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The Orleans Public Defenders office partners with JusticeText to leverage AI-powered discovery review in defense of their clients

Orleans pd

Posted March 31, 2023

JusticeText is excited to announce a partnership with the Investigations Division of the Orleans Public Defenders. The office was created in the wake of critical criminal justice failures following Hurricane Katrina and currently represents nearly 20,000 individuals in New Orleans each year.

Empathetic listening to uncover key facts and promote justice

Sara Jones and Lucy Hall lead the twelve-person Investigation Division at the Orleans Public Defenders. They dedicate their working hours to building connections with members of the New Orleans community, many of whom have faced some of life’s greatest challenges. By providing an empathetic ear, Sara and Lucy create space for community members to be seen and heard, as they share personal and often painful stories. As they build these connections, Sara and Lucy get to the key facts of the case to support the clients their office is defending.

This work is especially important in New Orleans, a community with historically high incarceration rates. In 2015, New Orleans incarcerated people at twice the national average and in 2017 made headlines for leading the country in wrongful convictions. Sara reflected on the importance of her team’s work in New Orleans.

"The criminal justice system in New Orleans in particular is massively unequal. It’s really important to me to have people’s stories be heard, especially the uncomfortable ones."

Video evidence changes the nature of investigation

In 2012, the City of New Orleans entered into a consent decree to reform policing in the city which included a requirement to expand video documentation of police activities. Since then, the Orleans Public Defenders have seen significant growth in body-worn camera footage and other audiovisual evidence. Sara and Lucy often stress the value of this footage to the attorneys they work with, as it shows how a person presents to law enforcement and can expose how facts differ from what was shared in the police report. However, it can be extremely time-consuming to review this footage, as Lucy explained.

"It’s analogous to the internet, where now the issue is that we have a huge amount of information and the challenge is figuring out what’s relevant."

Leveraging technology to improve the workflow

The Orleans Public Defenders team is excited to roll out JusticeText to help save time reviewing this voluminous video evidence. With JusticeText, they can generate automated transcripts in minutes, take time-stamped notes, and create video clips for court. Sara has already used JusticeText to improve her workflow, including on a recent case with more than twenty interviews. There were multiple different timelines of the case to piece together and a considerable amount of discovery to review. Sara shared how JusticeText was able to help with this review.

"Having a way to get through all that discovery, with a transcription, timestamps, and easy ways to edit speaker names is a big time saver… it would have taken me three times as long to do it from scratch."

The JusticeText team is thrilled to have the opportunity to help Orleans Public Defenders provide strong client-centered representation and work toward reforming the system in the process.

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“When we get a dump of jail calls it’s usually all hands on deck. Being able to have a tool to help us review things is a huge plus."

Sara jones profile

Sara Jones

Investigator Supervisor, Orleans Public Defenders

Is JusticeText Right For You?

If you are an attorney looking to make sense of high volumes of audiovisual discovery, there are many ways in which you can utilize JusticeText to streamline your pre-trial preparation process. Reach out today to learn about how you can get started with JusticeText.