Information Accessibility

Using AI to Make Quebec’s Criminal Docket Clearer

A Case Study regarding the Use of Artificial Intelligence to Promote Access to Justice

Artificial Intelligence holds promise when it comes to access to justice. Among other things, it can increase legal information’s accessibility. Scholars affiliated with the Cyberjustice lab developed a “translation tool” leveraging AI to make Quebec’s criminal docket – a legal document that is hard to decipher – more accessible.

This workshop reunites these scholars with other academics and stakeholders from diverse backgrounds to reflect on the challenges and opportunities of using AI to promote access to judicial information.

Panel 1 Diagnosing the problem: The inaccessibility of Quebec’s criminal docket

Pierre Noreau (modérateur)Alexandra Parada, Eve Gaumond and Nicholas LeBlanc (LISNS)

12:30 pm - 1:50 pm

Interdisciplinarity is a necessary condition for the development of successful cyberjustice initiatives. Computer scientists need to work hand in hand with lawyers, social scientists and stakeholders who have experience within the justice system, in order to identify and circumscribe the problems they want to solve.  

Such an interdisciplinary process increases the likelihood of developing the “right solution” for the “right problem” instead of solutions responding to low-priority problems or to problems that are ill-defined or far too complex to be addressed with technological solutions.

This first panel conveys two scholars who have studied the lack of accessibility of Quebec’s criminal docket, as well as a lawyer working on the ground with real litigants struggling to understand legal information. These three panellists will explain what is the docket, who are the main users of the docket as well as the result of their research as to the factors making the docket inaccessible. Moreover, they’ll also touch on the consequences of this problem in terms of access to justice.

Relevant literature

  • Legal Information in Digital Form: The Challenge of Accessing Computerized Court Records (Prom Tep, Millerand, Noreau et al. )
  • Digital Court Records: A Diversity of Uses (Parada, Prom Tep, Millerand et Noreau)
  • Comprendre le plumitif : L’intelligence artificielle au service de la clarté de l’information judiciaire? (Gaumond)


Pierre Noreau is a professor at the Centre de recherche en droit public of the Université de Montréal where he has worked since 1998. He is a political scientist and jurist by training. He works more specifically in the field of the sociology of law. His empirical research focuses on the functioning and evolution of the judicial system, non-contentious conflict resolution, access to justice and the political mobilization of law, ethnocultural diversity and law from a perspective informed by both legal pluralism and the study of the processes of institutionalization of social relations.

Eve Gaumond is a researcher working in the field of information technology. A lawyer by training (LLB, LLM, Bar Admission Course), she is particularly interested in artificial intelligence, online freedom of expression and privacy rights in a digital context. Her work has been published in leading legal and computer science journals, and she occasionally appears in the media. She can be read on Lawfare, an American media with which she collaborates.

Alexandra Parada  holds a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Philosophy from the University of Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne, as well as a Master of Arts in International Studies from the University of Montreal. She is currently a doctoral student in law at the Université du Québec à Montréal. Her doctoral research focuses on the discriminatory impacts of AI systems. She is generally interested in the ethical issues of AI and the normativity surrounding them. Since 2018, she has been working on access to docketing in Quebec, from the perspective of access to justice for all. She is affiliated with LabCMO, the HumanIA research collective and the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research on Diversity and Democracy (CRIDAQ).

Nicholas LeBlanc (il/lui) has a Bachelor of Social Work from the University of Victoria and a Bachelor of Laws from the Université de Moncton. He was a staff lawyer for several years with Nova Scotia Legal Aid before deciding to focus on public legal education. He previously worked as a lawyer at a bilingual legal information centre in Halifax, and since 2018 he has been working as a public legal educator with the Legal Information Society of Nova Scotia. He is Acadian and provides legal information in both French and English.

Panel 2The right solution for the right problem: Using Technology to Make the Docket Clearer

Pierre-Luc Déziel, Nicolas Garneau, Myriam Delisle and Hannes Westermann

1:50 pm - 3:10 pm

The second panel will focus on the ways AI and design can be used to tackle the inaccessibility problem introduced in the first panel. The “translation tool” will serve as a starting point to kick off the discussion regarding how we can use technology to promote access to legal information.

Among the topics addressed: the pros and cons of state-of-the-art language models and how the strengths and weaknesses of this kind of AI compare with those of less novel technologies. The panelists will also reflect on how personally identifying information contained in the docket should be dealt with and discuss how AI can be used in conjunction with low-tech solutions such as information design or human-performed tasks to address the inaccessibility of judicial information meaningfully.

Relevant literature :

  • Evaluating Legal Accuracy of Neural Generators on the Generation of Criminal Court Dockets Description (Garneau, Gaumond, Déziel et al.)
  • 5Q IA CLARTÉ PLUMCr QC : Cinq questions permettant d’appréhender l’usage d’intelligence artificielle pour accroître la clarté du plumitif criminel québécois (Gaumond, Garneau)
  • Generating Intelligible Plumitifs Descriptions: Use Case Application with Ethical Considerations (Gaumond, Garneau, Déziel et al.).


Pierre-Luc Déziel is an ACT researcher. He is a professor in the Faculty of Law at Université Laval. After obtaining a bachelor's degree in political science and philosophy from McGill University and a master's degree in history and political theory from Sciences Po Paris, he did his doctoral studies in law at the Centre de recherche en droit public of the Université de Montréal. He is currently in charge of the "Valorization of judicial data: privacy, intellectual property and open data" project of the Autonomisation des acteurs judiciaires par la cyberjustice (Empowerment of judicial actors through cyberjustice) of the Cyberjustice Laboratory of the Université de Montréal. He also co-directs the "Law, cyberjustice and cybersecurity" axis of the International Observatory on the Societal Impacts of AI and Digital Technologies. His research focuses on the impact of technologies on the right to privacy.

Nicolas Garneau is a PhD candidate at Laval University. He has many years of experience in software development and data engineering, both in academia and industry. He specializes in automatic natural language processing, which makes him an expert in information extraction, classification, and automatic generation of textual content. He is an affiliated researcher with the Intelligence and Data Institute, the International Observatory on the Societal Impacts of Artificial Intelligence and Digital Technology, and the Costal Lab at the University of Copenhagen.

Myriam Delisle
 is a graduate in law from the University of Sherbrooke. She has been practicing labour law for several years. Throughout her academic career, she has carried out numerous mandates of popularization and visualization of legal information. In 2016, she won an award from the Paul-André Crépeau Centre of Private and Comparative Law of McGill University for the design of a scientific poster in law. Convinced that design is one of the most promising avenues to address the contemporary and complex issues facing the law, she is completing a master's degree in interaction design at Université Laval in 2022 to further her knowledge and skills in this area. Lawyer and passionate designer, she offers her services as a legal design consultant, particularly thanks to her expertise in information design, UX design and service design.

Hannes Westermann is a PhD candidate in the field of artificial intelligence and law at the Université de Montréal. He works at the Cyberjustice Laboratory and is the lead researcher of the JusticeBot project. JusticeBot is an online platform that aims to improve public access to justice through the use of artificial intelligence. Since launching in July 2021, JusticeBot has been accessed by over 11,000 users. Hannes has published and presented his research on applying machine learning and natural language processing to legal documents at multiple international conferences, including the “International Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Law (ICAIL)” 2019 and 2021, and the “International Conference on Legal Knowledge and Information Systems (JURIX)” 2019 and 2020, where his work was given the Best Paper Award.

Panel 3 Assessing the effectivity of the solution : Empirical Experiment with Users

Jacquelyn Burkell, Amy Salyzyn, Florence Millerand, Sandrine Prom Tep, Aurore Clément Troussel

3:10 pm - 4:30 pm

Designing cyberjustice technologies is an iterative process. At various points throughout the process, developers should consult with people whose life or work are likely to be impacted by the innovation. Indeed, inclusion is a crucial factor in cyberjustice initiatives’ success. Without inclusion, innovations are likely to fail to attract or support those they intend to help.

This last panel builds upon the two previous ones: the first panel discussed how stakeholders worked with the developers of the “translation tool” to circumscribe the inaccessibility problem of the docket; the second panel introduced the “translation tool” per se and talked about the issues that developers faced during its development.

Finally, this third panel will discuss how to work with users to assess the effectiveness of such a tool and collect insights on how to improve it. Speakers will discuss the functional literacy framework – a framework used to measure the ability of people to read information and understand it sufficiently well to use it to perform some tasks. Next, they’ll present studies rooted in the functional literacy framework they’ve done with the docket and other legal documents such as court forms or website privacy policies. And from there, they’ll move on to discuss paths forwards to design experimental methods measuring the effectiveness of cyberjustice technologies built to promote access to legal information.

Relevant literature

  • Digital Court Records: A Diversity of Uses (Prom Tep, Millerand, Parada, Noreau  et al,)
  • What Makes Court Forms Complex? Studying Empirical Support for a Functional Literacy Approach (Salyzyn, Burkell et al)
  • Literacy Requirements of Court Documents: An Underexplored Barrier to Access to Justice (Salyzyn, Burkell et al)
  • Fixing Broken Doors: Strategies for Drafting Privacy Policies Young People Can Understand (Burkell et al.)


Jacquelyn Burkell is an ACT researcher. She is currently Associate Vice-President (Research). She holds a PhD in Psychology (Cognitive Science) from Western and is an associate professor in the Faculty of Information & Media Studies. Jacquelyn served as the faculty’s Assistant Dean of Research for seven years and chaired the Associate Deans (Research) group from 2016-2018. Throughout her career, Jacquelyn has served on a wide variety of academic committees, including the 2016 URB Task Force Steering Committee – Support for Research in Social Sciences, Arts, and Humanities at Western.

Amy Salyzyn is an ACT researcher and an Associate Professor at the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Law. She is a member of the Law Society of Ontario. Amy is the President of the Canadian Association for Legal Ethics. She has also served as co-chair of the board of the National Association of Women and the Law and as a “Learned Counsel Advisor” for the National Association of Bar Counsel (US), Entity Regulation Committee.

Sandrine Prom Tep is a professor in the Marketing Department of the School of Management Sciences (ESG) at UQAM. Her research interests include e-service quality (UX and HMI), digital consumer behavior (Internet and mobile), and the social web and C2C.

Aurore Troussel is a PhD student in law and innovation at the University of Montreal and HEC Paris. Her research focuses on the normative value of computer code and digital platforms. Aurore works as a research assistant at the Cyberjustice Laboratory, where she mainly works on the development of machine learning algorithms for the analysis of court decisions. Aurore also works for the SMART Law Hub, a research laboratory in law and artificial intelligence attached to HEC Paris and the Institut Polytechnique.

This conference is part of the Cycle "Accessibility: the new frontier for online justice"

This content has been updated on 21 November 2022 at 10 h 29 min.