News Release

Chief Justice Creates Task Force on Use of Generative AI in the California Courts

Work must focus on preserving public trust and confidence in the judicial process, along with accountability, transparency, and privacy for the public
May 17, 2024

SAN FRANCISCO—Chief Justice Patricia Guerrero today launched a new judicial branch task force to evaluate generative artificial intelligence (AI) for its potential benefits to courts and court users while mitigating risks to safeguard the public.

“Generative AI brings great promise, but our guiding principle should be safeguarding the integrity of the judicial process,” said Chief Justice Guerrero. “That means it will be essential for the branch to assess what protections are necessary as we begin to use this technology.”

Members of the task force will include Administrative Presiding Justice Brad Hill (chair), Justice Carin Fujisaki, Judge Kyle Brodie, Administrative Presiding Justice Mary Greenwood, Judge Arturo Castro, and council members David Yamasaki and Gretchen Nelson.

Earlier this year, Chief Justice Guerrero asked Justice Greenwood and Judge Castro to help identify the foundational questions the California court system must consider regarding the appropriate uses of AI.

In response to their report and recommendations presented today, Chief Justice Guerrero announced the following next steps for the judicial branch:

  • Create an AI task force to oversee the consideration and development of branch actions that address generative AI, such as rules of court, technology policies, educational programs, and legislative proposals
  • Work with Supreme Court ethics committees to develop guidance on how judicial officers should navigate ethical issues associated with generative AI
  • Provide education for judicial officers, court professionals, and council staff that focuses on the uses, benefits, and risks of generative AI

AI Issues to Be Considered
During their presentation to the council, Justice Greenwood and Judge Castro recommended the judicial branch should use generative AI, but with limitations and safeguards, as avoiding this easily accessible technology may deprive the branch of significant benefits. They identified some potential uses of AI, which include improving court administration and management, and enhancing research and analysis.

“Generative AI could also increase access to justice for the public,” said Judge Castro. “I think about the potential for AI to help walk self-represented litigants through the process, forms, and procedures they will encounter at the courthouse.”

In addition to the potential benefits of AI, the presenters emphasized the need for litigants to interact with the court and its judicial officers to feel that they’ve been heard. “It’s important to note that generative AI is only a tool,” said Justice Greenwood. “It’s not an end, and it’s not a substitute for judicial decision making and due process.” Watch

Other Items on the Council Meeting Agenda:

Presiding Remotely in Civil Cases: The council approved a new rule of court on when a judicial officer may preside remotely over a civil proceeding from a location other than a courtroom. With approval from the presiding judge, the rule allows for presiding remotely in limited circumstances when doing so is in the interest of justice, such as when safety is an issue, no courtrooms are available, or to prevent a significant delay that would substantially prejudice the litigants. Watch

Changes to CARE Act Rules and Forms: The council approved revisions to rules of court and forms related to the sealing of records, communications between the CARE Act court and the juvenile court, notification of respondent’s attorney in certain parallel or related legal proceedings, and limits on authorized communication.

Report on Pretrial Programs: The council received a report on court programs and practices that promote the safe, efficient, fair, and timely pretrial release of individuals booked into jail. Data collected from the pretrial program showed pretrial release rates increased for both felonies and misdemeanors while rearrest/rebooking rates decreased.

Increasing Numbers of Court Interpreters: The council approved a proposal on how to allocate money provided in the 2023-24 state budget for a five-year pilot program to increase the number of court interpreter employees. Funding will go toward reimbursing potential interpreters for costs associated with their training, coursework, and examination fees.

Trial Court Financial Policies and Procedures Manual: The council approved updates to the Trial Court Financial Policies and Procedures Manual, which provides a system of fundamental internal controls that helps trial courts monitor their use of public funds, provide consistent and comparable financial statements, and demonstrate accountability. Watch

Appointment to Board of State and Community Corrections: The council approved the reappointment of Judge Janet Gaard (ret.) to the Board of State and Community Corrections, an independent statutory agency that provides leadership to the adult and juvenile criminal justice systems and expertise on public safety realignment issues.

The complete meeting agenda and council reports are posted to the California Courts Meeting Information Center--an archived webcast of today’s meeting will be posted to the center as soon as it is available.