Login | June 18, 2019

Conference of Chief Justices weighs in on GDPR

Technology for Lawyers

Published: May 17, 2019

The Conference of Chief Justices, an organization serving the CJs of each state supreme court, recently created a study to see how the GDPR might affect the workings of their courts.

The study was coordinated by Judge Gregory Mize, who heads special projects for the organization. Judge Mize sat down with me for a brief interview on the topic.

He started by saying the “the GDPR is an octopus of great dimension. We wanted to see if practicing attorneys and people in the legal field were directly affected by it.” If so, the study was geared to making recommendations to the supreme courts of the country.

Judge Mize said that the group had had their interest piqued by the recent plethora of webinars and conference presentations on the topic. He was “tasked with digging into it to see if it might affect court operations.”

Long story short, Judge Mize did notice some potential effect on court ops, but the study that he led had one fairly large gap to it.

First, he noted that there may be privacy concerns regarding search warrants and other criminal law actions. “If some of that information is personal data under GDPR for a EU resident,” he said, “will the courts have a hard time getting the information they need to enforce the laws?”

Another concern was the flow of data between countries for foreign attorneys practicing law in the US potentially having privacy issues. He felt that some of these issues could be subject to negotiation among the affected countries.

On the whole, though, Judge Mize felt that the actual effect of the GDPR on the day-to-day normal operations of the courts was minimal.

However, the study did not reach the ethics issue: That basic competence with technology is now required of attorneys under most state rules (including Ohio); that, therefore, familiarity with the GDPR should be a requirement for attorneys under those ethical codes; and that, therefore, supreme courts should probably require attorneys to take a CLE on the subject or have some basic competency in order to properly serve their clients.

So with that suggestion we hung up the phone, but we promised to stay in touch on that last matter.