Judicial Branch

Legal Assistant

The United States District Court utilizes an electronic case filing and document retrieval sysem. This system allows for electronic filing of all case related documents as well as docketing of hearings and case related events. Interested parties to the case can register to be notified of all activities related to that case. United States Attorney’s offices are linked to this PACER/ECF system and are recipients to this information. However, Legal Assistants still make subsequent notifications to the law enforcement case agent for each case activity and document upon receiving notification via the Electronic Case Filing System. Case Agent notifications take an average of 3 minutes per entry, depending on whether or not there is a document attached which must be downloaded, saved and then a new e-mail generated to make the same notification just received. The subsequent email is then saved for documentation that the notification has been made.

 

For example, when a Motion is filed in a case, the Legal Assistant in the U.S. Attorney’s Office receives the electronic notification of the filing, downloads the document and then forward such notice to the case agent re-attaching the document as only "one look" is allowed per email. With an average of 10 case notifications per day, Legal Assistants are spending approximately 30 minutes per day or 2.5 hours per week making notifications that can be made with a system already in place at no additional cost. If the Law Enforcement case agent were simply added to the email distribution list at the outset of the case, they would automatically receive every notification in their assigned case. This would eliminate the margin of error in ensuring they receive notices of hearings and related activities. Further, it would ensure that the notification received is timely. In the event of a system failure, it would be known to all parties that notification to the agent had failed as this would be tracked in the Court’s electronic system.

 

Further, at an average salary of $35,000 per year per Legal Assistant, if the electronic case filing system were utilized for case agent notificstions, it could save $2,186.00 per Legal Assistant per year for each Legal Assistant across the United States (2.5 hours per week over 52 weeks). Additional savings would be realized in the decrease in the amount of paper generated per case as well as the time in filing and tracking these notifications. With an estimated 6,000 Legal Assistants throughout the United States Attorney’s Offices, this could create an annual savings of $1,311,960.00. As these are conservative estimates, the actual numbers could be substantially higher.

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Idea No. 11550