Good news for lawyers appointed to represent defendants in large document-heavy cases: attorneys can now utilize a web-hosted internet platform for review of large volumes of case material. After the case material is "deposited" in one central repository, it then can be reviewed, tagged and accessed by the lawyer in the privacy of his/her office or home.
The software, styled "CaseVantage", is a secure Internet database review tool for case data and e-discovery. Detailed info on this program can be found here. Similar to the popular database software engine known as Summation, the online CaseVantage system allows each appointed defense attorney on the case to link to and review case data; keep private notes about the data; and tag, filter, annotate and code information about the files which can be shared with others on the team. A big plus is the availability of project management expertise and training for all users.
I spoke with a member of the National Litigation Support Team about the program. There are a couple of hurdles to overcome in order to qualify to use the program. First, the platform does not have room to host all cases. Each potential case is analyzed to determine whether it is suitable for the program. The primary factor appears to be whether the case contains a large amount of case material. It should be noted, however, that the electronic "size" of the material may not be necessarily determinative. For example, if the case involves many audio and/or video files, it may not qualify even though the material is more than a "terabyte" in size. Conversely, if the case involves less than a "terabyte" of material, but such material consists of tens of thousands of scanned pages of documents, it may qualify due to the difficult challenges posed in document review.
Second, the number of appointed attorneys on the case (i.e., CJA Panel lawyers and federal public defenders) will be considered. Attorneys retained by co-defendants would still be able to access the database, but would have to pay for their individual access.
Access to the software program is free to qualifying CJA Panel attorneys and public defenders. Once an attorney's participation is approved, the attorney will be able to access all stored material, including being able to open and view computer file types even if the attorney does not have the underlying software on his/her computer. The program eliminates the need for panel attorneys to have specific hardware, software, or IT support usually necessary to utilize similar evidence-review platforms. For example, you would not need to have Microsoft Excel to view an XLS spreadsheet.
Electronic space is limited on the program, so it remains to be seen how accessible the program will be once the need arises. If you have a case that could possibly qualify, you may want to check into it asap. In addition to the link posted above, for more info contact the friendly folks with the National Litigation Support Team.