New York County Defender Services equips paralegals with software solution for body-worn camera analysis

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Posted July 29, 2022

JusticeText is excited to announce a renewal of its partnership with the New York County Defender Services (NYCDS). The office’s paralegal team will continue to use the JusticeText platform to review, analyze, and catalog body camera footage and other critical audiovisual discovery. 

This is a challenging time for public defense in New York City. Jonah Bromwich of the New York Times recently reported on mass attrition across New York City’s public defender organizations, highlighting that hundreds of employees have quit because of low wages. “Budgets are values. If you’re worried about staffing N.Y.P.D and staffing up corrections, but you’re not worried about staffing up the public defenders, you’ve got a value problem,” said Tina Luongo, chief attorney of the Legal Aid Society’s criminal defense practice.

NYCDS is an organization with 100 staff members — including 70 attorneys. The office represents a significant number of the people facing criminal charges in Manhattan who cannot afford legal representation on their own. In a world where New York’s public defenders are overworked and underpaid, JusticeText is proud to be supporting NYCDS attorneys and staff with the tools necessary for efficient evidence review.

Felix Espinal, a senior paralegal at NYCDS, decided to work in public defense to advocate for those in need. “We’re there for them when the system doesn’t want anybody there for them. We fight for them.” Throughout his career, Felix has seen the importance of audiovisual evidence in criminal defense work. Widespread cameras, even on police officers, empower him and his peers to see what is happening for the vast majority of the cases the office handles. Careful analysis of these videos has proven to be important in building effective cases for NYCDS clients.

Before he got access to JusticeText, Felix’s process for reviewing audiovisual discovery was time-consuming, manual, and frustrating. “We had to put on big headphones, go through the video, listen very carefully, and then type into a Word document or write it down by hand. I would have to play it, stop, rewind, rewind too far…it was just a pain.”

JusticeText has simplified Felix’s review of body camera footage and other videos that need to be reviewed in preparation for trial. The tool provides rough, automated transcripts of the relevant file in addition to annotation, sharing, and clipping features that empower users to find the key insights that will make or break a case. Cutting down the time required to review audio/video is helping NYCDS attorneys and support staff more effectively manage their massive caseload.

“The JusticeText automated transcript gives me a good base sense of what happened. I can quickly figure out what’s going on in the case.”

“My co-founder and I started building JusticeText because we were inspired by the work of our local public defenders in Chicago. Connecting with people like Felix always reminds me of those initial conversations and reaffirms my fundamental belief that indigent defense providers need to be supported. Especially in light of the challenges for public defense in New York more broadly, I’m proud to be working with NYCDS this upcoming year,” said CEO Devshi Mehrotra.

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"Some weeks, we have to get through over 2,000 jail calls on a short turnaround time. JusticeText definitely makes that process a lot more manageable."

Felix Espinal

Senior Paralegal, NYCDS

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.