By: Kevin Ledgister, Marketing Manager, ImageSoft
A day in the life of prosecuting attorneys is defined by the materials in their case files (often stored in banker’s boxes)…evidence, testimony and research. The piles of paperwork grow exponentially, with police reports, photos, victim and witness statements, discovery and investigation reports, and so on. Moving from arraignment, bail hearings, and motion hearings to trials – each step multiplies the size of the file. As prosecutors research precedent and review statutes, and coordinate with other attorneys, the court, police and other professionals – the pile grows.
No wonder some prosecuting attorneys arrive at the courthouse with banker’s boxes filled with paper.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
Technology is simplifying the way prosecuting attorneys deal with case files, by automating them and including functions to scan and store all types of documents, photos and video and audio files.
Prosecutors looking for ways to eliminate paper files should look for best-in-class solutions with these features.
Comprehensive electronic case file and workflow solution
Any solution designed for prosecuting attorneys should aid communication, manage discovery and related materials and be accessible via any smart device. The best solutions mirror how stakeholders interact with paper files by automating tasks such as searching cases by metadata, color-coding case files, and creating reporting dashboards that provide transparency and easy access. Such solutions should simplify the predictable, repeated steps following routing rules and process steps.
Above all else, they must integrate with any good functioning case management system already in place.
Web-based eFiling for law enforcement reduces paper handling and travel time to locate and obtain documents. These functions should integrate with the prosecutor’s case management and enterprise content management systems to create a paperless process.
Communication/integration with law enforcement
Prosecutors need a solution that manages the communication and interaction between law enforcement and the prosecutor’s office. Importantly, it should incorporate an electronic warrant request submission process. It should include such features as automated evidence submittal and subpoena management. To be fully functional, it should be integrated with law enforcement’s own records management system and include:
- Automated workflow to efficiently review and screen prosecution requests.
- Electronic discovery and digital management of all discovery materials.
- Easy and intuitive document capture features, including electronic document management, filing, and scanning.
- Automatic indexing of court notices, dispositions, electronic citations and any other documents from law enforcement to the electronic case file with no need for manual intervention.
- Electronic subpoena management
- Docket management so electronic case files are synced with the court docket.
A fully integrated and automatic discovery solution is necessary. It should streamline the receipt of initiating attorney appearance documents. A best-practices solution then would select discoverable documents, including photos, and audio and video files, and send them to the attorney of record with an automated discovery email function.
An electronic subpoena process should begin once a court notice has been received. As witnesses are selected, it should automatically generate personal subpoenas and send them to law enforcement. It then should automatically create a subpoena status report to track the service of subpoenas that attorneys can check while in court. As law enforcement enters the serve status in the system, the solution should update the electronic case file.
Prosecuting attorneys need an automated docket management process to assign and manage cases according to the court’s docket calendar. Rather than having to pull physical case files, prosecutors should be able to access the court’s dockets and electronically sync their case files via a simple key sequence. Whether automatically assigned based on pre-configured rules or manually assigned, court events should be managed by prosecutors using a docket management queue. The solution should include the routing of case files in real time from the courtroom to support staff at the end of a hearing.
Electronic signature tools
Electronic signature tools speed up justice, using tablets to sign complaints or petitions, rather than paper documents. They are a must-have on the list of potential solution features.
Time-sensitive activities require staff accountability; built-in alerts and notifications streamline processes and help staff meet deadlines.
Electronically controlling confidential information and redacting sensitive information serve to protect victims. Make sure the cause of victim’s rights and redaction process are fully integrated into the workflow.
How to Retire the Banker’s Boxes
Prosecutors can and should shed the burden of banker’s boxes filled with paper by selecting a technology solution the incorporates an electronic casefile and workflow solution.
Need more information about solutions for prosecutors? Contact ImageSoft today.