The Marion Superior Court is the busiest county court system in the state of Indiana.
As part of its activities, the court processes more than 4,000 warrants every year,
enabling law enforcement officers to gather important evidence and preserve public
In many cases, warrants are required on a time-sensitive basis. For example, if an
officer pulls over a motorist suspected of driving under the influence (DUI) and needs
to conduct a blood test, there is a short window of time during which such a test can
reliably be performed, as blood alcohol concentration diminishes with the passage of
time—making it critical to obtain the necessary warrant quickly.
Amitav Thamba, Chief Technology Officer at Marion Superior Court, explained, “In
the past, when an officer needed a warrant, he or she had to physically track down
a judge who could review and grant the request. Most of the time, this involved
travelling to our central Arrestee Processing Center (APC) to find a judge. If an officer
was at the outer limits of the city, it could take almost half an hour to reach the APC,
possibly even longer depending on traffic conditions. Then the officer still needed to
find a judge, get the warrant signed and printed, and return to the scene to serve the
“When you take into consideration the travel time and cost, and the impact of having
an officer essentially off the beat performing an administrative task, it added up
to a great deal of wasted time, effort and money,” added Pauline Beeson, Director
of the Marion County Arrestee Processing Center. “We knew that there had to be a
better way to manage search warrant processing—one that would free up our law
enforcement and judicial officers to focus on more important duties.”
Marion County joined forces with BerkOne to develop an innovative electronic
warrants system. Built on Kofax Software, the system replaces paper
files with digital documents and streamlines submission, review and authorization
Thamba stated, “We first started working with BerkOne and Kofax solutions
about six years ago, and it is a partnership that has delivered consistently
Beeson continued, “Several vendors presented offerings that weren’t closely
tailored to our jurisdiction’s laws and processes, so we would have needed to
perform considerable customization to use them effectively. But the Kofax
solution proposed by BerkOne took our unique requirements into account and very
closely matched our vision.”
Using the new system, law enforcement officers complete an electronic warrant
form—containing a submission page and the warrant itself—and submit it via email
from their vehicle’s computer. The email content and any attachments are sent to a
dedicated inbox, then imported into a central repository.
The submission page is automatically separated from the warrant for privacy
reasons. The system automatically extracts key information such as the submitting
officer’s name, along with the date and time of the submission, before entering the
item into a review queue. The warrant request is initially reviewed by a county clerk
before being sent to a judge for approval.
Both clerks and judges are automatically notified via email when a new warrant is
awaiting their review. If a submission in a clerk’s queue is not processed within 10
minutes of receipt, the clerk receives another email alert. Similarly, judges are given
25 minutes to review and approve or deny a warrant; once this time period has
elapsed, the job is automatically assigned to a secondary judge, who is notified by
email and given 10 minutes to complete the review.
The system also sends automatic updates to the submitting officer at various
points in the process—notifying them when their submission has been received and
when it has been added to a judge’s review queue.
If a judge requires additional information to process a warrant, he or she can
follow up with the submitting officer directly. Here, officers can fill out an updated
submission form and submit it via email to a separate inbox dedicated solely to
updates. Any new emails and attachments are automatically linked to the original
submission, and the judge can complete the review using the new information.
Once a warrant has been granted, the system creates a final PDF document,
comprising a cover page summarizing the submission details, submission form, the
warrant itself and a return form. After serving a warrant, the officer must bring the
return form to the APC to confirm that this step has been completed.
Marion County initially rolled out the new system to a small test group, and
is currently working to make it available to the county’s entire police force—
comprising approximately 1,400 law enforcement officers.
“Officers have seen how the system has made life so much easier for their
colleagues, and have been clamoring to work with it,” noted Beeson. “We expect
the wider launch to go smoothly; the solution is incredibly intuitive and we believe
that new users will be able to get up to speed very quickly.”
The new electronic warrants system is already delivering impressive results, and
Marion County only expects these to multiply once the solution moves into full
“Existing users are reporting that it takes an average of 18 minutes to have a
warrant approved and returned to them,” Thamba explained. “Faster turnaround
times mean that officers can get on with their police duties."
“Take, for instance, our DUI taskforce, which is working more effectively than ever.
When an officer stops an individual suspected of driving while intoxicated, instead
of potentially waiting hours for a search warrant, he or she can submit an electronic
warrant request, then drive the suspect to the hospital. Usually, by the time that officer
has reached the hospital, the warrant will have been approved and they can have
the blood test performed without delay.”
In addition, the new system is making life much easier for everyone involved in the
“Officers no longer have to drive around to track down a judge or wait around for
a warrant to be granted. Going digital will also dramatically reduce the amount of
paperwork that our clerks must process,” she explained.
“Similarly, our judges benefit from a better work-life balance. In the past, law
enforcement officers would often converge at the APC to ask a certain judge to
approve a warrant. Today, once a warrant request is entered into the system, it
is randomly assigned to a judge on call. We’ve also distributed tablet devices
to judges, so they can check warrants whenever they are on call. Not only has
this resulted in a more predictable workload for judges, the more flexible way of
working has allowed us to reduce the number of court personnel by ten people,
reassigning them to other areas, as judges no longer have to be physically present
at the APC around the clock.”
Marion County expects the new approach to significantly improve visibility and
control of search warrant processing. At every step in the process, law enforcement
officers will have clear insight into the status of a warrant, and judicial officers and
clerks will be able to review and process documents more efficiently.
Thamba concluded, “Kofax technology is helping us to shape a much more
streamlined approach to warrant processing. We are empowering law enforcement
teams, clerical staff and judicial officers to work more quickly and conveniently than
ever before, which allows us to fulfill our mission to provide effective and efficient
justice for all.”