Subpoena Confirmation on the Web
In the course of prosecuting the referrals and cases brought to the Snohomish County Prosecuting Attorney’s office, the office sends out hundreds of subpoenas to law enforcement officers every week. Some of the subpoenas issued are for cases that will never actually go to trial on the expected date because of continuances, plea agreements, or the defendant failing to appear for confirmation. Without knowing if a subpoena is still valid, officers are required to place a phone call to one of the County’s tapelines to determine whether they are needed in court. For many officers the number of calls an officer must place to keep track of the subpoenas from different courts and dates received can become burdensome. The Prosecuting Attorney’s office is seeking to develop a method for reducing the burden of the current system by reducing, or if possible eliminating, our reliance on the officer phone lines. The proposed solution this document describes is an easy to use webpage that quickly allows an officer to see when they are needed in court.
In addition, to the above there is the possibility of a small savings from a reduction in unnecessary overtime that occurs when an officer appears when not needed.
This document outlines the steps and provides a timeline in creating the proposed web page solution. The overall steps are outlined below and are followed by a more detailed description.
Step One – The overall project needs and expected results have been provided by the Chief Criminal Deputy in consultation with Law Enforcement and the staff of the PA’s criminal division. The result of this step is a simple project description from the end user’s perspective.
Step Two – The changes needed in the current Prosecutor Case Control System (PCCS) and in office procedures to facilitate recording sent subpoenas and the status of the need to appear for a subpoena. Essentially, this is the data needed to inform an officer if they should appear in court. The result of this step is a document that describes the changes necessary to PCCS so that the project can be successful.
Step Three – Design and Building of a Prototype of the envisioned web pages using the data available from the changes to PCCS. These will be done along with an on-going review and revision of how they fulfill the project and business needs of the PA’s office. The result of this step is a group of prototype web pages, along with appropriate documentation, that identifies the technical, operational, production and programming challenges to successfully implement the project.
Step Four – Implementation of business processes, production quality database access, and web pages that are fully functional. The results of this step web pages on the county server that display the subpoena status at a quality that meets user needs and expectations.
Shown below is an overall project sequence and timeline of that generally corresponds to the above steps.
The results of this step is attached as Appendix A and can also be found on the PA’s shared drive: \\oasrv3\spa_data\Admin\Web\SubpoenaConfirm\Feasibility Rev 1_31.doc The Chief Criminal DPA in cooperation with various law enforcement officers and the staff of the Criminal division developed the ideas and concepts behind this project. The intent of this document is to define the basic user interactions and the data an officer needs to see so as to be able decide to show up for a court date. To facilitate restricted access to subpoena information an officer would be asked to provide their e-mail address and badge number. Given this information, combined with the current date, it would be possible to find all related subpoena information to display. For more detail see Appendix A or the referenced document.
The result of this step is attached as Appendix B and can also be found on the PA’s shared drive: \\oasrv3\spa_data\Admin\Web\SubpoenaConfirm\PCCSSubAppendMethod Final.doc An ad hoc team of Attorneys, management and staff was assembled to look at the data needs of the project as well as office polices and procedures that would need to be changed to provide the data. From the many meetings and side conversations that occurred, the above document was created that outlined the screens, data and processing changes necessary to provide PCCS with the functionality needed to effectively track subpoenas issued for particular activities and to support the web pages. The document has two major parts, the first part contains the changes visible from a user perspective and the remainder describes the expected changes within PCCS and its processing of user requests and interactions as well as the procedural changes these alterations would entail.
Of major note is the creation of a new table in PCCS called the subpoena table, which contains information about a subpoena that has been issued. The table includes the case number, activity for which a subpoena is needed, witness ID, defendant ID, date/time, user and time of creation. For a more complete description see the above document.
An e-mail address field was added to the name_address table and will facilitate the officer login.
The results of this step can be found at http://wwwstage/prosatty/SubCon. This is an index page for the prototyping efforts. In consultation with mangers and staff, an intern is working on creating Active Server Pages (.asp) that provide the functionality for the project. As an initial configuration for development purposes a test database containing tables modeled after the requested changes and what is found in PCCS have been copied to the ‘wwwstage’ server in the ‘prosatty’ directory. This test database will be used by the prototype web pages and will contain all the tables and data fields necessary to build the prototypes.
The building of the prototype pages are meant to uncover questions, limitations, and challenges in the technical, operational, production and programming of these pages. These prototypes will be used to help prove and refine the project’s concepts and ideas from steps above. They will provide the platform from which to assess that the visual presentation and interactions will fulfill the user needs and expectations.
The completion of the requested DIS changes to PCCS are expected to be available sometime during this step so they can be confirmed to work as expected and office procedures can be adjusted should it be necessary.
The results of this step will eventually be found on the county prosecutor’s web site. https://web5.co.snohomish.wa.us/prosatty/subpoena/. This system of pages are what will eventually be accepted by law enforcement as a useful way of checking their need to show-up in court. There are three major activities that will occur simultaneously. The first is that the Department of Information Services (DIS) will working with the intern to provide design and implementation of the production support systems to take the prototypes from step three above to production quality. Secondly, the PA’s office will be confirming that the office business practices are producing and maintaining the information necessary to enable the web pages to be useful. Finally, the criminal division will be working with selected law enforcement agencies to test the pages for usability and effectiveness.
For the DIS effort some of the known tasks are:
1. Establishing the database connectivity for the .asp pages to be able to acquire the data either directly from PCCS or from a snapshot.
2. Establishing proper security so the .asp pages can properly reach into the PCCS database and retrieve the needed data.
3. Establishing, as necessary, production scheduling of database operations to support the web page needs.
the use of standards and specific implementation technologies (Visual Basic,
5. A walk-through of the web design in an effort to create a clear understanding of the pages so as to facilitate future maintenance of the pages.
Most of the expected office procedure changes are outlined in step two, and confirmed in step three above. It is anticipated that they will be in place when the final production quality web pages become available, but should additional changes be needed before going final this is where the changes will be identified and dealt with.
To make certain the system is working and that the user interface and interactions works for law enforcement, at least one agency will be selected to run a pilot test of the final web pages. From the feedback and issued raised changes or adjustments will be made or scheduled. Until the pages are deemed acceptable the system will not be considered “live”.
Wrap up and review for enhancements, improvements, and next steps will be done towards the end of step four. It is already anticipated that there are two future directions that this project will enable. The first is the query by web (or IVR) by civilians of their subpoena status and the second is allowing law enforcement management to do web enquiry of their officers’ subpoenas.