The story of the blockchain, law, and trust is still unfolding. It just might be one of the most important stories of our time.… [S]ystems based on blockchain technology’s foundational innovation could influence all aspects of business, government, and human communities. It would be premature to label the blockchain movement a revolution with similar impacts as the printing press, the telephone, or the Internet, but it belongs in the same conceptual category.Kevin Werbach (2019)
Blockchain is a tamper-proof, decentralized, transparent, and public online record—a distributed ledger that records and stores information accurately and reliably. Transactions on a blockchain are managed collectively by the users without intermediaries. Blockchain is the technology that underlies the digital cryptocurrency bitcoin. It has been much hyped,1 driven by the mania surrounding bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, which are forms of electronic cash built on peer-to-peer technology requiring no central government authority or commercial bank to regulate it.
Blockchain technology, which draws on cryptography (the science of communications, a form of applied mathematics2), computer science, economics, and political science, can be applied to any record of assets, inventories, transactions, or exchanges (almost anything of value, not just money) that can be recorded in a database or spreadsheet. In Blockchain: Blueprint for a New Economy, Melanie Swan, the founder of the Institute for Blockchain Studies, proclaims that we may be at the “dawn of a new revolution.”3 She speculates that all modes of human activity could be coordinated or reinvented with blockchain. She argues that blockchain may represent not just a better organizational model, it could also provide “greater liberty, equality, and empowerment qualitatively.” There is little doubt that blockchain is coming to a neighborhood near you.
However, blockchain’s application in state and local courts is unlikely to happen quickly and not without some growing pains. Wary about big information technology (IT) projects, court managers will not change their views overnight.4 This article is meant to be a guide to blockchain technology for court managers that retains the excitement of its transformative potential for courts without the extreme hype. It begins with a brief description of blockchain’s origins in the development of bitcoin a decade ago and ends with some advice about what court managers might do to explore and to develop blockchain in their courts today.
1. The Origins of Blockchain Are Intriguing
In 2010, a mere two years after the cryptocurrency was invented, a bitcoin was priced at about $0.06. At its peak in December 2017, it was valued at $19,000, an astonishing increase of more than 300,000 percent, turning a few early investors into billionaires. On March 3, 2019, as this article was being written, it was worth $3,710. As part of the technology architecture of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, blockchain handled the tricky “double spend problem,” whereby users of electronic cash could spend the same digital money repeatedly, or claim that they had more currency than they really did, without some trusted centralized authority like a government agency or commercial bank to check and verify every transaction.5 With the use of cash, this problem takes care of itself. When a coin or bill is spent, it is out of the possession of the original owner, who cannot spend it again.
When it was invented by experts in cryptography and computer science a decade ago,6bitcoin was not intended to be the instrument of investment speculation it turned out to be, but rather a new form of digital currency not controlled by government, part of a counterculture movement dubbed “crypto anarchy.” The movement embraced political ideology combining an anti-establishment, anarchic aversion to governments and big corporations, and the utopian fantasy that technology could free people from authoritarian control. If trust in governments and central authorities could be replaced by trust in the architecture of computer code, the argument goes, then users could cut out intermediaries and run a peer-to-peer payment system themselves liberated from the state.7
As pointed out in two recent books by information researchers and legal scholars Primavera De Filippi and Aaron Wright and by Kevin Werbach,8 this anarchic fantasy was unlikely to be realized. They agree that blockchain may follow a similar path as that of the Internet from untethered freedom to at least somewhat regulated and controlled reality.
Kevin Werbach argues persuasively that the view that blockchain is the final answer to what he calls “intermediation”—the problem of undesirable intermediaries such as government regulators and commercial entities such as banks and payment systems like Visa and MasterCard—is unrealistic and wrongheaded. First, he points out, there already is intermediation in blockchains in the form of Internet providers, hardware manufacturers, software developers, and currency exchanges for cryptocurrencies, for example. Second, he argues, there is no great desire to eliminate oversight and regulation even when the blockchain network is deemed trustworthy. Finally, he predicts that governments will find a way to regulate blockchain, to complement or supplement conventional regulation and oversight, and argues that this will allow us to make the best use of blockchain technology. He strikes a more optimistic tone than Filippi and Wright when he posits that the regulatory and governance functions of law and those of blockchain are both rooted in trust, and that both can and should coexist.
2. What Is Blockchain?
Blockchain is the underlying technology of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies—computerized versions of cash that do not rely on central authorities or other intermediaries and are free of control by government entities or commercial banks. Blockchain can be an immutable, anonymous, and decentralized record of transactions of any tangible asset (a house, a car, cash, and land) or intangible asset (intellectual property, patents, copyrights, and court records). The basic function of blockchains is to share information among parties who may not trust one another, the way we may regard as trustworthy governmental and nongovernmental entities such as commercial banks and payment systems that handle our money. Everyone has a copy and undeniable proof that the information will be reliable without some central administrator.
Werbach compares the blockchain to the polygraph (a duplicating machine, not a lie detector) famously used by Thomas Jefferson to copy his correspondence simultaneously, with the creation of the original using pens and ink, to explain the blockchain system whereby a transaction in a ledger is simultaneously transmitted to all user locations.9 With the polygraph, Jefferson did not need an “intermediary” scribe to make a copy of his original. Likewise, the blockchain extends this model to the many copies on a distributed ledger.
The information stored in a blockchain is maintained by the network of users, and each data record, or “block,” is entered into a “chain” of blocks. The chain expands as new data and new blocks are added. A blockchain is an “append-only ledger,” meaning that it can only be written to and not edited. Blocks are records—a collection of different data (i.e., hour, day, month, amount of a transaction) that relates to the same object, which in the case of a blockchain is a transaction. The term “chain” is an informal way of expressing that blocks have an order; when new blocks are added to the distributed system, they contain unique information from the previous block to keep track of the order. The ordering of the blockchain, coupled with the append-only permission, creates the important properties of the blockchain, such as the decentralization of the system and its tamper-proof nature, which is referred to as “immutability” in the computer-science community. Once blocks are collected in a chain, they cannot be changed by a single actor but are verified and managed using automation and shared protocols.
A blockchain is designed to generate a permanent and secure record of all transactions. The transactions are overseen and policed by its users, and in the case of cryptocurrencies, not by a bank or online payment systems, such as Visa, Mastercard, and PayPal.
3. There Is so Much More Blockchain Beyond Bitcoin
The bitcoin blockchain was designed to serve as a distributed ledger of electronic cash, nothing more. But the blockchains that underpin cryptocurrencies have much broader potential applications beyond the exchange of digital cash. The blockchain can serve, for example, as a database for transactions of exchanges of many valuable assets, including stocks, trademarks, movie tickets, and diamonds. In what has been characterized by Werbach as blockchain’s second act after bitcoin, innovative extensions take blockchain beyond its original application for digital currency. Two examples, “smart contracts” and what are called “permissioned,” “consortium,” or “private” distributed ledgers, take the original blockchain design for bitcoin, in particular its central feature of distributed ledgers and transparency (i.e., public), much further into more general applications.
Smart Contracts. As explained by Werbach,10 in any transaction, three elements require our trust: a) the other party (counterparty) to the dispute, b) the intermediary, and c) the dispute resolution mechanism. On a blockchain network, nothing is trusted except the last element and the output of the network. A “smart contract,” a blockchain version of a traditional contract, is essentially a software program executed on a blockchain that replaces all three of these elements of trust with software code and algorithms. General-purpose blockchain platforms like Ethereum, the most prominent smart-contract platform,11 represented a great leap forward from a single-function payment system for cryptocurrencies, focused on a specific application, to a large array of approaches using distributed ledgers for any applications that could be written as computer software. Smart contracts are self-executing, with terms and conditions written in code on a decentralized, distributed ledger. This is, of course, very different from traditional transactions of a contractual agreement, whereby the settlement and the processes are separate and distinct from the agreement itself, and whereby disputes are heard by courts.
Adding to his memorable analogy of Jefferson’s polygraph to illustrate the distributed ledger of blockchains, Werbach cites the analogy of a vending machine to illustrate smart contracts.12 Once we insert money into the vending machine (i.e., to initiate the “contract”), it performs the contractual agreement without further action from the initiator. A vending machine satisfactorily executes an implicit contract by taking in our money—coins or paper bills—and dispensing products of all kinds. Its construction and placement are sufficiently secure to make breaching the contract by breaking into the machine or by tampering with its mechanisms unprofitable. The machine is the entirety of the contractual environment. It needs no human intermediaries either to execute the contract or to resolve disputes in court.
Smart contracts make it possible to execute similar contractual arrangements digitally across networks for any kind of asset and agreement, like insurance, mortgages, wills, and licenses of all sorts, without any human intermediaries. In the words of Werbach, “Smart contracts are the engine that allow blockchain-based systems to support more than digital cash. They also reveal the full significance of the blockchain as the architecture of trust, for good or ill.”13
Permissioned Ledgers. In closely regulated areas of court operations, case processing of civil protection orders and arrest warrants, for example, there are requirements to keep the details of certain transactions confidential along the supply chain of these judicial services.14 In addition, courts have obligations to redact15 certain parts of a record for various reasons, obligations that do not square with the irreversible transaction ledgers of public blockchain records. This is where “permissioned ledgers” come into play with courts. They relax some of the strict requirements of decentralization and transparency. They are still decentralized insofar as no single entity can control the network but only a few verified actors with permission from a coordinating body can validate the transaction, allow new ones, and view the ledger. They also do away with bitcoin’s transparent (public) ledger allowing organizations using permissioned ledgers some secrecy.
Walmart, the world’s biggest retailer, is an oft-cited leader in permissioned-distributed-ledger technology.16 One of its biggest challenges is identifying the source of food-borne illnesses caused by contaminated foods that end up on its shelves, difficult because its supply chain involves thousands of suppliers and intermediaries around the world. Those suppliers and intermediaries also work with many of Walmart’s competitors and, therefore, they would be unwilling to give Walmart free access to all their operational information. A distributed ledger allows Walmart’s suppliers and intermediaries to share information about the source and the current location of contaminated products without giving up their control of that information. In a pilot project with mangoes grown in the United States, Walmart tested the blockchain ledger as the mangoes moved from point to point in the supply chain. Using its conventional supply-chain-management system, it took a full week to identify which farm produced a package of mangoes sold in one of Walmart’s stores. With the permissioned-distributed-ledger system, it took just over two seconds.
As blockchain moves beyond the designs of cryptocurrencies, some users of business blockchains reportedly prefer not to use the term “blockchain” to dissociate themselves from the bad reputation of many cryptocurrencies;17 the permission-distributed ledger is likely to be adopted in an ever-broadening range of private and public transactions overseen by justice institutions.
4. There Are a Dizzying Number of Potential Applications of Blockchains
Blockchain has evolved beyond its original use as a cryptocurrency database. It has found applications in social, political, economic, and legal realms that require trust and a permanent and secure record. Applications include private and official government activities of all types: managing supply chains of products and services (e.g., potential uses for many types of judicial services provided to court users); maintaining data on airline flights; operating identity-management systems (e.g., registering personal identities such as birth certificates); protecting health and corporate records; certifying stock ownership; authenticating images; managing cargo on shipping vessels; registering diamonds in ways that make it easier to determine whether they are stolen or mined in war zones; securing copyrights; protecting electoral systems; and even creating unique identities for the results of clinical research trials. In June 2018, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Science and Technology Directorate (S&T), awarded $192,380 to Factom, Inc., a start-up based in Austin, Texas, to begin beta testing of a capability that uses blockchain technology to secure the Internet of Things (IoT) data.18
Faced with the advance of what has been dubbed as “surveillance capitalism,” whereby personal data are appropriated for pernicious commercial and political purposes,19 countries around the world are exploring innovative ways for people owning and protecting the privacy and security of their own electronic health-care data. In 2016 the tech-savvy country of Estonia became the first to use blockchain for securing personal health-care data nationally. A blockchain archive or ledger records each access or change to a patient’s electronic records, and cryptographic functions create an immutable audit trail. “We are using blockchain as an additional layer of security to help us ensure the integrity of health records. Privacy and integrity of healthcare information are a top priority for the government, and we are happy to work with innovative technologies like the blockchain to make sure our records are kept safe,” wrote Artur Novek, the manager and architect for the E-Health Foundation implementing the effort.20
Applications of blockchain technology to property-related transactions to secure and to validate official government transactions have been attempted in several parts of the world. Governments in Sweden, the Republic of Georgia, Ghana, and Ukraine are testing it for land mapping and registration. In a recent paper, we explored the emerging application of blockchain to land registration in places governed by customary law and tribal practices, where determining who owns land and property is not practically possible or feasible today, especially in places where governments are weak or fragile, and the rule of law is not strong.21 If the applications can scale up sufficiently to serve large segments of a country or region under customary land tenure, blockchain provides a path out of poverty for individual landowners and the opportunity to bolster a country’s economy by freeing up huge amounts of previously locked capital and allowing land to be used as collateral for lending, to be bought, sold, and taxed.
5. A Speculative List of Potential Uses of Blockchain by State and Local Courts
A fundamental function of state and local courts, as the custodians of records, is maintaining the official records of sensitive criminal- and civil-case data. The reliability and integrity of the data in case files are core measures of court performance.22 Faster and more transparent record keeping means that disputes can be resolved more quickly.23
But court records include not only official case records, but administrative records as well. The former includes any document, record of actions, and information collected, received, or maintained by a court or clerk of court that is connected to a judicial proceeding. These may be in the form of an index, docket, register of actions, official record of the proceedings, order, decree, judgment, or minute order. Administrative records are court records that pertain to the management, supervision, or administration of a court that is not part of a case record.24 Blockchain could simplify and reduce the cost of managing these records, making it easier for courts and other government agencies and parties to access and use critical data in the records while maintaining the security of this data.25
A speculative and incomplete list of possible
applications of blockchain in the administration of state and local courts in
three categories of records—public, semipublic, and private—is as follows:
|Public Records||Semipublic Records||Private Records|
|Criminal records||Protection orders||Contracts|
|Land titles and sales||Medical records||Trusts|
|Fines and fees||Accounting records||Settlement agreements|
|Arrest warrants||Mediation records||Digital evidence|
|Permits and licenses||Arbitration records||Search warrants|
|Death certificates||Writs, notices, and orders||Sealed transcripts|
In addition to this list are intangible assets (patents, copyrights, and software licenses) and other data, such as judicial performance evaluations (i.e., individual judges) and the results of court (i.e., organizational) performance measurement.
6. Blockchain will Change the Way Courts Operate
Two of blockchain’s design features, its distributed nature and immutability, which allow it to work without control of a central authority and without the parties of a set of transactions to trust each other, have made it attractive for many applications that many businesses and governments around the world are exploring to streamline their supply chains and make them more efficient, assisted by technology firms, consultancies, and services firms.26 Consider the example of a manufacturer in the United States, a shipping company hired by the manufacturer, the customer in another country, and the customs agents in both countries. All would use the same immutable, tamper-proof record of transactions on a blockchain to track the manufacturer’s product, instead of multiple incompatible databases of the transactions in the supply chain that risk being compromised.
Today, most private and public organizations, including courts, rely on their own unique systems for supply chain management in management silos with the same transaction data being used in different formats on different platforms and databases. Such systems could be streamlined by replacing them with blockchains, increasing efficiencies, reducing costs, and increasing data security.
7. But . . . the Conversation About Blockchain in State and Local Courts Has Barely Begun
Compared to the rapidly expanding literature devoted to blockchain and the law,27 the legal industry, and the business of private law firms, and despite blockchain’s obvious potential uses for handling court records, the conversation about blockchain in the administration of state and local courts has barely begun.28 A November 2018 article in the National Law Review explored ten areas in which blockchain technology will change the legal industry: law-firm operations, public-service records, smart contracts, corporate filings, criminal cases, dispute resolution, document notarization, industry organizations, intellectual-property rights, and land registration and property deeds.29 Though the article’s focus is on the work of lawyers, it has much to say about technology to court managers of state and local courts about blockchain.
National Center for State Courts (NCSC) consultant Di Graski and Chief Information Officer Paul Embley, however, have pushed the conversation to the attention of managers of state and local courts with their article appearing in the Trends in State Courts 2018, “When Might Blockchain Appear in Your Court?”30 They point out that in the future courts may use blockchain technology to facilitate recordkeeping in three areas—court judgments, arrest and search warrants, and criminal histories—modeled on the approach Walmart used to in its pilot project for supply chain management of mangoes discussed earlier.
For example, courts are justifiably concerned that electronic court records of judgments are updated when parties successfully expunge criminal convictions, reopen civil default judgements, or secure other post-judgment relief. The proliferation of electronic case records makes this a difficult challenge akin to the problem faced by Walmart in identifying the points in its supply chain for mangoes. Parties can suffer serious harm in employment, public housing, and personal finances when outdated, inaccurate records persist.
As Graski and Embley explain, with blockchain “court updates of judgments would be reflected beyond the walls of the courthouse: No matter how many third-party data aggregators possessed a blockchain-based order, the record would reflect the most current information.”31 They extend the conversation beyond court judgments, arrest and search warrants, and criminal histories to real property, family law, and business records. They cite the examples of a pilot project by the Cook County, Illinois Recorder of Deeds using blockchain for land-sale records to make it possible to track changes more reliably;32 the adoption of blockchain to replace Delaware’s outdated nominee system of recording stock ownership, an update urged by the Delaware Court of Chancery;33 as well as challenges and hurdles to the application of bitcoin technology in such areas as personal jurisdiction, enforceability of state and local court judgments, and digital evidence.
8. The Cost of Implementing Blockchain Technology
As mentioned above, most managers of state and local courts are quite wary about the challenges of big IT projects, including deployment costs (both one-time and ongoing). The question of the cost of implementing their blockchain technology in state and local courts is akin to the question of the cost of deploying artificial intelligence (AI) or e-court solutions. It depends on the answers to fundamental questions of goals, focus, and scope that are the same as for any ambitious IT project. What do you want to do? What is the problem you are trying to solve? Where do you want to start? Who will run the project, and who will be in charge? Some of these questions entail technical considerations.
For example, a court manager will need to consult with both technical experts and court leaders to decide between a public ledger, such as that supporting bitcoin, and a permissioned ledger, which will affect the cost, as well as put constraints on the solution. Depending on the answers to the fundamental questions noted above, a court is likely to bear higher transaction fees using an already established public ledger instead of a permissioned ledger but lower costs of infrastructure, since it will not be using its own dedicated servers. Where the blockchain data will reside—in the cloud or in the court’s servers—will also figure into cost considerations.
9. Blockchain Technology Is Still in the Exploratory Stage
Blockchain technology is still immature, and success is not guaranteed. Most blockchain projects are only exploratory. Many are oversold, and many have failed.34
As the hype subsides, and discussions of blockchain are divorced from that of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, as well as ancillary developments such as initial coin offerings (ICOs), a form of crowdsource fundraising for cryptocurrencies, these early explorations reveal that putting processes of the blockchain into practice is as complex and painstaking as any big IT effort. As pointed out by The Economist in its September 2018 Technology Quarterly, business insiders and outsiders are likely to differ in their perspectives. “Because blockchains and cryptocurrencies are notoriously complicated, non-experts from other industries can end up confused by techno-speak, whereas advocates of the technologies are so excited by the potential that they give insufficient attention to important details of the industries they are aiming to revolutionize.”35
Implementing blockchain is fraught with risks. It is a tool, a means to an end. The parties to implementation need to agree not only about how to use the tool and how it is to be designed, but also about the more fundamental question of what ends it is designed to achieve. Court managers should be wary. But, that said, unlike cryptocurrency, which still seems to be a solution looking for a problem, blockchain promises ever more solutions.
10. What Should Managers of State and Local Courts Do Today?
Professional court managers today are acutely aware of the need to arm themselves with the information that will lead to successful planning and implementation of IT projects.36 Among the Principles for Judicial Administration is the requirement of courts to provide the kind of services that the public has come to expect from their experiences with other branches of government and the private world, not only to become more efficient but also to remain relevant in a constantly advancing, tech-savvy society.37 Clarke, Lewis, and Graski warn that short of a revolution in technology-driven innovations in courts, which they say should come none too soon, courts are heading for trouble because courts are already losing case filings at a rapid rate and seeing significant decreases in public support and legitimacy because of their operational failings.38
What makes blockchain any different than any other IT project? The short answer is that blockchain is a disruptive technology both in its scope and its velocity. It can transform many sectors of the economy all at once, introducing new ways of doing things that disrupt or overturn existing business methods and practices. Examples in the past are steam engines, railroads, telephones, computers, and the Internet; more recent examples of disruptive technologies include smartphones, e-commerce, and AI. At the very least, court managers should familiarize themselves with blockchain to avoid the risk of unexpected disruptions that may rapidly overturn established court practices and shorten careers.
While there are risks in jumping on the blockchain bandwagon and, as Werbach cautions, confusing blockchain press releases with blockchain success stories,39benefits can accrue to the courts and court managers willing to explore and develop blockchain technology. Quite apart from the success or failure of effective blockchain projects, writers on leadership like Peter Drucker, Jim Collins, and John Kotter agree that rewards come to the managers who favor the future over the past; who focus on opportunities, not necessarily problems; and who embrace innovation. Court managers who are explorers and early adopters are more likely to attract collaborators, partners, and donors40 drawn to those willing to participate in proofs of concept, demonstrations, and pilot projects of blockchain technology. Such attractions will fade as blockchain moves into the mainstream of court operations, which it surely will.
Many have compared blockchain to the Internet in its early days. Werbach argues that we could use a dose of institutional memory about blockchain. He quotes the analogy between blockchain and the Internet drawn by MIT Media Lab director Joichi Ito and venture capitalist Marc Andressen:
A mysterious new technology emerges, seemingly out of nowhere, but actually the result of two decades of intense research and development by nearly anonymous researchers. Political idealists project visions of liberation and revolution onto it; establishment elites heap contempt and scorn on it. On the other hand, technologists—nerds—are transfixed by it. [Eventually] its effects become profound; and later people wonder why its powerful promise was not more obvious from the start.41
Many of the blockchain ideas currently in development (e.g., decentralized autonomous organization, or DAO,42 whereby the standard corporate arrangements of equity, debt, and corporate governance are encoded as a series of smart contracts) seem like science fiction. But we are reminded every day that we have seen nothing yet. As we finished writing this article, the Wall Street Journal43 reported the “fantastical” story of the construction-technology company Icon’s rollout of a 3-D printer that can construct a 2,000 square-feet concrete house, nearly as spacious as the typical American home, at a fraction of the cost in several days. The 3-D printer is operated by a computer tablet, with only a few people supervising construction. Icon has plans to print at least 50 homes in Latin America.
In the conclusion of her book, Blockchain: Blueprint for a New Economy,44 Swan speculates about Blockchain 3.0 and versions beyond, about different ways in which blockchain technology might evolve to help artificial intelligence become a “friendly” relationship with humans, including various kinds of human, machine, and hybrid intelligence, such as “enhanced humans, different forms of human/machine hybrids, digital mindfile uploads, and different forms of artificial intelligence like simulated brains and advance machine learning algorithms.” While such future technology is fraught with skepticism and, indeed, might be no more than science fiction, there is no doubt that we live in exciting times today.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Ingo Keilitz, a former vice-president of the National Center for State Courts, is principal of CourtMetrics; he also is a research associate of the William & Mary (W&M) Global Research Institute and a visiting scholar of the W&M Public Policy Program. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Troy Wiipongwii is co-founder and chief technology officer of TheBlockParty and machine-learning engineer at the Digital Reserve. Contact him at email@example.com.
- A course on blockchain advertised by the University of California’s Berkeley Executive Education cites that the business value-add of blockchain will grow to more than $176 billion by 2025, and it will exceed $3.1 trillion by 2030. See “Blockchain Technologies and Applications for Businesses,” accessed March 5, 2019.
- Bruce Schneier, Applied Cryptography, 2nd ed. (New York: Wiley, 2015).
- Melanie Swan, Blockchain: Blueprint for a New Economy (Sebastopol, CA: O’Reilly Media, Inc., 2015), at 29.
- See Michael Krigsman, “California Abandons $2 Billion Court Management System,” ZDNet, April 2, 2012, accessed March 17, 2019.
- Kevin Werbach, The Blockchain and the New Architecture of Trust (Cambridge: Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press, 2018), at 43.
- Satoshi Nakamoto is the name of the unknown person (or group) who developed bitcoin in 2008. See “Chasing the Rainbow,” The Economist Technology Quarterly: Cryptocurrencies and Blockchains (September 1, 2018): 1-12; see also, “Satoshi Nakamota,” Wikipedia, accessed March 4, 2019.
- “Chasing the Rainbow,” p. 4, id., noting that “Bitcoin’s enigmatic creator may never be identified.”
- Primavera De Filippi and Aaron Wright, Blockchain and the Law: The Rule of Code (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2018); and Werbach, supra n. 5.
- Werbach at 7-8, supra n. 5.
- Werbach at 29, 63-67, supra n. 5.
- Ethereum Blockchain App Platform, accessed March 21, 2015.
- Werbach at 64, supra n. 5.
- Werbach at 67, supra n. 5.
- In economic theory, supply chain management is the design, planning, allocation, and monitoring of the movement of resources from point of origin (supplier) to the point of consumption (end user). In court administration, the supply chain consists of the supplier or provider (the court and its judicial officers), the “manufacturer” (the creator of the judicial service, e.g., the clerk, registry staff, or judge), the “distributor” (e.g., the e-filing service), and the “customer” (the court user). Supply chain management aims to balance supply and demand to maximize efficiency, effectiveness, fairness, and other values such as public trust and confidence in the courts. See Robert Rose and Ingo Keilitz, “Judicial Mapping of the First Instance Courts of Ukraine: Rationalizing the Allocation of Judicial Resources in the Oblasts and Kyiv City”, final report, Nove Pravosuddya Justice Sector Reform Program in Ukraine, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), January 31, 2018, at 4-5.
- Redaction has been defined as “the process of obscuring confidential information contained with a public record from view” by blacking out or masking a portion of the record. It can be done manually or by data-identification software. See Thomas M. Clarke, Jannet Lewis, and Di Graski, “Best Practices for Court Private Policy Formulation,” report, National Center for State Courts, Williamsburg, Va., July 2017, accessed March 20, 2019.
- See Werbach at 82-83, supra n. 5.
- “Chasing the Rainbow” at 10, supra n. 6.
- “News Release: DHS Awards Austin-Based Factom, Inc. $192k for Blockchain Tech,” Homeland Security, Science and Technology Directorate, June 15, 2018, accessed March 18, 2019.
- See Shosana Zuboff, The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power (New York: Public Affairs, 2019), at 247-51, noting that by 2016 there were more than 100,000 mobile health apps available on Google Android and Apple iOS platforms.
- Taavi Einaste, “Blockchain and Healthcare: The Estonian Experience,” Nortal website, accessed March 5, 2019.
- Ingo Keilitz and Troy Wiipongwii, “Blockchain and International Development: Can Blockchain Technology Be the Solution to Land Ownership in Developing Nations?” William and Mary Policy Review 9 (2017): 52-71.
- See Measure 6, “Reliability and Integrity of Case Files,” of the National Center for State Courts’ CourTools, accessed March 7, 2019.
- Microsoft, “How Blockchain Will Transform the Modern Supply Chain,” section on “Dispute Resolution,” accessed March 19, 2019.
- Clarke, Lewis, and Graski at 21, supra n. 15.
- Steve Cheng, Matthias Daub, Axel Domeyer, and Martin Lundqvist, “Using Blockchain to Improve Data Management in the Public Sector,” McKinsey Digital (February 2017), accessed March 19, 2019.
- See Microsoft, supra n. 23, for what a blockchain-empowered supply chain looks like.
- For example, explorations of law and the blockchain have included intriguing efforts to develop “computational courts,” “computational juries,” and arbitration processes on cryptoeconomic principles. See Werbach at 212-217, supra n. 5.
- Blockchain does not appear among the “Priority Topics” for 2018-2019 of the Joint Technology Committee established by the Conference of State Court Administrators, the Conference of Chief Justices, and the National Center for State Courts in 2003, accessed March 21, 2019.
- Jaliz Maldanado, “10 Ways Blockchain Technology Will Change the Legal Industry,” National Law Review, online edition (November 19, 2018), accessed March 10, 2019; see also Nathan Fulmer, “Exploring the Legal Issues of Blockchain Applications,” Akron Law Review 52 (2019), accessed March 19, 2019.
- Di Graski and Paul Embley, “When Might Blockchain Appear in Your Court?” in D. W. Smith, C. F. Campbell, and B. P. Kavanaugh (eds.), Trends in State Court 2018 (Williamsburg, VA: National Center for State Courts), at 62-66, accessed March 7, 2019.
- Graski and Embley at 63, supra n. 30.
- See also Werbach at 64, supra n. 5, noting that every property transfer or other activity, such as a new mortgage, is represented by a cryptographic hash.
- See also Moldanado, supra n. 29; and Werbach at 166 and 180, supra n. 5, mentioning the Delaware Blockchain Initiative (DBI), an effort to enhance the state’s corporate law through distributed ledgers.
- See ch. 6, “What Can Possibly Go Wrong,” Werbach at 113-132, supra n. 5.
- “Chasing the Rainbow” at 11, supra n. 6.
- See, for example, National Association for Court Management, A Guide to Technology Planning for Court Managers: Mastering Successful IT Projects (Williamsburg, VA: National Association for Court Management, 2014), accessed March 8, 2019.
- Principles for Judicial Administration (Williamsburg, VA: National Center for State Courts, 2012).
- Clarke, Lewis, and Graski at 5, supra n. 15.
- Werbach at 73, supra n. 5.
- For example, one such potential donor that we are studying is the Stellar Development Foundations’ Academic Research Program, which funds research topics such as legal theories and implications surrounding use of distributed ledgers or decentralized exchanges for physical property and securities and other beneficial applications of distributed-ledger technology.
- Joichi Ito and Marc Andressen, “Why Bitcoin Matters,” New York Times, January 21, 2014, quoted in Werbach at 228, supra n. 5.
- Werbach at 110, supra n. 5.
- Laura Kustisto, “3-D Printing Reaches Real Estate,” Wall Street Journal, March 12, 2019.
- Swan at 95-96, supra n. 3.