Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Governor signs Block measure to save courts time and money


SB 378 would allow courts to use electronically digitized copies

SACRAMENTO – Gov. Jerry Brown has signed legislation today to allow electronically digitized copies of conviction records as evidence to the same extent as paper copies of the original record or a certified copy are admissible.

Senator Marty Block (SD-39) introduced the measure at the request of San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis. “SB 378 will save processing time, paper and costs by using what is now common technology,” Block said.

In supporting SB 378, the California Judges Association stated that the bill is expected to create efficiencies that decrease processing times and assist with case management. The Judicial Council of California, in their letter of support, wrote that courts can save “significant money” by using the digitized copies instead of producing and certifying multiple hard copies.

Prosecutors need court-certified copies of prior convictions in many cases, but court staff reductions have made the processing of requests for this information more time consuming and expensive even as prosecutors must still meet mandated timelines for bringing defendants to hearing.

An electronic digitized copy includes a scanned or photographed copy or any exact reproduction stored in a digitized format that includes the certifying entity’s electronic signature or watermark.

Block said, “This bill allows our justice system to catch up to the 21st Century. Technology such as scanning and e-mail can increase efficiencies in our financially-strapped courts.”

SB 378 is also supported by the California District Attorneys Association.

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