Video Evidence: A Common Courtroom Trial

Authored by Brad Smith, Senior Justice Consultant, ImageSoft 

Since I started supporting the justice community over 30 years ago, the evolution of the courtroom has been extraordinary and, in many ways, unforeseen. Of all the variables contributing to the modernization of the court process, technology continues to be the most significant influencer. Why? Because it’s also become a key tool in everyday life, transcending its purpose as simply “a cellphone” or “video camera” and serving as the fate-bearing evidence relied on by prosecutors, attorneys, judges, jury members, clerks, defendants and victims.  

In the brick-and-motor days of justice processes, the only evidence available were items found at the crime scene and eye-witness testimony. As explained in a recent “Police Chief” article, there is now a “silent witness” almost everywhere, available to document crimes and offer a play-back truth that truly speaks for itself. From patrol car and body cameras to mass transit surveillance and cell phone recordings, digital evidence is prevalent, but in lengthy files of numerous types – a nightmare for playback in both the courtroom and the Judge’s chambers. After all, it’s not necessarily easy or efficient to haul in and switch out 15-20 different play-back software pieces. And in the case of appeals, this tremendous effort could all be thrown out the window when the court can’t prove the integrity of the video and that it hasn’t been “tampered with” during a format change.  

Needless to say, digital evidence is a wide-spread, critical pain point throughout the legal process, it’s been extremely fulfilling to finally offer courts a best-in-class solution for multi-media evidence management. And the feedback has been tremendous! Courtroom staff, attorneys, and law enforcement have transformed the lifecycle of cases in both efficiency and integrity. With this tool, the access, review and analyzation of digital evidence has been enhanced in such a way that: 

  • Drag-drop-play functionality normalizes any and all video file types into a universal mp4 format, supporting seamless playback during investigations, proceedings or in the Judge’s chambers without sacrificing any quality 
  • Demonstrative exhibits and dynamic reports can easily be produced and shared, highlighting areas of the respective video, enhanced images and revealed metadata that were previously hidden 
  • Multiple angles of the same scene can be simultaneously played back in time-synced, side-by-side tiles 

In itself, this multi-media evidence playback tool has been a game-changer for justice community. But coupled with a digital workflow, as many of my customers have reported back, it’s revolutionary.  

A digital workflow, such as OnBase, allows for electronic case folders from start to finish. With electronic storage, case folders and workflow, prosecutors and public defenders are equipped with the tools and automation necessary to create the accurate, detailed storyboards that will enhance their positions. And because our digital evidence handling capability doesn’t change formats, as many legacy players and software do, the integrity of every video and audio file is protected and confirmed.  

And if you’re following the National Center for State Courts’ recommendation to adopt the Component Model approach (that is, snapping on best-of-class functionalities to design the best paperless process for your court, as opposed to ripping out the old for something entirely new), it’s never been easier to fund and implement the most up-to-date tools solving for today’s biggest courtroom pain points.  

The digital transformation of the court process that has unfolded over the past year has been, by far, the most well received and beneficial among the justice community, including court IT admins, Judges, attorneys, law enforcement and more. If you’d like to hear some use-case stories, schedule a demo or just gather more information, please feel free to contact us. The ImageSoft team, including myself, are always happy to talk tech! Submit an inquiry here, or head to our website and strike up an easy webchat with one of our client communications specialists. 

Cheers, 

Brad  

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