When former Texas Governor Rick Perry signed Senate Bill 1611, also known as the Michael Morton Act, into law in 2013, many predicted a new era in discovery for prosecutors.
However, there was little guidance about how best to accommodate the new law in practice and counties resorted to using manual labour to meet the transparency requirements of the law.
Elton Mathis, Waller County District Attorney, sought to increase efficiency by modernization.
Revolutionizing the way District Attorney’s work: automated file generation
Waller County’s new system has a built-in documentation program that compiles a list of all information uploaded. This compilation is then documented and hard copied into the discovery compliance document used in the county. When a case is disposed of, staff only have to print this document which is automatically generated and filed with the court. Staff no longer spend hours counting documents to ensure compliance and staff efficiency has improved significantly.
An accurate history of all documents
The project required auto-logging capabilities to track what information is provided and when.
The new system enables the District Attorney’s office to transfer information, omitting any mandated exceptions, to the defence to comply with the Michael Morton Act.
The office can track information from when it arrives and throughout its digital lifecycle, which overcomes the problem of anyone claiming that documents have not been sent or received.
All documents are tracked through the system from upload, which reduces debate about disclosure times as the program automatically logs each step in the process.