The District Attorney’s Office falls into the “essential services” exempted category under stay-at-home orders, but District Attorney George Brauchler took early steps to make sure his staff is ahead of the curve when it comes to working remotely and physical distancing.
Since March 16 — two weeks ago — more than 90 percent of our 245 employees have been working remotely. DA Brauchler led the way himself: per advice from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, he self-isolated at home for 14 days with no symptoms after a trip to a mountain community on March 12.
“Community health and safety must be paramount, but we cannot ignore our critical mission and the mandates of the criminal justice system,” Brauchler said. “I am proud to lead an innovative and resilient team that is quick with solutions and alternatives – and this is true on a regular basis, not just in extreme conditions such as we are experiencing now.”
While much of the infrastructure and procedures were already in place, the office IT department worked through the weekend before March 16 to issue 30 laptops, create 10 virtual machines and otherwise ensure staff had what they needed to work from home.
Office technology solutions include:
• Receptionists answer office calls via Jabber
• VOIP phones allow for remote access for others
• Team meetings are held via Zoom conference
Some 240 staff members participated in an office-wide Zoom meeting May 16 and again May 25. The IT department increased VPN capacity to ensure that everyone can work remotely at the same time with no hiccups. This is the third week that we are conducting office and court business largely from home.
Top office attorneys are working with the public defender’s office and 18th Judicial District Chief Judge Michelle Amico to implement her order to continue almost all legal proceedings and still ensure the rights of victims and criminal defendants are met.
The Arapahoe office typically has fewer than 10 people in the office and courthouse, handling a vastly reduced caseload in district and county court. Most new cases are domestic violence.
The Douglas office typically has no more than six employees on site handling first appearances, bond, in-custody matters and juvenile cases.
All of this is made easier by the fact that DA Brauchler’s office was the first in Colorado and one of the first in the nation to implement an all-electronic discovery process in 2016. No law enforcement officer has to come physically to the office with evidence and reports, and discovery is provided to the court and defense attorneys electronically.
Moving forward, the office will continue to implement even more technology solutions. For instance, we have transitioned the in-person Citizens’ Academy that was scheduled to begin April 9 in the Castle Rock office into an online format open to everyone. Stay tuned for details.
We will continue to find ways to do our part in the community while fulfilling our duties, and we are inspired by our neighbors who do the same. We will overcome this.