Here comes the judge…with IBM Watson?

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Note:  This is part two of a two-part series on IBM Watson Care Manager for specialty courts.

As presiding judge at the Indianapolis Veterans Court, it’s my privilege to assist veterans whose conduct has violated community standards in some way. I always want to know the reason they are before me so we can help them get to a better place. The goal is to keep the promise that we as a community made to veterans: if you’re struggling we’ll support you, whether you’re currently serving or a civilian. I am not an IBM client yet, but I’m exploring the latest innovations to aid my court.

Looking for valuable nuggets in a mass of information

We aim to make the Veterans Court as fast and as simple as possible, but it’s a challenge. A typical case involves the veteran, of course, but also a case manager, a body of evidence, resources on legal best practices, and a mentor who we’ve matched based on the veteran’s character of service. We also interact with the US Veterans Administration and with the many providers that deliver services such as drug treatment, psychological counseling and housing assistance. As the judge, I also need to become familiar with the subject matter of each incident, whether it be substance abuse, mental illness, domestic violence or the impact of military culture on veterans’ lives.

Most case information exists in unstructured text files and paper documents, which are quite time consuming to consolidate and study. It’s easy to miss valuable nuggets hidden in the mass of words and pages. In addition, we may have three veterans named Williams and two with the first name Ronald. I have to learn who they are, their histories and everything else about the case to prepare for a 3- to 5-minute weekly interaction to help them get to success.

Watson Care Manager integrates and analyzes case information

My time for doing this for the many veterans I work with is scarce. That’s why we’re exploring using IBM Watson Care Manager to integrate and analyze case-related information to more quickly achieve better outcomes.

From the time Watson competed on Jeopardy!, and even earlier when Deep Blue beat the world chess champion, it was clear that an artificial intelligence revolution was taking place that could impact the legal profession. Good tools can make people better at what they do. Perhaps Watson can augment my education, my experience, and my decision-making as I exercise my judicial responsibility.

 Exploring technology options for the court

Often the evidence in a case points to the right path. It would make me a better judge if Watson could help to separate the irrelevant from the essence, and suggest options to choose from. Sometimes the veteran has a plan for improvement, sometimes I can identify ways to improve the plan. Watson may be able to offer insights to enhance plans on both sides of the table. And at times when I have a few days off or go on vacation, it would be helpful if someone with my skill set could prepare the case online. If we could train Watson to do that, it would be priceless.

Like most people, I need help to be exceptional at what I do. I count on my team, I count on the veterans to teach me, and I’d like to have the very best technology behind me. That’s why I want to explore how Watson can help.

See more from Judge David Certo in the following video clip:


Read Part One of the series by Judge Anthony Capizzi of the Montgomery County (Ohio) Juvenile Court.

Contact an IBM sales rep: Tom Davis, in the Eastern US, or Tony Williams, in the Western US.

Presiding Judge, Indianapolis Veterans Court

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