We've heard about courts issuing subpoenas in an effort to obtain the contents of text messages.
In Kazakhstan, however, they're turning the tables.
Starting on September 1, courts in Kazakhstan will be issuing subpoenas via text message. It's a monthlong pilot program aimed at streamlining the work of the judiciary, according to a representative of the Supreme Court who spoke to RFE/RL's Kazakh Service on condition of anonymity:
"This project will accelerate work on preparing court cases. As necessary, the participants of the case, witnesses, experts, specialists, interpreters can be called to the court by means of short messages to mobile phones."
The court representative says that officials will be able to tell if a subpoena was received using traditional cell-phone alert services provided by Kazakhtelecom. If a mobile telephone number is not available, subpoenas will be issued on paper and delivered through more traditional means.
It's unclear whether the SMS subpoenas apply to criminal as well as civil cases, with an official at one criminal court in Almaty professing to have no knowledge of the project.
The idea is being lambasted on social networks in Kazakstan. As one user named "Aktyubinets" railed:
"That's simply nonsense! What if I lose my phone or am outside the network zone or I can't receive SMSs because of some technical problem?"
In the view of Nurzhan Sadirbekuly, the SMS innovation is a good opportunity for citizens looking for an excuse to avoid court:
"This project will be useful for those people who are avoiding court because it will increase the number of such excuses as 'the phone was switched off' or 'I didn't see your SMS.' This raises a lot of doubts. For example, what if the person is far away, in the village where there is no mobile phone? For the person responsible, who didn't know about the court date and missed it, it will cause irreparable damage."
What's next? Verdicts by SMS? U R guilty :-(