Hayley Albright is a Duluth-based criminal investigator working for the State of Minnesota Board of Public Defense. She graduated from the George Washington University with her BA in Criminal Justice and Political Science in 2016.
As an investigator working for the state of Minnesota’s Board of Public Defense, Hayley Albright plays an instrumental part in the discovery process of complicated criminal cases. Although the increase of available audiovisual footage offers the potential of a robust discovery, the act of manually extracting information from case multimedia is not only grueling but also a large commitment of time—and time is in short supply within public defense offices.
“Time is of the essence in our job," she says. "If I spend too much time doing one thing, then somebody else somewhere along the line isn’t getting the help that they need.”
An important part of Albright’s role as an investigator involves reviewing case footage with clients in jail awaiting trial. These collaborative review sessions often provide helpful insights, but it’s a tedious process, with one CD worth of material sometimes taking months to go through. A written transcript allows clients the opportunity to independently review important evidence that may play a major role in their case and, in turn, their future.
“It’s easier for our clients. They can take a transcript of the report back to the cell with them, and read it on their own time and call us with notes, versus us having to be there and that being the only time that they get to see what the interview is.”
Not only do overburdened attorneys not have the time to put together transcripts, but professional transcriptionists are expensive and often come with turnaround times that aren’t feasible for public defense trials. Transcription is then usually a job that falls on the intern or investigator, taking them away from other vital tasks that directly impact a case’s outcome.
“I have spent days before putting together a transcript of our client’s statement for an attorney for trial prep when I could have easily spent that time doing other things to help prepare,” Albright says.
With JusticeText, investigators like Albright can upload their audiovisual case materials and receive a computer-generated transcript. They can then go through and edit the transcript for clarity, make notes and annotations, create video clips, and even directly share the transcript with their colleagues.
JusticeText’s search tool allows for the easy perusal of transcript details, including witness statements. Without such an easy reference point, an attorney may otherwise have had to call for a witness follow-up statement if the original is lost among a high volume of multimedia.
“I had an attorney who hadn’t listened to the recorded statements yet of witnesses and he was asking me to contact them for another statement. The written transcript made it much easier for him to go through the discovery and determine that we didn’t even need another statement because the recorded statement was a slam dunk for the defense - the officer was caught saying that he didn’t think our client should be charged.”
It may be necessary for attorneys and investigators to see the visual component of specific footage in some cases. With JusticeText, instead of watching a video on repeat, attorneys can read through an interview transcript and refer to timestamps to pinpoint sections that require review. JusticeText’s clip-making capabilities make it easy for investigators like Albright to download important components of videos that can then be shared with attorneys and used in court.
In the case of a redacted transcript, the ability to create a quick transcript with JusticeText makes it easy to compare scripts and provide more compelling evidence. Accurate timestamps mean that investigators and attorneys can go to the exact area where the text was redacted—there is no need to listen to the full transcript. In a world where every word matters, this can make a big difference—and Albright has noticed that the word is now getting out.
“The program was also super helpful for me to make notes every time something caught my eye that I wanted to jump back into or make a clip of. I know this is going to be extremely helpful for trial prep coming up for a homicide we have where there are endless bodycams and witness statements.”
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.