Munus Publicum, No See ‘Um

Starting in mid-February, New York City will implement a new online bidding system to help settle personal injury cases filed against the city. Similar to EBay, the tool, called Cybersettle, allows plaintiffs and defendants to enter offers for settlement. If the offers overlap — or near each other — the system sends both parties an alert, and the settlement is reached.

While I can understand and appreciate the efficiencies introduced by this system, this abridgement of the legal system and process frightens me somewhat. It must benefit the city, if the city is implementing it. But in the case of personal injury claims made against the city, it feels as though some power and access to city leaders is being taken away from the citizenry. Especially given the recent accidental pedestrian electrocution, I question whether this better meets the needs of area residents — or furthers justice.

If your Latin is rusty, the “munus publicum” in the title of this entry means “public office.” Now, “You can’t fight City Hall” no longer applies. Enter, “You can’t see City Hall.”