Photo: Trialpad by Lit Software
People are constantly looking at their phone. There are, it seems, apps for everything except alerting the person ahead of you that the light is green. If you are sitting in a crowded restaurant and a song comes on the radio, and no one at your table can remember what it is, there are apps that will immediately and accurately recognize and tag it. As of May 2017, there were 2.2 million apps available in the App store, up 200,000 from what it had been eleven months before. It is estimated that by 2020 there will be 5 million. In May 2017 alone, 48,231 apps were released. The legal system has certainly not been left behind when it comes to app technology, and it is being embraced by people at every stage from utilizing court services, avoiding court, being in court, and being followed up by courts.
Some apps are meant to be used before the court proceedings begin. One company that provides apps for the criminal justice system and community improvement is Citrus Heights, Calif.-based LogicTreeIT Solutions. Seth Weinger, national director of Sales, initiated the app in a Neighborhood Watch capacity in an attempt to empower communities. LogicTreeIT works with communication apps. “Ours is about mass notification,” he notes.
Among them is USPDhub, which is a community outreach tool for today’s law enforcement agencies. USPDhub provides critical two-way communication between law enforcement and the communities they serve, assisting police and sheriffs engage with communities and help lower crime. The app allows law enforcement agencies to send information to their communities via smartphone or tablet.
Among those options are push notifications, a Cloud-based solution that is similar to the Amber alerts that are sent to every cell phone in a specified area. USPDhub allows public safety to quickly distribute information via push notifications to their communities regarding crime events, shelter-in-place orders, missing persons, and traffic incidents. Images also can be linked using a drag-and-drop feature. Details can be sent to the media and updated as the situation evolves. Administrators simply link images and automatically publish event details to social media at the push of a button. For example, the Lompoc, Calif., Police Department sends out a phone ring once a week. It might note that they plan on cracking down on speeders the following week and in which area. The idea, says Weinger, is not that the police are trying to give out tickets. They are trying to change the way people think and get them to discuss the matter around the coffee pot and not speed in the first place.
The app also allows citizens to identify issues in their community and help with investigations by providing crime tips (anonymously if they prefer), and sending messages and images. The anonymous tip aspect has proven useful. Weinger points out that oftentimes people who are trying to make improvements to their community by alerting authorities don’t know who to alert. People often call police for non-police related incidents, and when they are told “no,” the relationship with the police could then slightly degrade. If a person in the mall sees a suspicious bag, who do they call? Every minute that goes by lowers the chance of them doing anything about it. Now they can take a picture, and with the app it will be sent to the appropriate authority such as dispatch or mall security. It can be used for things such as reporting graffiti, which is usually a prosecutorial crime, and there is now evidence to use in court for the prosecution. The anonymous tip feature is truly anonymous, says Weinger. It can’t be subpoenaed.
There are apps used in courtrooms. Broward County, Fla., has recently undergone a significant upgrade to their courtrooms. At an info session, Tara Cheever, product manager at LIT Software, LLC, noticed how many lawyers asked about hooking up iPads. Lawyers, she says, want to do trial presentations themselves. “This is a real signal that lawyers see a value in the technology.” Apps that run on iPads and tablets have enormous benefits. They are mobile. With the company’s app called TrialPad, an attorney can walk around the courtroom and hand it to a witness to work it up. The attorney can then save the annotation and place an exhibit sticker on it. Users can store and access documents from an iPad. It includes presentation tools that can focus on sections of documents, highlight text, compare documents side by side, show and edit video clips, and add exhibit stickers to documents.
The app can also make organization for attorneys easier. Each matter is stored in a separate folder, and all documents and multimedia can be re-ordered and moved within the app. Cases and folders can be color-coded or customized with icon options so the user will easily locate the specific matter or document. The archive tool backs up cases, complete with annotations and key docs, so that users can share a case with another user, duplicate the case onto a backup iPad, or store it in another location if the proceeding is delayed or continued. The app features full electronic presentation capability on an iPad and requires no companion desktop or cloud software.
Another app LIT Software offers is TranscriptPad, an app used to review, search, issue code, and summarize transcripts. TranscriptPad can be used to organize transcripts and exhibits and take them wherever they are needed for review. The app automatically places in folders and organizes according to deponent name and date, which makes it easy to locate a transcript. Exhibits are stored and accessed so users can review them without losing his or her page or train of thought. Users can select an exhibit in the built-in exhibits file, review it, and when he or she closes it, the transcript will be waiting.
The user can also read hands-free and in three or fewer taps assign issue codes, highlight, or flag and comment on any section of the transcript. Users can print or email individual transcripts with markups, or send an entire case folder with all issue codes and exhibits from an iPad to another TranscriptPad user for a second pass, which can save time, paper, and effort. Users reviewing the transcript can then search for key words through hundreds of transcripts in seconds. All results appear in context and can be easily organized. Users can carry all their transcripts in one app, create unlimited issue codes with color coding, highlight or underline designations to create deposition summaries, flag important sections and add notes, export customized reports of reviewed transcripts in PDF, text, or Excel formats, search one or all depositions of a witness (or all transcripts in a case), review exhibits as they read the transcript, send the case, with all designations and annotations, to other TranscriptPad users, email designations to co-counsel, expert witnesses, or clients, and quickly jump to any page and line of any transcript.
Shadowtrack is a Covington, La.-based provider of solutions in corrections using voice biometric technology. Robert Magaletta says, “The Shadowtrack biometric platform is a powerful and complete community supervision package that includes a suite of comprehensive compliance services, that can be implemented individually, or as a complete solution, with no geographical restrictions.” The core elements of the app are voice verification, facial recognition, and mobile application. The core services include curfew management self-report (interactive voice interview), location verification, enrollee notifications with optional delivery verification, enhanced random drug test notifications with message verification delivery, random sobriety testing, and pretrial/diversion management.
Among the features is the curfew management module, which allows the user to verify that an enrollee is at a designated location at a specific time. The application uses voice verification and facial recognition during inbound/outbound curfew calls to identify the enrollee. The service allows the user to schedule random calls at a desired frequency, which will be placed outbound to the enrollee or the enrollee will be required to call into the system from the designated location. The application uses a feature that will alert the user if the enrollee is calling from an unauthorized phone number. The user will be notified if the enrollee fails to successfully complete inbound/outbound curfew calls due to no answer, hang ups, busy signals, and voicemails.
The location services module allows the user to verify the enrollee is at a designated location. It utilizes cellular network tracking along with dual location verification technology and GPS positioning to determine the whereabouts of an enrollee. This service can be paired with voice verification and facial recognition to ensure the enrollee is in fact with the telephone device during location verification. The app allows the agency to monitor the location of an enrollee during a specific time frame and monitor if he or she is attempting to enter a restricted area. This can be done at a specific address or within an entire state. It can also detect location spoofing.
Other Shadowtrack features include the VeriTest module, which offers a turnkey solution to refine the entire drug testing process including payment collection, verified notifications, integration with testing facilities, and final test result integrated into the platform, and the tether device, which is paired with the app via Bluetooth. In the event that Bluetooth is disconnected, a verification call is prompted to ensure the enrollee is with their mobile device and verify Bluetooth connection with the tether device is reestablished. A non-compliance notification will be sent to the user if the Bluetooth signal is lost or there is any attempt to tamper with or cut the tether. The user will also be notified when a signal from the tether device is not received within a given a period of time or the enrollee is found to be outside the designated monitoring area.
People are constantly looking at their phones. There is not much they can’t do with them. The computer technology used to send people to the moon pales in comparison to what most people carry in their pocket. Time is saved, pressure is taken off personnel, files are organized, and paper is saved. There are few certainties in life, but every minute of each day, someone somewhere around the world can say there’s an app for that. CT