iPad is the new search warrant

Having judges set pen to paper to sign search warrants is "so 20th century."

Butte County, Calif., announced earlier this month that it had become the first county in the state to use a judge's digital signature on a search warrant. Now, instead of having to track down a judge to physically sign the document during time-sensitive crime scene investigations that often take place after hours, police can obtain the signature electronically, District Attorney Mike Ramsey said in a press release.

To set up the system, the DA's office partnered with Web vendor DocuSign, which has worked with companies in the mortgage, financial and corporate worlds, to create processes for collecting signatures on documents electronically.

"By piggybacking on this proven technology, we were assured the signing process would not only be safe and secure, but legally acceptable to our judges," Ramsey said in the release.

Judges in the county have been given iPads so they can sign the warrants when they're away from their offices.

For a search warrant to be valid, it must have the signature of a sitting judge. But federal rules and the rules in certain states also allow for judges to approve warrants over the phone as well, George Washington University law professor Orin Kerr told C-Span's Washington Journal last year.

About the Author

Donald White is an assistant managing editor with 1105 Government Information Group.

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