JusticeText is a winner of Dream.org's $1M Justice Innovation Prize. Read more.

How former Lincoln County District Attorney Jonathan Cable uses JusticeText to produce low-cost video transcripts for trial

lincoln county oregon courthouse

About Jonathan Cable

Jonathan Cable is a defense attorney in private practice. He serves as a board member of Lincoln County Defenders and was previously the district attorney for Lincoln County, Oregon. Cable studied political science at Kent State University and then went on to pursue a law degree at the University of Toledo College of Law. 

The path from prosecution to indigent defense

Defense attorney Jonathan Cable is no stranger to all facets of the criminal justice system. Though he currently works as a defense attorney in private practice in Oregon, he previously spent years as a felony prosecutor and a city prosecutor in Ohio.

Upon first arriving on the west coast, Cable spent nine years as deputy district attorney. Then, in January of 2020, Cable was appointed district attorney for Lincoln County. He would hold this prestigious position for nearly one year until the electoral campaign of December 2020.

This wide range of career positions — from the competitive world of prosecution to the colossal responsibilities of district attorney — left Cable with a wealth of perspective. It was this perspective that made one thing very clear: many people out there need his help.  

"I became a defense attorney in 2016 in part because I felt bad for people - which isn’t good for a prosecutor, if you start feeling bad. The longer you do it, the more you realize things are not necessarily as black and white as you think they are," said Cable.

In the world of defense, the clock is always ticking

As an experienced defense attorney, Jonathan Cable knows the importance of extrapolating critical information from case discovery material. Throughout his career—which has spanned two decades and has included the roles of felony prosecutor, city prosecutor, deputy district attorney, and district attorney—he has seen a gradual increase in the volume of available material in any given case. This increase comes from the growing presence of footage-capturing methods, such as body and vehicle cameras, which offer the potential for a more thorough and precise case discovery process—if you have time to spare.

“When I started 20 years ago, it was rare that you had any kind of recording. Maybe in a drug case, you would have a little tape recorder or something," explains Cable. "But now, [there’s] the volume of body cameras and videos, which are great on one hand because people can’t lie about what happened. But it’s so much, even in a minor case, to watch, to review. It makes our jobs kind of difficult.”

While the amount of case evidence is good news for defense teams on the pursuit of justice, the traditional methods of transcribing footage, whether internal or outsourced, simply cannot keep up with the sharp incline in discovery material. 

"I had a case right before your program came out [that] I spent probably three or four days over the course of a couple of weeks just transcribing. To save that amount of time is amazing."

Fortunately, Cable found an alternative approach for transcribing important case footage in JusticeText, which he used to create instant transcripts. These electronic transcripts are also searchable, timestamped, editable, and shareable—saving attorneys and their teams not hours worth of time but days. 

Accuracy in transcription software aids in defense, cross-examinations

Accuracy is a major concern in the world of the defense attorney, where every detail carries weight. While this previously motivated legal teams to painstakingly pour over case materials or outsource their transcription needs, there is no longer any need to do that, thanks to the revolutionizing technology of JusticeText. 

JusticeText provides an “accuracy heatmap” that highlights any transcribed phrases that the program determines to have a low accuracy rating. Attorney teams can then revisit these flagged areas to ensure that the text reflects the original media source. This exactitude goes a long way not only within case preparation but also in the courtroom. 

Effective cross-examination is one of the most vital skills a defense attorney can have. But a strong cross-examination must lean on captured proof—even the most skilled court commander can’t base a defense on blurry details and imprecise evidence. 

"If you’re going to cross-examine someone and say, ‘isn’t it true you said X,’ you better be pretty accurate. I always had to make sure that I had everything exact," he explains.

With the timestamps provided by JusticeText, it’s easy to refer to specific sections of a transcript and quote them with confidence. If defense attorneys prefer to share the audiovisual evidence in its original form, it’s also possible to use the program to create the necessary audio or video clips.

Legal professionals require resourceful solutions for client collaboration

A part of Cable’s job is visiting clients and providing them with case-relevant material, such as audiovisual footage or witness statements —anything that could help build their case. However, while certain investigators and professionals may be permitted to review footage directly, privately-appointed lawyers such as Cable are often not allowed to bring laptops into a jail setting without following an approval process. Thankfully, Cable found a way to overcome this inconvenience with the use of a physical transcript. 

"We’re not allowed to bring laptops to our jail without special permission. So if I want to show a client a video, either I have to take it over myself or have an investigator appointed by the state take a laptop over and show them a video. It’s much easier to hand them a transcript and say, ‘This is what’s on the video.’”

The presence of a transcript helps remind clients of what happened the night of an incident and provides insight into what other evidence there is in a particular case that they might not have otherwise been privy to.

“A lot of the time the transcripts, they’re going to see what other witnesses said that they weren’t present for,” he says.

Sometimes client communication is complicated not by incarceration but by geography. Cable practices on the Oregon coast, a popular vacation destination that attracts such a high volume of visitors in the summer months that its population swells well above its year-round count.

Naturally, this leads to cases that involve out-of-town individuals. The ability to share electronic transcripts empowers those in a different location to review their case materials from afar, allowing them to be more involved in their case.

“You end up with a lot of people from other places, so it’s great to be able to send them something at home if they’re in Arizona, or Mexico,” Cable says.

A group of positive emoji

"My assistant just loves it, and we were both very happy to see that you added the 'Share' feature, so we can go over evidence without a client having to come to the office. This resource is so very helpful and we both feel it is money very well spent!"

Jonathan cable for da e1582173489443

Jonathan Cable

Defense Attorney
  • What he needed

    • A way to make use of the growing volume of case evidence and material
    • Precise records that are fit to use in cross examinations
    • A more accessible way to review case materials with imprisoned or long-distance clients
  • What he did

    • Generated automated transcripts in a fraction of the time
    • Used the accuracy heatmap to create precise transcripts
    • Provided clients with physical transcripts for independent review

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.