Posted: Dec. 7, 2023
The Client Legal Utility Engine (CLUE) program was a program that scraped all cases out of Maryland Judiciary Case Search (Case Search). This dataset could then be used to conduct more in depth and effective searches. For instance Case Search doesn't let you search by a defendant's birthdate. This can make narrowing down the cases to only our client's cases rather time consuming. However, with the CLUE database this could be automated.
The ability to easy query this database allowed for a number of innovations. A plugin was built into the MVLS case management system to automatically be able to search the CLUE database for additional cases the client may have so the attorney and client be notified. This was especially useful when CLUE could automatically look up a person's criminal record. This combined with an algorithm to determine expungement eligibility means we could assist with additional services with less overhead. When the expungement algorithm was run on all criminal cases in the state we were able to generate maps of which neighborhoods had the biggest need and target our clinics and outreach accordingly.
The CLUE program was eventually expanded to search additional state databases like the Baltimore City Water Bill website. This is useful because an unpaid water bill can lead to your house being sold at tax sale. The CLUE program would also check the Baltimore City Property Tax website to see if the addresses given by the client was listed as a owner occupied house and whether the homestead tax credit had been applied for. The CLUE tool allowed for all of these things to be looked up automatically for every client.
Eventually the CLUE program because too complicated and expensive to maintain after I left MVLS and it was shut down. I think a service like the CLUE program should be created by an independent group that could provide it to all of the non profit legal services in Maryland.