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"SF looks towards an imaginary future, while fantasy, by and large, looks towards an imaginary past."
- Frederik Pohl

Robot Judge  
  Artificially intelligent legal machine - robes and all.  

Carl Tritt, opportunistic payroll robber, receives a carefully calculated verdict.

The judge was impressive in his black robes and omniscient in the chromium perfection of his skull. His voice rolled like the crack of doom; rich and penetrating.

"Carl Tritt, this court finds you guilty as charged. On 218, 2143 you did willfully and maliciously steal the payroll of the Marcrix Corporation, a sum totaling 318,000 cr., and did attempt to keep these same credits for your own. The sentence is twenty years."

The black gavel fell with the precision of a pile driver and the sound bounced back and forth inside Carl's head. Twenty years. He bloodless fingers on the steel bar of justice and looked up into the judge's electronic eyes. There was perhaps a hint of compassion, but no mercy there. The sentence had been passed and recorded in the Central Memory. There was no appeal.

From Robot Justice, by Harry Harrison.
Published by Fantastic Universe in 1959
Additional resources -

Let's hope none of us hears this sound:

A sudden humming came from the robot judge as he stirred to life...
Harrison has this idea quite early; compare to the lawyer program in David Brin's 1990 novel Earth and LEX (Law Expert System) from Greg Egan's 1991 short story The Moat.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Robot Justice
  More Ideas and Technology by Harry Harrison
  Tech news articles related to Robot Justice
  Tech news articles related to works by Harry Harrison

Robot Judge-related news articles:
  - Artificial Neural Network Predicts Death Row Executions
  - Judges Who Google: The Tip Of The Iceberg?

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