“The key to victory lies in coordinated teamwork" - discussion with the Hungarian THEMIS team members


In the THEMIS competition organized by the European Judicial Training Network (EJTN), the Hungarian team has never achieved such a big success before. The trio made up of dr. Franciska Zsófia Gyuranecz, dr. Dorottya Papp and dr. Bernadett Krausz trainee judges won semi-final D in Sofia, Bulgaria, and received a special prize for the best visual performance. The team tutored by judge dr. Bálint Kovács wrote their paper on judicial ethics and professional conduct dealing with the relation between artificial intelligence and judicial ethics. Recently the members of the team spoke about their preparation, experience at the competition and their training for the final.

When you started preparing for the competition, you did not know each other yet. How did you coordinate work at the beginning? What were the biggest difficulties you had?
dr. Bernadett Krausz: After applying for THEMIS, we got to know each other first, then we chose the topic and started research. The preparation involved both individual and collective work.
dr. Dorottya Papp: Bridging the geographical distance meant a problem at first since we work in three different courts in Hungary.
dr. Franciska Zsófia Gyuranecz: I agree, the distance was what we had to overcome at the beginning, but with technological tools it was feasible, so the team got on well very fast. We all realized quickly each other's strengths and that how we could complement each other.

Does this mean that everyone had a different duty within the team?
dr. Bernadett Krausz: Exactly. We divided the study into three major sections. I wrote mainly the first, the introduction and the summary. These paragraphs deal with the appearance of artificial intelligence in the private sector in different countries, and what has happened so far in relation to artificial intelligence and the judiciary.
dr. Franciska Zsófia Gyuranecz: The second part was mine. It includes case studies on the actual applicability of artificial intelligence in judicial proceedings, particularly in the area of criminal law. We took examples from the USA where there has been a specific court case where the decision rendered by artificial intelligence was challenged.
dr. Dorottya Papp: The third part written by me dealt with the relation between the right to a fair trial and artificial intelligence. In addition, we have raised ethical issues that may arise in relation to artificial intelligence and the judiciary. Finally, we also worked out a draft recommendation for the courts which can be followed in the judicial application of artificial intelligence.

Why did you choose the issue of artificial intelligence?
dr. Krausz Bernadett: This is now a trendy subject and becoming more and more in focus. There is a great deal of work on it, especially abroad, and we thought it was worth talking about the ethical issues it raises and about how it is transforming the court itself and the judicial principles as well.
dr. Dorottya Papp: We knew that we wanted to write a paper in the context of digitalization. But this competition was basically about judicial ethics, European law and the right to a fair trial. So, digitalization had to be combined with these aspects, and we thought that artificial intelligence could be a successful topic.
dr. Franciska Zsófia Gyuranecz: We can say that none of us had any knowledge about artificial intelligence, it was rather far from us, but we approached it with interest. Although it is a huge, diverse subject, we had to find the focal points that are necessary for a legal study.

As you mentioned, this is an extremely fresh field, therefore, legal literature may not yet exist in the subject. What sources did you use?
dr. Dorottya Papp: Correct, there is little legal literature on artificial intelligence. Foreign sources were mainly available. We used particularly newspaper articles and very recent studies form the past 1-2 years. The challenge was that it is a changing area, and there was always something new coming up, so it was hard for us to keep up with the changes . There was always something extra to read that went beyond our previous research.
Dr. Bálint Kovács was your tutor . How did you work together? Was he strict or did he rather let you freely work out  your concept?
dr. Bernadett Krausz: We were in contact with our tutor via phone and in person. We could call each other practically anytime, we could always count on him. He let us fulfil our vision, but at the same time he guided us in a common direction to reach unity.
dr. Franciska Zsófia Gyuranecz: Dr. Bálint Kovács was very helpful to us. Practically, he was the strategist of the team who always knew what we needed. He always felt when we needed to take a break, he always knew which way to approach the subject. He gave us very useful advice both in the written paper and in the preparation of the presentation. It is thanks to him that everything looked perfect technically and lined up in the jury as if we were professional speakers.

This is proven by the fact that you received a special prize for the best visual presentation. Why did you get this prize after all?
dr. Bernadett Krausz: Actually, this special prize was given to us by the hosts, the Bulgarian team, last year’s finalist and one of the leaders of the National Institute Justice. We deserved the reward for the best communication with the audience, the best visual elements and the harmony of the performance.
dr. Franciska Zsófia Gyuranecz: It took a lot of work and energy. We revised occasionally the same text three or four times. We re-created the image of the lecture and the whole presentation in the last minute, and finalized it in a different way. During the preparation, this seemed a bit useless and even hair-splitting, but it was worth in the end.
dr. Dorottya Papp: We spent a whole week preparing specifically for the presentation. The text has been worked out precisely. We knew what we wanted to share with the audience from our study. In addition, we were prepared for the jury questions, so we were able to give confident answers in the discussion section.

The final will be on 8-11 October. What kind of preparation does await you?
dr. Franciska Zsófia Gyuranecz: We do not take our previous research to the final, but we need to deal with the case law of the European Court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights, more precisely, their case law on the right to a fair trial.
dr. Bernadett Krausz: We will get the concrete case two weeks before the final. In the meantime, we will prepare professionally, and then the processing of the specific case and the preparation of a lecture will come. Just like before the semi-final, we will move to the Hungarian Academy of Justice for several days. We are very grateful for this opportunity and for the technical background as well which was a key to a successful performance as well.

What is the biggest benefit of this competition to you?
dr. Bernadett Krausz: It is a lifetime experience. We got in touch with European colleagues and got to know other legal systems and judicial training methods. The fact that we could experience such things is unique. If I want to research a legal topic in an international context, I already have a number of contacts to turn to.
dr. Dorottya Papp: It helped us develop our foreign language knowledge. In the last phase of the competition, we had to think actually in English. On the other hand, we learned how to work in a team, recognized each other's strengths and weaknesses, and thus we complemented each other to work together for a good result.
dr. Franciska Zsófia Gyuranecz: It was a challenge that got us completely out of our comfort zone. Every preparation has its ups and downs, so were they during THEMIS. But before finishing the written paper, we felt that we gained a wealth of knowledge and useful experience, even if we did not get any prize. We managed to get to know our own limits and we stretched them. In addition, all of it was in English, in an international environment, in front of an international professional jury – it is an unforgettable experience.
The next competition for the winners is the THEMIS final on 8-11 October taking place in Bordeaux, France. The National Office for the Judiciary wishes the whole team good luck and success both in preparation and at the performance.