In 2004 Dallas County Criminal Court manual subpoena issuance process to the Dallas PD was time consuming and inefficient. The DA Investigator filled out a paper routing slip, making multiple copies, and placed it in a mail sorter. Twice a day Dallas PD sent personnel to the Courthouse to retrieve the paper documents, then return and manually enter them into their mainframe. Subpoenas were then routed to agency divisions by printing them at the substations. Admin personnel would cut the notifications into strips, hand log them into a book, and officers would be called up during briefings to sign for their notices.
If the case was imminent, officers might not receive their notice until after the case was heard. As a result, officers sometimes missed their court dates. Those that had multiple appearances had to go to every court and sign into each courtroom’s notebook. The PD’s admin personnel traveled to the courthouse and manually audited the sign-in logs.
There were no checks and balances to determine what time an officer actually arrived and departed. There was also no way of knowing how an officer’s time was used at the courthouse.
“What we needed first and foremost was a better method of accountability, not only for court attendance, but for managing court overtime,” states Lieutenant Summers with the Dallas Police Department. “We wanted a consolidated solution for the District Attorney and an easy-to-use application for our officers. The electronic notification was one piece, but the tracking of court attendance electronically was equally important to cost containment.”
Since 2006, Prosecutors and their staff have been using CourtNotify to associate witnesses to cases. It enable court personnel to view officer’s schedules, conflicts, and notice statuses in real-time. Tools for notice escalations include last minute hearing notifications. If officers fail to acknowledge their subpoena, his/her immediate supervisor is notified. If the supervisor does not ensure the officer acknowledgement, the notice is escalated up the chain-of-command.
The Courthouse also now includes a touch screen kiosk in the officer’s waiting area that enables officers to sign in/out for all events by quickly scanning their agency ID card or entering their badge number. It automatically retrieves their daily court requirements and when released from court, they can log out and print a receipt. Information is collected regarding their eligibility for travel pay and if evidence was obtained. Data is collected regarding whether the officer testified and if the case was held over for the next day. This data is used for the PD’s court reporting purposes.