Why public defenders should prioritize customization and digital document management to make massive caseloads more manageable
Working as a public defender is a demanding job, but it doesn’t have to be an exhausting one. Attorneys and legal professionals of all stripes know the majority of their work occurs outside of the courtroom, with hours spent sharing, reviewing and submitting key evidence and documents to ensure their clients benefit from every advantage possible. With the right public defender case management software, much of the time-consuming administrative work around these processes can be streamlined and automated, eliminating potential errors and producing better outcomes for clients.
But you’re already busy working every day (and sometimes night) to make sure your clients are represented fairly and their rights are being protected. If you’re going to overhaul your process, you need to find a platform that makes the transition as painless and efficient as possible – and to ensure you make the right choice the first time. It starts with understanding what public defender case management software is and how it can help.
What is public defender case management software?
Public defender case management software consolidates all the tools defense attorneys need to collect, store, track, update and share the evidence they use throughout a criminal case into one comprehensive digital platform. Most allow legal professionals to upload digital evidence and other key documents into a secure cloud environment, store it in an on-premises hard drive or use a combination of the two. This kind of software has seen widespread adoption as digital evidence has become a common part of criminal law proceedings.
Here are some of the most prominent benefits of using case management software:
Increased efficiency: Storing, sorting, and searching through evidence can be a time-consuming process, especially as digital evidence acquired from smartphones, security cameras, and officers’ body-worn cameras becomes an ever larger part of many cases. Public defender case management software reduces or outright eliminates the busywork associated with evidence processing and discovery through automated storage and search systems.
Automated compliance: CJIS standards and other regulations mean public defenders must take care in how they handle and submit documentation. Using dedicated software that is designed to facilitate federal, state and local compliance at each step of the process can make the difference between smooth proceedings and drawn-out headaches.
Better outcomes: Public defenders frequently have full – or overfull – caseloads. Every minute they don’t have to spend on documentation and compliance is a minute they can spend on giving clients the individual attention they deserve and crafting more compelling arguments to use in court. That means better outcomes, higher job satisfaction and less turnover.
Each legal practice is different, but the common concerns of caseload management mean it’s a task best handled with a dedicated platform. Adopting public defender case management software that implements bulk actions, deeply integrated access controls and automated tagging suggestions can make a massive difference in the work and lives of legal professionals as well as the clients they represent.
Axon Justice Premier is purpose-built to create a better caseload management experience by breaking down data silos across your team and creating a single, secure home for digital evidence – all with customizable tools for automated compliance and fast, secure sharing. Visit our product page to learn more.
7 key features of public defender case management software
The value of public defender case management software is clear, but how do you know which one is right for your team, so you only need to make the switch once? Look for these seven key features.
The ideal public defender case management software will be deeply customizable to support the unique processes of your office – ranging from individual preferences to particular compliance concerns for the courts in which you work. Look for software that supports customizable user permissions to ensure the right people have access to the right files, as well as configurable retention schedules that store different documents for different periods based on the type of case they’re associated with, then automatically revoke access when needed.
For public defenders who work as part of a legal team, built-in collaborative features will speed up and secure your case handling throughout the process. Prioritize a solution that allows you to share evidence and other documents at no extra charge with partners and other stakeholders, all while facilitating no-hassle disclosure to ensure both sides of the courtroom have quick and complete access to the materials they need.
Better results in the courtroom start with better document management. Don’t settle for public defender case management software that passively intakes key records while leaving the rest up to you. Software that supports automatic tagging of materials and powerful one-click search will make key information faster and easier to find, while automated transcription processes will help turn mountains of video and audio recordings into easily searched and referenced text files.
Strict standards of privacy for clients such as those mandated by CJIS are essential to the proper functioning of the justice system, so there’s no room for case management tools that don’t integrate security measures at every stage of the process. Opt for systems with deep user-level account controls to protect privacy at the user level, as well as full data encryption for information both in transit and at rest.
Along with data security, in-depth reporting and auditing tools are essential to ensuring only necessary parties have access to the proper materials. Your case management software should make it easy to review actions taken by other users within your organization. It should also feature automated analytics and auditing tools that make it easy to see at a glance how your system is being used, including who has reviewed, shared and deleted files.
Whether you’re part of a dedicated public defender office or are a private lawyer appointed by the court to represent an indigent client, your efforts deserve to be compensated fairly and accurately. Your case management software should make it easy to track which cases you’ve spent your time on and when, making the billing process straightforward and headache-free.
Integration with other systems
Data silos don’t just exist within teams — they exist within and between organizations too. Fortunately, public defender case management software that is built to integrate with other systems makes it easy to ensure each part of the justice system has access to the materials it needs for speedy and fair proceedings. Look for a solution that facilitates mandated sharing support between prosecutors and public defenders, as well as integration with records tools used by law enforcement officers.
Axon Justice Premier combines centralized digital evidence, discovery workflows and extensive file support to create an all-in-one solution for public defenders. It cuts down on document-driven busywork so you can focus on securing better outcomes for your clients. It’s both extensive and easy to use, and your office can count on in-depth assistance from Axon’s dedicated customer support team as you make the switch. Set up an Axon Justice demo today to find out more.