Accelerating Legal Discovery with Axon Justice
Case Study: Colorado 21st Judicial District
Running low on staff and high on case workload, the Colorado 21st Judicial District Attorney’s Office believed innovative technology was the key to maintaining operational standards. “The mission of our agency,” said District Attorney Dan Rubinstein, “is to deliver good quality prosecution and good service in all cases in an environment of limited resources —and we see next-generation technology as a big part of how we realize that goal.”
The DA Office staff prides themselves on the individual care they give each case, but recent staffing attrition and the impact of tech on their workload was making a hard job feel almost impossible.
- Staff Attrition: “Like the rest of the state and country, we are currently facing a staffing shortage,” said Tricia Watson, Director of Support Services at the DA’s Office. “With our line of work, it is difficult to keep attorneys with manageable caseloads. We lose many good attorneys due to the content of their work —it is hard to ask a career prosecutor to work on traumatic cases daily. It wears on them.”
- Increasing Workload: “There is so much digital evidence to review these days,” said Rubinstein. “It never used to be like this. The Boston bombing was solved using security cameras, but these days cameras are everywhere. If you have six officers with body cameras recording a 45-minute encounter, that’s four hours of footage that must be reviewed. And we’re not even talking about smartphones, etc. The fact that we have all this evidence helps ensure justice is done, but it also significantly increases our workload.”
Grappling with these challenges, the DA Office needed to find a way of doing more than they ever had with less. The answer came from a familiar source: Their longtime tech partner, Axon.
Justice Premier is the first digital evidence management system specifically designed for prosecutors and criminal defense attorneys. The Premier platform has numerous features to help legal professionals rapidly process mountains of digital evidence to streamline the discovery process, including:
- Centralized evidence management: Premier is a hub for all your digital evidence, including body-worn video, in-car video, interview room video, CCTV video, photographs, audio, and documents.
- Accelerated evidence review: Premier enables faster evidence review via unlimited automatic transcriptions, simultaneous video reviews, and more.
- Easy file sharing: Premier makes it easy to share digital evidence within your team — and it’s also free to share evidence with partners and stakeholders.
- Comprehensive evidence tracking: Premier ensures you keep tabs on every piece of digital evidence so you can be confident that nothing falls through the cracks.
After demoing the software, the DA office decided to move forward and implement the solution. “The implementation was fairly seamless,” Hannah Holloway, the DA Office’s support staff supervisor, recalled.
Jordan Weimer, the supervising paralegal at the office, said, “It is a huge help for us to have a team of individuals who are readily available and willing to help us navigate the program and evolve it into the best fit for our office and needs. The Axon team goes above and beyond to understand what our structure looks like so they know what features of Axon will best help and suit us. They are extremely responsive when we have questions and are always willing to jump in and help us fix any issue we may be experiencing.”
Along with the exceptional customer service, the DA Office found Axon’s product training and software’s intuitiveness contributed to the smooth adoption process. As Watson recounted, “The training was quick and helpful. It is hard to train our staff all at the same time. It is also difficult to show them something new without allowing them to play around with the software. But Justice Premier is very user-friendly, and it was not a huge change for them from what they were used to.”
Premier directly impacted the DA Office’s performance, especially in the two areas they sought to address with the solution.
- Enhancing Retention: Premier made the staff feel right at home, reducing menial labor and mitigating burnout. “Attorneys and support staff members don’t get as frustrated or feel so lost when they are in the system, which takes one more thing off their already full plates,” Weimer said. “I think Premier has a better way of tracking things so there isn’t as much duplication. Premier is more specific about what has been shared and what hasn’t, eliminating the room for confusion. The program is more attorney friendly, so the attorneys are taking advantage of the new features it has to offer.”
- Boosting Productivity: Premier made everything about the legal discovery process more efficient. “We’re moving along faster and can back up our actions — like sending out links or viewing videos — quickly
and easily,” Holloway reported. “We can see if there is new evidence immediately, and there is a lot less guesswork.” Watson noted that “adding transcription was a large factor in determining whether we wanted Premier. The ability to create our own cases and edit the files in Premier has been a big help to us.” Weimer summed up her colleagues’ thoughts with this observation: “I think Premier’s user-friendliness contributes to the overall ease of the office and helps the day-to-day operations run a lot more seamlessly.”
Rubinstein echoed the sentiments of his staff and added a few other benefits to the list: “Premier helps us save on storage, save on information sharing, and ensures we are not custodians of the evidence. Its review system also helped solve the multiple camera angle issues, sometimes collapsing 12 hours of parallel footage into a single hour of evidence.”
“In other words,” he concluded, “it’s making it possible for us to deal with the flood of information we’re now receiving on so many of our cases.”
To see the impact Axon Justice could have on your agency or law firm and to learn more, visit axon.com/justice.