The next step to virtual courts: Securely sharing evidence
As courts close across the globe it is clear that the ability to run virtual courts is of paramount importance to maintaining justice systems. Some courts have adopted virtual conferencing tools to keep connected and facilitate critical hearings. Yet, conducting an effective virtual hearing efficiently requires more than just having the parties on a phone or video link. Transferring evidence between agencies and parties remains a stumbling block for many seeking to successfully implement virtual courts.
Using a Thomson Reuters Case Center eBundle enhances video conferencing tools by presenting a clear single source of evidence that can be securely shared if required. Case Center has been delivering virtual hearings since 2014. As a cloud-based solution with no software to install, it is ideal for remote working, allowing parties to review evidence from anywhere in the world in advance of and during hearings.
Why Case Center?
Case Center helps to smooth remote hearings in three critical ways:
- All participants will always be working from a single version of the bundle of documents
- A lawyer can direct other participants (the judge, witnesses etc) automatically to a page in the bundle or to a cue point in a video
- A court clerk on the call can stamp documents that were referred to in the hearing so that there is a clear record of the documents and other evidence that was actually used.
Users can direct others to a specific page, present to everyone and review multimedia evidence without separate software.
Work remotely to build the hearing bundle
Access to Case Center via your browser means that you can prepare for a hearing as easily from home as from the office. Case Center creates a dynamic, automatically paginated and indexed bundle that is presentation ready from first upload. It gives you the flexibility to create hearing and party specific bundles in one central repository. For example, in a multi-defendant hearing, it might be necessary to create separate bundles for Defendant A and Defendant B as well as providing a complete bundle to the judge. Case Center turns hours of work into a matter of minutes.
Case Center contains sophisticated redaction tools that will automatically identify and redact key terms, even spotting these key terms when new documents are added, identifying that there are new redactions to be made. Redactions can also be made user specific so that one participant, with appropriate permissions, sees the unredacted document, while another might only see the redacted version. Both versions have the same page number so that in court a lawyer need only refer to the page once.
Users can upload PDFs, word documents, Excel sheets, multimedia files and scanned handwritten notes into a Case Center eBundle. Once uploaded all documentation becomes fully searchable and automatically updates as files are added, moved within the bundle or removed. The digital bundle ensures everyone is always kept on the same version of the bundle when preparing or in the hearing.
Case Center gives you flexible and secure end-to-end case access for complete control. By inviting users to access evidence in one location, you can securely grant time restricted, file restricted and redacted case access.
In jurisdictions where participants (such as a public defender or member of the court staff) cannot be given access to the online version of the bundle, Case Center has a solution. A “Secure Sharing” link allows other participants to download a fully indexed, hyperlinked PDF copy of the bundle. Using this approach allows the case creator to capture the productivity benefits of using Case Center and still ensure that during the hearing everyone can be on the same page. This gives you flexible and secure end-to-end case access for complete control. By inviting users to access evidence in one location, you can securely grant time restricted, file restricted and redacted case access.
Case Center can also support existing eFiling processes. Many court eFiling tools are designed to track filings rather than support evidence review, and do not support large volumes of evidence. The Case Center eBridge PDF offers an easy way to file evidence using a secure link on a one page PDF. From that point on, access to the latest version of the Case Center eBundle is available to any authorized participant (lawyer, parties, judge, court clerk) via the links in the eBridge PDF.