Law is a continual performance. Legal systems are human-made constructs that establish collective values to govern and control society. We perform these systems daily, following their rules and logic. Through this constant performance law appears objective, fixed and factual - illusions that maintain the system’s power and cement hierarchies. Courtrooms are the epicentre of this charade, where legal structures are promoted through procedure and performance, with rituals and symbolism exerting the law’s authority, both over the case in hand and the system at large. This is amplified through the recent media presence of courtroom trials, with the US televising real cases, and the popularity of fictional legal dramas. These pop culture trials frame the popular perception of law, demonstrating an idealistic, biased representation of the legal system. 

In 1932, the legal realist philosopher Jerome Frank asked ‘Are Judges Human?’ - considering their claims to objectivity through courtroom performance and ritual.  However, what would happen if judges really were not human, but instead Artificial Intelligences?

Law is a fertile sector for AI, with the growing industry of Law Tech already capitalising on this potential. Within this concealed algorithmic legal decision making, biases - usually along racial and socioeconomic lines – proliferate unchecked. Considering a future where the legal system is maintained by AI, courtroom trials will no longer be necessary, decisions will be made instantaneously through algorithms, the mechanisms of law will be invisible, and the subjective biases acknowledged but hidden. So, the performance of law will have to remain, to foster trust and validate the system.