhaps inevitable, and welcome to most, that the common thread running through much of the Third Circuit Judicial Conference, which began yesterday in Lancaster, PA and concludes tomorrow, is technology.
One of yesterday’s sessions addressed “Twitter in the Court: Social Media Issues for Judges, Lawyers and Jurors.” Last night’s keynote address was delivered by former Homeland Security Secretary (and former Third Circuit Judge) Michael Chertoff. His 25-minute presentation offered many questions about whether and to what extent traditional legal rules should be altered to account for the fact that, in today’s world, a colossal amount of information about each of us is available, aggregatable, and permanently archivable, among other ramifications of new technologies.
Sessions on the theme of technology at today’s proceedings included “Technology and Individual Rights: Friends or Foes?,” “It’s Not Just About the Money: Technology, Social Media and Rapid Changes in Bankruptcy Practice,” “Investigation and Trial Use of Digital Evidence,” and “Campus Free Speech, Cyber Communication, and the First Amendment.” But there were useful non-tech sessions as well. These included, among other offerings, “Current Issues in Class Actions: Ascertainability and Proposed Changes to Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure” (which turned out, as Judge Scirica, the moderator, warned attendees at the outset would be the case, not to address ascertainability issue at all), “Reentry Around the Circuit,” and “The Repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in the military, featuring another former Homeland Security Secretary, Jeh C. Johnson, my law school classmate.
The Conference is an excellent opportunity not only to learn (and to get some CLE credits, including ethics credits from tomorrow’s “Professional Ethics in the Appellate Process”), but also to see old friends, make new ones, and mingle with judges. Not a bad way to spend a few days.