JusticeText raises $2.2M to extend transparency in legal evidence-gathering

Software program firm JusticeText at present introduced the closing of a $2.2 million seed spherical, with participation from Bloomberg Beta, True Ventures, Reid Hoffman, John Legend and Michael Tubbs.

The corporate, launched in 2019 by Devshi Mehrotra and Leslie Jones-Dove, shops, catalogs, analyzes after which shares video proof, hoping to extend transparency round legal issues similar to police interactions and enhance general judicial outcomes for low-income legal defendants. The product is geared towards public defenders to be used in trials.

“As a technologist, I couldn’t essentially have an effect on coverage or laws, particularly as a youngster,” Mehrotra instructed TechCrunch. “However in relation to serving to enhance the effectivity of the work that public defenders do, that was very a lot inside my wheelhouse.”

Mehrotra and Jones-Dove met seven years in the past as freshmen on the College of Chicago. Each studied pc science and had been keen about campus police reform. Three months into their first yr, the video of LaQuan McDonald’s murder went viral. On the time, it was the most recent clip to point out a younger Black man dying by the hands of the police.

Mehrotra and Jones-Dove had grown up watching Trayvon Martin’s death sensationalized on cable tv. Days earlier than their first semester of school, the city of Ferguson, Missouri, burned following the homicide of Michael Brown. Since 2015, greater than 1,500 Black males have been killed by the police, in accordance with The Washington Post.

“I spent a number of undergrad reflecting on the position of expertise in our legal justice system and the way a lot of the expertise that’s being constructed is disproportionately designed to make it simpler to arrest and incarcerate,” Mehrotra stated. “We wished to do one thing to assist our group.”

JusticeText mechanically transcribes legal proof knowledge, making it searchable by key phrases, weapons, medication and crimes, so attorneys can simply create movies to make use of in hearings or trials. The corporate at the moment works with 50 public defender workplaces and has round 60 shoppers who’re personal legal protection attorneys.

The duo began their fundraising journey in February, with Mehrotra saying it took round 5 months to finish. She known as the expertise “rigorous” and stated they trusted different founders and angel traders they met at accelerators to facilitate introductions to big-name traders. The corporate will use the cash to proceed constructing its superior pure language processing and develop its gross sales, advertising and marketing and communication groups.

“It’s uncommon to see founders who’re each doing one thing so beneficial to the world, like unjamming our authorized system, and already getting clients to pay them for that worth,” Roy Bahat, the top of Bloomberg Beta, instructed TechCrunch. “Successful firms must do proper for the world and do effectively. Devshi and Leslie are doing each.”

Legend, a singer and angel investor, echoed related sentiments.

“The American legal justice system disproportionately harms communities of colour, and we have to empower our public defenders with cutting-edge instruments to forestall and mitigate that injury,” he stated. “I’m excited to see how the JusticeText platform contributes to a world the place everybody will get the illustration they deserve.”

Mehrotra stated the reception to JusticeText has been constructive thus far. Public defenders, particularly, have taken curiosity within the product, particularly given the worsening judicial backlog amid the pandemic. Already, she stated attorneys have reached out to notice that JusticeText eases the execution of their instances, increasing their bandwidth to tackle extra.

That’s necessary as a result of many low-income defendants stay detained in pre-trial because of the lack of obtainable public defenders. The Jail Coverage Initiative estimates more than 400,000 individuals are incarcerated whereas awaiting trial, many just because they can’t afford money bail. Total, Mehrotra stated the corporate’s purpose is to maneuver the needle — even only a tad.

“Hopefully, we are able to hold increasingly folks out of the justice system and be an intervention that may redirect them to extra rehabilitative packages,” she stated. “We’re proud to be constructing expertise that surfaces crucial insights from video proof in a matter of minutes — all with the last word purpose of accelerating transparency and enabling fairer outcomes in our judicial system.”

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