A new smartphone app is helping public defenders stay in touch with their clients and keep them out of jail.
The public defender’s office in Hennepin County has partnered with Uptrust, a two-way messaging app the has been specifically designed for public attorneys and their clients. The app provides an easy way for lawyer and clients to stay connected, which helps ensure they don’t miss court appearances.
Mary Moriarty, Hennepin County’s chief public defender, believes the app will help keep clients in the know and allow them to quickly message their lawyer if something comes up last minute.
“[With Uptrust] a lawyer could be standing in court and the client isn’t there, and then the client can text them, ‘My bus is late,’ and then the lawyer can tell the judge what’s going on,” said Moriarty.
Preventing Missed Court Appearances
If a client misses a court date, the judge typically issues a warrant for their arrest. Hennepin County data shows that these arrests lead to an average of two days in jail, which can cause significant problems for home and work life. It’s also expensive on the taxpayers, as a day in jail costs more than $150. Hennepin County estimates that missed appearances cost taxpayers $1.5 million in 2017.
Uptrust launched four years ago and says that in areas it’s been adopted, it’s led to a 50 percent reduction in missed court dates. Because of this, it’s also prevented thousands of nights in jail and saved taxpayers millions of dollars.
So if you are arrested in Hennepin County and decide to go with a public defender, there’s a good chance they’ll ask you to download the Uptrust app to stay connected. However, you might have a better chance of winning your case by going with a private attorney who can give your case all the individualized attention it needs. That’s not to say public offenders do a bad job, it’s just that oftentimes they are overburdened, and that can limit the amount of time they truly have to devote to your case.
While we don’t use an app to stay connected, you can bet we use a lot of the same strategies afforded by the app. We stay connected with our clients at every stage of their case and send out reminders so they know when and where they are needed. We’ll even give you our direct contact line so that you can call or text your lawyer directly if something comes up last minute or you need to get in touch at a moment’s notice. We understand how important clear communication is to the process, and we’ll do everything in our power to ensure we’re easy to contact at all points of your case.
To learn more about how we keep you updated throughout the legal process, or to talk to a lawyer about your defense options, reach out to Avery and the team at Appelman Law Firm today.