SANTA CRUZ -- The Santa Cruz County District Attorney's Office is going digital.
Mirroring a national trend, the department will begin using only electronic files as of Wednesday. The move, which will start with misdemeanor cases, will hopefully put an end to prosecutors having to struggle to juggle multiple folders as they go from courtroom to courtroom.
No more interruptions caused by having to run back to the office for a missing file, District Attorney Bob Lee said. No more misplacing important documents in the crush of papers.
Lee said the switch is exciting on several levels. Not only will it cut down on paper waste, he believes it will also make daily operations more efficient.
"Our goal is to have everything in a virtual file," Lee said. "We're trying to become paperless for all of the office."
The change includes mugshots, audio recordings, criminal complaints, depositions and all other documents. Hard copies will be scanned in and put in one file within the current content management system used by the District Attorney's Office. The office has already started working to scan in all of the files they already have warehoused.
Prosecutors will bring laptops and tablets to court with them to access the electronic files, Lee said.
He said he anticipates the move will help cut down on discovery issues, which frequently bog down court cases. Discovery refers to evidence and information in the case. Prosecutors
Lee hopes that by phasing out paper files in his office, it will prompt the rest of the county's court system to do the same.
Around the country, state courts are working to phase in electronic filing.
In Nebraska, electronic filing has cut down on the time it takes for both judges and court staff to complete their work, according to the Pew Center on the States. The Washington-based think tank reports that in 2011, Nebraska state officials estimated that electronic filing helped save more than 12,000 hours of administrative court staff time.
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