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The Courts Government News

Cyber-Court in Michigan? 97

Mr. Obvious writes: "Probably a lot of people are sending in this link, but there's an interesting article over at the NY Times (free registration still required, I believe) about how the Gov. of Mich. wants to set-up a "cybercourt" real soon, in the hope of attracting business to the wet-and-soggy-state where I once lived, long, long ago. So, my question is: Does anyone else really think that the existence of a cyber-court would attract start-ups to Detroit, Grand Rapids or Kalamazoo? Somehow, I just can't see it, but I haven't chosen a location for a start-up lately, so maybe I'm just out of touch?"
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Cyber-Court in Michigan?

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Normally, you set a start-up up where there's electricity. Kalamazoo is way ahead of certain competition in this regard. FP?
  • The reference to not having chosen a location for a start-up was a little joke/reality check. The author admitted that he didn't know about that sort of thing since he hadn't done it.

    Now settle down and go have some Sugar Smacks.
  • Is there any real incentive for a tech startup to locate here?

    Michigan winters. It's too d---ed cold to do anything other than code then, anyway. Look what Finnish winters did for Linux...

    Actually, the Pacific Northwest probably wins best coding weather. Rain doesn't keep you from going to the office, but it does keep you from wanting to be outside. I've said before that basing Microsoft in Redmond is Mr. Gates' smartest decision ever...
  • Bankruptcy is conducted exclusively in federal court.
  • by hawk ( 1151 ) <> on Thursday February 22, 2001 @05:52AM (#412237) Journal
    I am a lawyer, but this is not legal advice. Contact an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction if you need some.

    HIstory suggests that it could be a draw. In particular, look at Delaware, which has separate Chancery Courts for business disputes (but don't confuse these with the historical Chancery Courts . . .). This is part of the draw, and and is part of general corporate-friendly climate that draws so many businesses to Delaware for incorporation. Delaware was #1 in the friendly climate for a very long time, and is still a close #2 to Nevada.

    hawk, esq.
  • If Michigan really wants to attract High tech. businesses, they should do it with tax breaks (like Delaware) or support services (like New Jersey), not with courts.
    Like abolishing the property tax and leaving the schools without funding, forcing an emergency sales tax increase?
    The Holland-GR-Lansing-Ann Arbor corridor is actually becoming amazingly high-tech--we have Smith Industries in GR, along with Steelcase and Amway (which have big IT needs). I'm working for a startup here. I have no idea why, but SW Michigan is turning into a happening place. Weather's depressing as all heck, though.
  • Saginaw (north of Flint) has shitty roads. The entire tri-city area does. MI is a great state. Beautiful, but it relied too much on the automotive industry, and that was it's economic downfall. I think Engler is getting desperate. I remember hearing about the whole "Automation Alley", the supposed counterpart to Silicon Valley, at school in MI. Essentially just support industries for the automotive industry.
  • Woah there. San Francisco, which is just north of San Jose, has a great city life. Every day this week I've gone out and done something (now that I got laid off in the great crash of 2001 I have some free time again!) It's a great city to party in, to meet people, and just have fun. And Detroit is a good place to go if you like the city life too. I used to live in MI, and about once a month, would drive down from Mt. Pleasant or Saginaw to party in Detroit.

    I think both CA and MI have their strong points and weak points. But the truth is, I think there's something about the artistic minded/rebellious SF/Berkeley that fuels the startup mindset. As Dave Eggers put it, everyone had some dumb idea, and no one there would tell you yours was doomed. Ann Arbor has something like this, but is it enough?

  • First, we need a better high speed infrastructure. As it stands, getting high speed connections ranges from impossible to ridiculously expensive. If Engler invested in infrastructure, we would be much more likely to attract business.
  • ... a few weeks ago, a guy I knew was arraigned in Livonia, MI via videoconference.
  • One of the beauties of the net is that a business can start up anywhere, as long as they can get the necessary quality of employees connected.

    Your programmers don't have to live in Kalmazoo, they can be in Orlando or Dallas or even Podunk, Arkansas.

    Your lawyers can be in Delaware.

    Your mail-order fullfillment can be in Seattle.

    The modern world is so distributed, you can plunk a business down almost anywhere, and take advantage of lower local standards of living for filling the less-technical positions, or of captive audiences at small local universities for filling the lower-tier technical ones.

    That's how two successful national businesses have managed to grow up out of Ada, Oklahoma, population 24,000.

    (Never mind that both have serious quality-control issues, and one has been found by at least one court to be a scam.)

  • Being in michigan I have many things you cant get in Silicon valley... I live on 6 acres that is on a private lake that is large enough for my 25 foot powerboat. I can spit on the water from by deck, and I can come home, strip on the way from the car to the boat and pull out of dock in 3 minutes. all of these things are available to little old underpaid me. While noone in silicon valley can afford what I have. (not is it even available.) Now, in winter, snowmobiles, quads, and 35 minutes to the ski slopes for snowboarding/skiing.

    Michigan? you can live like a king here, and thumb your nose at the siliconites /californites with your super cheap palace on the lake.
  • Article [] without registration.
  • Interesting concept, be interesting to see how they solve authentication/non-repudiation issues, seeing as those are kinda important if this is going to work.

    Though after living here for all 27 years of my life, I question the sanity of anyone wanting to start anything real in this god forsaken place. Everyone involved would go crazy after a couple winters.

    As for Detroit, it's gunna take a hell of alot more than this to transform that giant, soul sucking stink pit of humanity into something that wouldn't be better off as a toxic waste dump. Wait, it already is, thanks to the auto companies that have now abandonded it, leaving us to clean up after their asses.
  • by Royster ( 16042 ) on Thursday February 22, 2001 @05:52AM (#412247) Homepage
    So, Michigan wants to set up a cyber-court, not so that people will move their Internet businesses to that state, but so that Internet businesses will *incorporate* in that state, but not have to physically travel there if they get hauled into court. The analogy to Delaware where there is a special court just for businesses incorporated in the state was made in the article.

    The biggest problem is the division of our laws into state and federal laws. A state court can only decide state cases. Now, many business related cases fall into state courts. The law of contracts is almost entirely state law. Not that I want to make a Federal case out of it or anything, but many disputes in the Internet arena involve Federal and not state law: copyright, trademark, many employment disputes. This court will not handle those cases and the startup will need lawyers present in Michigan to attend any Federal district court cases and at least one attorney present in MI to receive summonses and other legal demands.
  • Amen.

    I moved to the Bay Area just over a year ago from MI, and I've been wanting to go back ever since. I used to think Michigan was a bad place to be...then I lived in Cali. I miss home, but the job market for guys like me (Solaris SysAdmin) just isn't really there. If it were, I'd jump back there in a heartbeat.


  • If you start something in Michigan and you're in need of a killer Solaris SysAdmin who's dying to move back there, come find me. =)

    (bkocik at velocityhsi dot com)


  • What it will probably do is attract a lot of failing .coms to move there so they can go bankrupt in an e-friendly e-nvironment.

    The state will undoubtedly be disappointed when it discovers that it attracted the poor rather than the rich.

  • In fact, it sounds dangerous to set up a business there until the way the court works and makes judgements has been set down and proven out. By setting up there, a business has a strange liability that is unknown.
  • by werdna ( 39029 ) on Thursday February 22, 2001 @05:54AM (#412252) Journal
    Cybercourt here is just a buzzword, used among governors and legislators for PR purposes, much as our marketroids have absconded with "object oriented" and "expert system." A state is sovereign only with respect to its territorial borders, and any extension of that jurisdiction is limited to specific constitutional constraints (under the Due Process Clause). Furthermore, nothing the State can do can extend that jurisdiction to the federal court subject matter that is most likely subject of much high-tech litigation (copyright, patents, trademarks, anti-trust), or to force jurisdiction where a litigant is lawfully entitled to remove to Federal Court.

    That said, ARE THEY NUTS? Can you really, truly imagine that two litigants would find it a GOOD THING to have a complex, high-stakes lawsuit resolved by videoconference? Isn't it nuts enough that two businesses sophisticated enough to have a high-tech, high-stakes lawsuit believe that it would be better to pick six people off the street to resolve it than to settle the dispute themselves?

    In Florida, we teleconference arraignments and some other criminal proceedings, as it is often more convenient to do things that way than to transport defendants from central booking just for an arraignment. Further, it is very common in preliminary hearings and motion practice for out-of-town or out-of-pocket lawyers to teleconference or videoconference?

    But to hold an entire trial by videoconference? To ask a factfinder to judge the credibility of someone based upon their television appearance -- to permit a crafty lawyer to have "technical difficulties" just at the moment his client is losing it on the stand -- to permit all sorts of other mischief? Be real. The trial system is awkward enough as things stand. How does it benefit from being "cyberized?"
  • by laetus ( 45131 ) on Thursday February 22, 2001 @05:29AM (#412253)
    Seems like the idea of streamlining court cases by using technology to file briefs and using video-conferencing for oral arguments can stand on its own, separate of a technology court. Why not extend this to all court cases?

    Also, I agree with the article that is is going to be a jurisdictional nightmare. I mean, just specifying which cases can make into a "technology" court is going to create a plethora of laws in and of itself. Think farming and you think, "old economy," but with bioengineering, would farming cases make it into this new court?

    There's also the question of fairness. Why do technology companies get served up juriprudence on a golden technology tray while other "old economy" companies get to slog their way through the old court system? I think this introduces an anomoly/disruption in the proper flow of business, favoring new economy companies over old. Why train judges just on technology matters? Why not on other disciplines?

    All in all, I think the intent of using technology and training of judges to speed up the slogging pace of the courts is good, but it should be applied universally, not to a specific industry. Otherwise, you're introducing market distortions that shouldn't be there.
  • I agree it will not happen, but let me expand on why it won't.

    I'm a resident of Grand Rapids, MI; and until recently, I worked for companies in this area (I know work as a mobile employee for a nationwide company). The reason why this won't work (at least in the next couple of years) is that Michigan (and more precisely, West Michigan's Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo) is about 2-3 years behind on technology.

    Companies in Michigan are only beginning to see the value of an e-business strategy, and those that have websites rarely have anything except "here's our address, here's our phone number" information on their webpages.

    It's much more attractive for businesses to look at Chicago as a Great Lakes region alternative. Bigger market, more technology, and a stronger foothold in most marketplaces.
  • All your base are belong to us, your honor. Let us bring forth exhibit B. Everyone open their browser and go to
    :-) For the benefit of those who haven't seen it.
  • Not only was that a stupid parody, but you misquoted it. Good one.
  • In fact, it sounds dangerous to set up a business there until the way the court works and makes judgements has been set down and proven out. By setting up there, a business has a strange liability that is unknown.

    My thoughts exactly.

    Also: Attending court proceedings by streaming video? What happens when the ISP suffers congestion? "I object, Your Honor! I can't hear what the witness said. ... Your Honor? ... Your Honor? ... Hello? Is anyone there?"

    And then you get bogus claims of transmission trouble, DOS attacks, cracker attacks on the infrastructure (possibly sponsored by shady law firms), bias toward those with better internet feeds... And that's just the infrastructure of the trial!

    Making it possible to file briefs and the like in a >regular court via the internet would make some sense (if you didn't have to buy into proprietary software and agree to its shrink-wrap contracts to do it). But setting up a new court means you've got a whole new set of procedural issues that are wide open until precedents are litigated. RISK!

    A litigant (especially on the defense side) would be a fool to agree to have his case tried in such a "cybercourt".

    Finally: Establishing a court with a focus on tech is a great business REPELLANT. Why would a company want to move to a state whose main selling point is that it's easier to be sued?
  • you know why it won't matter? michigan has high taxes. they have a state income tax, sales tax, and high gas taxes. along with bad weather. companies will move to states like texas (no stat income tax) or oregon (no sales tax)

    Then why is Silicon Valley in California (state income tax, high sales tax and extremely high gas tax)?

    <JOKE>Of course! It's the CHEESE!</JOKE>

  • you know why it won't matter? michigan has high taxes. they have a state income tax, sales tax, and high gas taxes. along with bad weather. companies will move to states like texas (no stat income tax) or oregon (no sales tax)
  • roads in michigan blow. the states corrupt policy to road repair is to blame.
  • I have lived in Michigan all of my life. If any of you want to bring a start-up here, you can have my spot :)
  • [Running out of house in Kalamazoo, MI]

    We've been mentioned on Slashdot!

    (Sorry, obscure Monty Python ref. I'm from Kazoo, and we take any thrill we can.)
  • Umm, actually, the article said that both parties must agree to be tried in the court, so if you don't like it, just decline.

    However, this makes me question the viability of it all. In many cases, its to one parties favor to stall (i.e., Microsoft antitrust to name an easy one). Sueees generally aren't to eager to pay up if they loose.

  • Because as evidenced over and over, judges are woefully stupid w.r.t. technology cases.

    I think video conferencing and all that business is silly for court cases, especially if its only for technology cases. But I'm all for pickning some handful of judges and having them take a bunch of CS courses or _something_ so that they are at least qualified to talk intelligently about computing and technology with someone of 8th grade comprehension. once thats happened, i think it should be reasonable to allow any technology/computer crime cases to be moved to those districts.

    IANAL, and so on..
  • As a resident of western Michigan, I seriously doubt that the mere existance of a working cyber court would be enough to make a business choose this area over another. However, it would add to the multitude of things that Michigan does on an at least mediocre level. Michigan does have plenty of decent graduate schools, electricity, and an almost endless supply of fresh water. The road system has improved dramatically since the gas tax increase, and the reduction in property tax has almost eliminated the emigration of businesses to friendlier areas. The cyber court won't fix Michigan's problems, but it appears to be a step in the right direction - keeping up the the technology Joneses.
  • It certainly wont attract any important internet companies to Holland, Michigan

  • Being a lifelong Michigander myself..I think that one year in Michigan would convince any startup to get out of here and go somewhere else. Detroit is turning into the next Flint and the rest of the state is gonna be worse than texas (not that there is anything wrong with that) after the CCW laws take effect next summer. I do not see why anyone besides hunters, fishers, and general rednecks would ever want to locate themselves here by choice. Is there any real incentive for a tech startup to locate here?
    Not unless they want a new Ford super huge gas-sucker to cruise the off-road (suburbs) in.
  • Hey, could you do me a favor and give me some details on this? I lived in Livonia for most of my life and worked with the PD there for awhile. I would be interested in learning more of this precident!
  • There are many sitauations in which a company must file legal briefs of some sort (or just legal paperwork) which would be expediated greatly by the use of this "cybercourt" (which, as has bee pointed out before, is nothing but a buzzword for a way to update the manner in which legal documents are handled -- basically now being able to use computer and electronic submission of more things than you used to be able to do).

    I beleive that you are right in the fact that just the "cybercourt" itself will not really attract that many buisinesses (or start-ups for that matter, as that is what they are really trying to attract). What will attract them are the things that you lined out. The low taxes always attract buisinesses, and buisinesses tend to move towards the better educated workforce (or at least the workforce that is capable of learning).

    However, if Michigan was able to offer the low taxes and this cybercourt, then they would be able to attract more distributed style buisinesses and startups. Where you would basically have a few programmers and people scattered about the country with their legal base in Michigan (and the key being that nobody would have to be there, including the lawyers as they would be able to do all of their work over the internet, trasmitting all the things that they need to rather than bringing it in by hand).

    This is a great concept of bringing courts up to date with the modern world, which I hope actually happens in more places than just michigan (though I'm not sure about evidence being presented in streaming video).

  • What a great mailing address (for the checks required to keep the startup running!)
  • I don't know if I'd be interested in working for a startup in MI, but there is at least one such company in Michigan right now. []

    Personally, I would hate working at a startup with all that snow! How are you supposed to wear baggy shorts and a hawaiian shirt when there's two feet of snow on the ground. And what about getting the 30 minutes required contact with the sun-light? Isn't it dark for six months straight up there? ;-)

  • Holy fsckme! I'm crying from laughing so hard. Mod parent up please... that's priceless!

  • Well I planned on doing my start-up in michigan anyways. although I'm biased because I grew up there.

    a few good points about michigan are:

    • Traffic in the worse parts are still better than most parts of SF Bay Area
    • The weather is more intresting than san jose. (lightning is fun to watch, and snow is fun to play in)
    • rent is drastical lower for a place that is much bigger.
    • fun activities. hunting, mountain biking, swimming, fishing. San Jose has no city-life or outdoor-life. Most geeks go to work on the weekends simply out of boredom. (at least I do)
    • plenty of available women. san jose is short of females
    • you can have 2 cats and 4 dogs if you want to. in san jose it's a 2 pet limit (although I haven't seen that limit enforced much). plus they can be outdoor pets and be much happier because you have a huge yard.
    • lots of electricty. not that I've actually had my power turned off yet in san jose.

    Of course there are disavantages to living in michigan. no city life (cities there are just big manufacturing centers for companies contracted by GM). If you don't like cold wet winters and hot wet summers. (Being surrounded by that much water, you shouldn't be surprised by 60-80% humidty levels in the summer. that's when you just crank the AC up and stay inside:) .. the air pollution is at a level of san jose or san fran. mostly due to the manufacturing and the air that floats up from chicago.

    .. do I have a point? no. I just want to have a michigan-based startup.
  • not to mention everyone making rude comments every time the judge "briefs"

    After 16 years, MTV has finally completed its deevolution into the shiny things network
  • Like the Yew-Ess really needs another venue for litigation. Of course I could just be a little more paranoid than normal having just read Neil Stephenson's Cryptonomicon ... must ... check ... spelling ... right!


  • I think the whole point of this new "cyber-court" (ugh, generic prefixes...) is to have a court that is "specially equipped" to deal with issues that new technology creates.

    Of course, it seems like it would be better to just have a judge that understands technology issues, but if they want to allow "cyber-commuting" (argh! That prefix again!), I guess that is a novel idea (for court anyway).


  • What you say!

  • []

  • Hey hey hey... Where's your state pride? You can bitch about the east side of our fair state all you want, as it's just a growing hole, but lets not forget the beautiful (if not somewhat backwoods) U.P., the wooded north, and the great soutwest... To hell w/ Detroit & Flint, but Kalamazoo would be a great place for start-ups. Culturally strong, and not yet entirely gutted by industry.
  • Thats not entirely true, Ann Arbor was rated way up in places to live for fast connections for several years in a row. The infrastructure is here and theres tons of pipe for education, and large business, but the consumer lines are just starting to get laid. I get 768 DSL in kalamazoo for $40/month... with one of the most worthless TOS's i've ever seen...
  • what about cyber-jail? then i could busted with weed a few more times, go to cyber-court, and get sentenced to cyber-jail. possibly community service, like harvesting email addresses, gathering pr0n for senators and the govneror,hehehe
  • Looks like New Hampshire has done something similar to what Michigan is working on.
    See the following story over at NWFusion: ml
  • Michigans current status as a State within the Union seems, to me at least, a part of Englers next "Presidential Race plus two" race.

    I posted on late 12th Feb this year in a thread the post Michigan=Scotland [] where I was concerned if Michiganders thought that their State was up for grabs in the 'experimental issue' stakes.

    Mark this post. Engler is going to try for the Executive position. These attempts by him are his early testing grounds. Who knows what the "Net" economy will be like 8 years down the pipe... Governer Engler is looking at ALL the options.


  • So, when someone gets tried in cyber court, do they go to cyber jail, in their own cyber cell, where they get a laptop (with an Internet connection)?

    Or maybe they restrict the Web pages and the IRC channels that the criminal can frequent.

    Or, even worse, the judge unplugs the laptop.

    Oh my.

  • I've lived in Metro Detroit all my life and I've only experianced a few weeks of outage the entire time all together. It's DPL power (with is not run by DTE) that has constant outage. What a surprise, DPL is run by the City of Detroit.
  • the real question is - is this really what's going to bring start-ups into michigan?

    are the courts really such a barrier to startups?

    or is it the fact that land value anywhere outside of bloody detroit (literally) tends to be much higher than 'middle of nowhere' desert land - and the fact that there isn't much industry to piggy back off and steal people from out here except the big 3 automakers.

    and it's cold as fuck.

    but i guess, detroit just legalized gambling - so it makes sense that startups should follow.

    saying this as a michigan resident working for an internet startup =p

  • The partners link quit working soon after the more recent article was posted. I haven't tried it in the past few days, so it might have been temporary. I finally registered myself an account, which you're free to use if you want. Username is "fuckmarketers" password is "fuckthemall".
  • ...the BSOD that is, in the middle of my flaming pladoyer
  • Engler promoting high-tech startups in Michigan... now that's a howler. Probably the best asset that this state has in that regard is one of the top research universities in the country, but to many people here (including the guv and most of the state legislature) with ties to rival schools, the U of Mich is seen as an elitist institution that needs to be cut down to size in the interests of fairness and their kids having a better chance of being admitted.

    Every few years it actually becomes a political issue here that the U of M attracts too many top out-of-state students, taking up slots that rightfully belong to home-grown Michigan kids. Then Engler and the legislature start rattling their sabres, threatening to cut funding unless the Big U drops its admissions standards and stops importing so much talent from other states. Ponder that for a moment, if you're interested in building a more robust high-tech infrastructure.

  • So, my question is: Does anyone else really think that the existence of a cyber-court would attract start-ups to Detroit, Grand Rapids or Kalamazoo?

    No. The night life in Ann Arbor is enough to attract startups.

    MmMMmmmm... Ann Arbor. The faded but salvagable grandeur and history of Detroit. The excitement of dodging potholes on the I-75 through Hamtramck. The friendly people, the eastern Mid-West "Can Do" attitude. I love Michigan.

    I drive a 1976 Dodge Ram pickup truck; for winter traction, I've got most of a crushed Honda Prelude in the back. And my old Dodge feels far more at home flying down Woodward than it does flying down Yonge Street.

    The ability to contest a parking ticket online, without having to take a day off work to avoid paying a $20 ticket, is just the icing on the cake. This is a good idea whose time has come.

  • well, that certainly sounds good, considering i'm driving an hour a day every day to/from work on a suspended license because i can't get enough time off work during court hours to actually get my friggin license reinstated, thanks to a large mass of parking tickets that my dad told me he paid 8 years ago.

    Ugh. I suggest you get another job and another father. Then you'll be better equipped to deal with the parking tickets.

  • Pontiac Lake Inn (bar that I no the bartender of)
  • by grammar nazi ( 197303 ) on Thursday February 22, 2001 @05:06AM (#412293) Journal
    You can think of the cybercourt as similar to a food court in the mall. Whatever you think of it as, don't take it seriously!

    Governor Engler is known for giving all of the State's computer jobs to companies that are run by his friends. For example, the DNR, Dept. of Parks and Recreation got a campground reservation system by some company in Boulder. It turns out that the president of the company was a college roommate of Gov. Engler. The program never did work completely, and finally the contract was over, the company had been paid and parks quit using this program. An incredible waste of money. When I worked for parks, if somebody came into the campground stating that they had made an online reservation, we used to honor it, because we had no method of checking to see if such a reservation was actually made.

    A similar situation happened with privatising the Alcohol commission. That is why no bartenders/owners will ever vote for Engler again. Some bars had to wait up to 3 months in order to restock liquor (PLI in waterford had this problem).

    I think of the cybercourt as an excuse for all of Engler's Cronies to come into the state and get away with illegal activities. Before you moderate this as flamebait, realize that I backed up all of my statements with hard facts. Then you can moderate it as flamebait, if you still choose.

  • Ann Arbor also has power. That and, oh, a major University (read: source of skilled technical labor), and easy access to a hub airport (Detroit-Wayne County Airport is only 20 minutes down I-94).

    Detroit, on the other hand, has too many infrastructure problems to attract high-tech business, even with a cyber-court. In fact, Detroit Edison regularly has blackouts ranging from hours to weeks across the metropolitan area. Many of these are caused by windstorms, hailstorms, snowstorms, icestorms, tornados, etc.; yet DetEd claims burying power lines wouldn't help. Somebody send them a clue, please.

  • Does no one consider the potential for fraudulent evidence in "cybercourts"? Seeing evidence and testimony via "streaming video" just sounds too precarious to me. If the whole thing was done in court, but you could "optionally" see things digitally, or see evidence digitally, fine. Well, maybe not even then. Did anyone see the "all your base are belong to us" flash movie someone put together? Look at how many real photos were doctored to include "all your base are belong to us" in them. They look REAL. If people start deciding cases based solely on digital evidence, we'll have LONGER court cases trying to prove the validity.

  • Lawyers would not have to be in Michigan or even be licensed to practice in the state.

    Not requiring a license to practice in Michigan is shady. So would the lawyer only need to be licensed in the state where the "pajamas and sticky-bun" reside, or what?

    Also, what's with the pretentious"I haven't chosen a location for a start-up lately" crap in the post? The multitude of start-ups that you have started were before the fall of the Nasdaq? I mean, gimme a freakin' break!

  • First off, I'd like to say PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE give a little more information in your clip about what it is you're talking about. Especially when you're linking to a site like NYT that requires registration. Basically your post said to me, "Here's a story. I don't have any real thoughts about it, but maybe if I submit it Slashdot will post it."

    Cheers to you Slashdot for continuing the tradition of MLP.

    *DISLCAIMER* I haven't had my cup of coffee yet this morning.

  • Agreed!!

    As a born & bred Kalamazoo gal who relocated to just over the Cascades from Redmond - I've got to say, Michigan is one great state. I look out my windows and see mountains now, but I still do miss Kalamazoo. There is an energy in that area that is unique. I've been in Washington for over 2 years, but still consider myself a Michigander. One of the only things I don't miss is Engler...(side note: am I the only one that remembers when he was running for his first term he made a huge stink about 2 term limits? That is...UNTIL he took office. Now he's riding it for all it's worth. That man makes me want to hurl)

    My point is - I don't know about this CyberCourt malarky, but I think Kalamazoo, and Michigan in general would be an AWESOME place for tech start ups. Not only is it an excellent place to live, but the cost of living is reasonable, people are friendly, and there are lots of things to do.

    Something needs to get going in MI - in the Kazoo area GM has dried up and blown away, Upjohn (excuse me, Pharmecia) is slowly migrating (my mother was forced into early retirement not quite 2 years ago when her division of Upjohn relocated to Jersey)- Simpson Paper Co. (excuse me again, Fox River) in Vicksburg will be shutting down around the end of March (forcing my father back into the 'looking for work'force after 32 years of employ). I haven't been home for over a year and a half, these are just the things I happen to know about.

    In conclusion... More tech start-ups in Michigan = YES!!

  • Southwest Michigan is a fantastic place to live, especially Kalamazoo.
    The biggest limitation however, is the limited number of companies that work with serious technology. IMHO they are few and far between, and compensation is sub-standard compared with bigger cities where there is more opportunity (both in the sence of greater job selection, as well as more opportunity for advancement).

    I want to move to Kalamazoo perminately some day, but the way things are now, it's not attractive unless you can work out some special arrangement with a company located elseware.
  • There actually isn't that much snow around in southeastern Michigan. It is cold, mind you. I'm actually very disappointed because it's no fun to have the cold without the snow to play in. If you really want to see snow in Michigan, you have to go north or west. You are right though, I've heard that Michigan is second place in the U.S. for number of cloudy days per year.

    In the summer, the weather is not bad. Not bad at all. And there's plenty of outdoors up north to vacation in.

    As for technology startups, I'm not sure. I beleive the cost of living in Michigan is relatively low, but I don't know if that affects companies or just their employees.

    Oh, and as for the article, this actually sounds like a good idea. I think the idea of making people travel and appear in person for court cases is a little antiquated. For civil cases, this could be good.

  • A cyber court, i just don't understand any reason it should attract business.
  • It might not work, but I can see what's keeping the Gov. encouraged. Currently, Ann Arbor is attracting more and more online/IT businesses. There's decently cheap labor in Ann Arbor (read:college students), and the mentality there is fairly condusive. Having said this, it stands to reason that Engler would think that more and more businesses would take the leap of faith to come to good ole MI if he supported further growth /opportunities via cyber-courts.

    It's not likely to be a huge draw though. Companies go through Delaware because there's a rich history of corporate law; the judges actually know what their doing, when to pierce the corporate veil, etc. What good is an online court system if the judges don't know encryption from Encarta?
  • How would this appeal to businesses? I mean, that's great that maybe you can sue somebody if need be, but most businesses do their best NOT to get involved in legal action. It's very expensive. The keys to attracting tech business are:
    • Low taxes
    • A well-educated workforce (universities)
    • A strong infrastructure

    All of this was done just about 20 years ago in RTP, NC, and it was very successful. That's also what happened in Boston, Dallas, and all of the other tech centers in the US. "cyber-courts" are not going to bring in business.

  • by XO ( 250276 )
    CyberCourt ? Someone care toe xplain to me just what the hell Engler's thinking now? Kalamazoo may have electricity whereas California isn't guaranteed to.. but KZoo isn't exactly the best place to put business! Though you can find an awful lot of cheap rent in the places slated "future destruction parking lot space - maybe", there's not much around.
  • well, that certainly sounds good, considering i'm driving an hour a day every day to/from work on a suspended license because i can't get enough time off work during court hours to actually get my friggin license reinstated, thanks to a large mass of parking tickets that my dad told me he paid 8 years ago.
  • Well, having lived in Battle Creek, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids, Mt. Pleasant, and finally Metro Detroit, anywhere from 1 month to several years, I can tell you the roads suck everywhere in Michigan. They -really- suck in Detroit. We do have electricity everywhere but downtown Detroit though. And the semi-literate work force is an issue everywhere - the Engler administration has killed the budget for schools, and our literacy rate is horrible.
  • Kalamazoo has the highest per-capita suicide rate in the entire world. Oddly enough, my father retired from that GM plant, which he worked for 30 years after working for Simpson for 3 years. Maybe he knows your father? lol I miss a few of the people that I left behind in Kalamazoo, but it's a sucking hole of pure apathy.
  • I am quite surprised by the number of Michiganders here on /.

    I'd love to return to the southwest side, at least it beats the southeast side. But not IN kalamazoo. More like Portage or Comstock, or one of the really out there cities.
    Know any techno startups that are hiring?
  • i wanna work for an internet startup in mich. where are you? hehe
  • Alright, count me in. What are we doing as our startup? heh ;-)
    (serious: email me)
  • PLI in waterford? what's that?
  • hmm. I think this girl that i know used to take me there when we hung out up there. Over by umm.. jesus. i stop working there, and I forget everything... Crescent Lake and .. something?
  • well the parking tickets are paid, i got my license unsuspended, then i found out that michigan will suspend your license -again- if you are caught driving while suspended. So, basically, they are getting double the re-instatement fees. Which is total BS.
  • Every few years it actually becomes a political issue here that the U of M attracts too many top out-of-state students, taking up slots that rightfully belong to home-grown Michigan kids. Then Engler and the legislature start rattling their sabres, threatening to cut funding unless the Big U drops its admissions standards and stops importing so much talent from other states.

    Pretty sad stuff. The school brings the state jobs (Ann Arbor is crawling with high-tech companies; Main street has turned into Rodeo Drive), prestige, internet access for all the other colleges way back when nobody had heard of it in the early 90s, and a way for its brightest students to get a top-notch education for pennies on the dollar.

    They want to turn their world-class institution into another East Lansing?

  • on-line, any-time courts... sounds pretty cool, if it works. Really, I hope that it does, and that they are able to extend it beyond just technology cases - htat would make it much more useful and flexible - which I think the courts need.

    This one, I shall definitely watch - if it succeeds, this will be cool. If it fails - I hope that the concept isn't abandoned. At least Maryland is planning somethings similar as well.

  • No it's not dark there for 6 months of the year and the two feet of snow isn't that bad :). I think it's a great idea if it attracts startups, then I could possibly move back.
  • I'm just waiting for people to stop punting with the NYT. I'm registered here, how many more places do I need to register with in order to read /.?

    I know a lot of folks just have to be the first to submit a story (hey, at least it's more constructive than the first post race), but come on, if you're going to link, stop asking me to register. As annoying as Wired News' format is to me, at least I can get the information from it.

  • I can only imagine the problems, not to mention the dubious legality, of an online court. So, how are we to get sufficient security to prevent hacks to change verdicts or to be able verify the identity of the participants?

    Nice idea for the future, but not at all possible today.

  • by typical geek ( 261980 ) on Thursday February 22, 2001 @04:51AM (#412319) Homepage
    Judge> defendant, name and a/s/l?
    onlook3r> What r u wearing under your robe, judge?
    Defendent> 12/f/pakistan
    Pros Attorney> bailiff, please kick onlook3r
  • ...
    Judge> prosEXECUTOR_clan-killer, what is this?
    prosEXSECUTOR> these are the weapons with which the defendant attacked
    super|>3f3nd0r2000> ur honour, I object! There's no proof that...
    *You lost the lead.*
    Judge> prosEXECUTOR, if you rail one more lawyer in my court, I'll ban you! Besides, that was obviously a type kill.
    prosEXECUTOR> shaddup, f00! I ownz j00!
    *prosEXECUTOR was banned for being 14m3*
  • Here in Michigan, it may soon be possible for a lawyer to argue a court case while sitting in New York at a kitchen table, wearing pajamas, sipping coffee and eating a sticky bun for breakfast.

    The lawyer would never have to set foot in the Thumb or any other part of the Wolverine State.

    That, anyway, is the plan. To lure technology companies to Michigan, Gov. John Engler wants to establish a separate "cybercourt" for cases involving technology and high-tech businesses, where virtually everything would be done via computer rather than in a courtroom.

    Briefs could be filed online, evidence viewed by streaming video, oral arguments delivered by teleconferencing, conferences held by e- mail. Lawyers would not have to be in Michigan or even be licensed to practice in the state. Cases could be heard any time of the day, even at night, and judges would be trained to understand the complex issues that arise in technology disputes.

    At least one other state, Maryland, is planning a separate judicial division to make the state more attractive to high-tech businesses. Legal experts predict other states will follow. But some lawyers and judges say the idea raises questions about many issues, including handling evidence and training judges.

    Governor Engler wants technology to become as much a mainstay of Michigan's economy as the automobile industry is. He is also proposing tax breaks for new technology companies, and the state already provides millions of dollars in grants for research and product development in biotechnology.

    Mr. Engler, who proposed the cybercourt in his annual address last month, said he hoped it would be up and running within a year. He said he thought technology companies would be attracted to Michigan just as Fortune 500 companies were drawn to Delaware, where the 200-year-old Court of Chancery is especially equipped to handle business cases.

    "I've always admired how Delaware, with its chancery court, really became a preferred business location," Mr. Engler said in an interview. He added, "We think this is a little bit of a case of if we build it, they may come."

    With a separate court, he said, cases would be fast-tracked, saving litigants time and money.

    "At a time when you can go from idea to I.P.O. at warp speed, we need to have a way to get through the court system at a faster rate," said Mr. Engler, a three-term Republican. "You literally can have companies be formed, have a relatively short life cycle, and go out of business in the time it takes a case to get through court."

    Lawyers and judges seem generally receptive.

    "I think it will streamline the court process for new-economy businesses, and hopefully that will be something that will lure business to Michigan," said Michigan's attorney general, Jennifer M. Granholm, a Democrat.

    But some question how the court will iron out details.

    "One of the biggest questions is what is the jurisdiction of this court?" said Richard D. McLellan, a lawyer who is chairman of the Information Technology Association of Michigan. For example, some disputes involve intellectual property rights, trademarks or patents, issues handled in federal court.

    And while Mr. McLellan supports allowing lawyers not licensed in Michigan to try cases from their home states, he says it will be necessary to decide how to hold those lawyers accountable to Michigan's legal code and how to discipline them.

    What's more, he said, "there will be a lot of figuring out how each and every element of a courtroom proceeding will translate electronically, from filing documents to hearings to oral arguments to public access."

    Marc Shulman, a Michigan state representative sponsoring the bill to create the cybercourt, said Michigan's Supreme Court would help answer those questions. Mr. Shulman, a lawyer, said the court could handle any technology-related civil litigation as long as the case did not require a jury and the parties agreed to have it heard in cybercourt. The cases would involve sums of $25,000 or more, and litigants might be charged higher fees than in regular courts.

    Mr. Shulman said he thought that a judge and a clerk would still hear the case in a courtroom, to preserve a semblance of judicial pomp, but that the parties, lawyers and witnesses could be anywhere. And, he said, "the public could actually come online and follow the case as it happens, from their own homes," assuming the public found squabbles over URLs or gigabytes as gripping as the O. J. Simpson murder trial.

    Mr. Shulman said Michigan's court would take elements from other states, like New York and North Carolina, which have judicial divisions for business cases. The online aspects would be modeled in part on an experimental electronic court project run by the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va., and the National Center for State Courts.

    In Maryland, which expects to start its new division this year, plans are for cases to sweep through the system in fewer than 18 months and for many proceedings to eventually be conducted electronically.

    "Our Legislature wanted to get business here, and I think that may be the impetus for a lot of states to look at this," said James L. Thompson, a lawyer, who, while president of the Maryland Bar Association last year, appointed most members of a state commission that recommended the separate division of court for technology and business cases.

    "Most of the technology companies that we heard from and evaluated said that if a state has a business and technology court, a better way of addressing disputes, that would certainly be one of the things on their checklist for moving there," he said.

    Another impetus for these courts, Mr. Engler said, is the Microsoft antitrust case, in which the federal judge, Thomas Penfield Jackson, suggested that his technology expertise was limited, saying in an interview with The New York Times that he had supported a proposal by lawyers for the Justice Department to break up Microsoft because "there's no way I can equip myself to do a better job than they have done."

    In Michigan and Maryland, judges interested and versed in technology would be selected and receive additional training.

    But Max S. Oppenheimer, a Baltimore lawyer specializing in intellectual property, questioned whether the training would lead judges to believe they understood technological facts in a case before the lawyers presented their arguments.

    "Do you want a judge to walk into the courtroom being his own expert?" Mr. Oppenheimer asked. He also wondered whether "by training our judges to be friendly to business, we will deliberately build in a bias to attempt to attract a certain class of litigants to the state."

    Mr. Oppenheimer, and others, also questioned how other litigants would feel if "your judge hasn't had special training in how to deal with your problem, but because someone else's problem involves the Internet, they're going to get a better judge."

    But will high-technology companies flock to Michigan because it is easier to sue each other?

    Joan E. Trusty, president of two large high-technology organizations in Michigan, said that in the past, many technology companies decided not to go to court because it was too costly and time-consuming. "Whether or not the cybercourt will be a be- all and end-all attraction," she said, will depend on whether its first few cases "work their way through the system quickly."

  • A lot of states have higher taxes -- at least most of the East Coast, and probably CA also. There are worse things for business than high taxes: inadequate infrastructure (roads, power plants, phone lines), an uneducated workforce, or thugs running the government. You'll find all three of those problems in Detroit, but most places west of US 23 or north of Flint have good roads, plenty of power, a fairly literate English-speaking work force, and almost honest government. I've lived in several other states. I'll take rural MI over any of them.
  • Judge Judy's Cybercourt.

    "He's making a run for it and we're a million miles away. DO YOU THINK I'M STUPID?"

    -- Eat your greens or I'll hit you!

  • Read the section title in blue []

    -- Eat your greens or I'll hit you!

  • Don't underestimate the importance of face-to-face meetings, though. Videoconferences are OK, but in my experience it's a technology that's 'not quite there'. Particularly for a start-up, there's a huge advantage to locating where the greatest amount of assets (i.e., people) are. As an employee of a (non .com) startup, I can say that even flying in out-of-town prospects (not to mention paying for moving costs, etc) can put a strain on the budget.

    The net is a great resource, but putting someone on salary that you don't see on a daily or even weekly basis is a dicey proposition - especially for a start up. As a company scales, this kind of outsourcing begins to make more sense.

  • I see how having a special court set up to handle technology cases could produce better, faster rulings, but exactly why does this make a tech company want to incorporate in Michigan? I can't see a big business advantage here... it's easier to sue and be sued? I suppose if you're in the "business" of enforcing frivolous software patents that helps you, but I don't see a huge advantage otherwise (unless, as the article suggests, the courts tend to rule in the comapny's favor, which seems like a pretty tricky ethical situation).

    As for an online court, this doesn't sound like a great idea to me. Too many extra variables, and I can't even begin to imagine the number of appeals you'd get in the first 4 or 5 years until they worked the bugs out of the system. If Michigan really wants to attract High tech. businesses, they should do it with tax breaks (like Delaware) or support services (like New Jersey), not with courts.
  • From the article:
    "Do you want a judge to walk into the courtroom being his own expert?" Mr. Oppenheimer asked. He also wondered whether "by training our judges to be friendly to business, we will deliberately build in a bias to attempt to attract a certain class of litigants to the state."
    Who do you think will be 'educating' these judges? Microsoft and the RIAA, or the FSF?
  • "judges would be trained to understand the complex issues that arise in technology disputes." It seems to me that if Michigan can accomplish this goal, the rest is mainly show. A lot of legal work is done on paper - transfering it electronically won't be a big change. It just looks more techy to say "cyber court." I'd like to see some judges trained for today's technology - then maybe we could send congress to those classes.
  • There are many factors more important than "cybercourts" in selecting the location of a startup company. Yes, by the way, I've been there and done that. I chose locations for corporate headquarters based in large part on where I lived at the time, and set up operations elsewhere as well when it made financial sense. Why start a company for someone else's convenience?

    When I've started companies, I've done it with the hope that I'd never end up in a courtroom at all, cyber or otherwise. I certainly wouldn't choose a different state just because it would be more convenient for people who wished to sue me!

    Real factors in selecting a startup location include state income taxes, cost of employees (disability insurance, worker's comp, and such), ability to find qualified employees in the area (for non-telecommuting positions), proximity to customers (it's convenient to have beta testers close at hand), real estate prices, the reputation of other businesses in the area, crime rates in the area, proximity to vendors (shipping can be a significant cost of business), and proximity to good schools (if you can't find good, well-trained employees, grow your own).

    I think that list would be two or three times that length before I'd add "being in a state with cybercourts," and my last startup was in the legal software business!

    As one last closing thought, the court systems of the U.S. are becoming more "electronic" all the time. People are often deposed by teleconference or videoconference during the discovery phase, transcripts are being e-filed and digitally signed, court documents are available in a number of different databases, and with the advent of Legal XML, it's all becoming more accessible to the average citizen. None of this is unique to any one state.

"My sense of purpose is gone! I have no idea who I AM!" "Oh, my God... You've.. You've turned him into a DEMOCRAT!" -- Doonesbury