Mothers Of Lost Children – Indiana

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Indiana Lawmaker Critical of Court Network’s Progress

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From The Chicago Tribune:

Associated Press  2:30 PM CDT, July 18, 2009  

INDIANAPOLIS – An effort to put all the state’s courts on the same computerized case management system and make court records available free online has reached only nine counties after seven years.

Supporters say the task is overwhelming and progress has been made despite a five-year false start. But at least one key lawmaker believes it’s time to re-evaluate the project, which has cost the state about $20 million so far.

“That’s not a very high performance level,” Sen. Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, told The Journal Gazette of Fort Wayne. “I think we need to re-evaluate the project as far as where we are going and what we are going to do.”

The project’s goal is to equip all the state’s courts and clerks with a computer system to manage cases, connect court systems with each other, police and state agencies and make records available on the Internet.

The project was initially introduced in 2002, but court staffers across the state found the software being used was unable to track the status and outcome of criminal and civil cases. The state canceled that deal in 2005.

It hired a new vendor, Tyler Technologies Inc., and in December 2007 rolled out the Odyssey system, which now serves 25 courts in nine counties, including Marion County‘s traffic court, the state’s busiest court. Those courts comprise approximately 16 percent of all the cases filed in Indiana, according to the state Supreme Court.

The project is handled by the Indiana Supreme Court’s Judicial Technology and Automation Committee, but Kenley would like to see that change. During the regular legislative session, he wrote a provision into a failed version of the state budget that would have moved the project to the State Budget Agency.

State. Rep. Win Moses, D-Fort Wayne, doesn’t think that’s necessary.

“I think we’re doing a good job given the vast extent of it and the complexity of it,” he said. “We should not slow down.”

Mary DePrez, director of the Supreme Court technology committee, said that in 2002 the committee projected that implementing a statewide case management system could cost between $73 million and $113 million. She estimated the statewide rollout of the Odyssey system that debuted in 2007 could take five or six years.

Some counties have resisted the switch, which is not mandatory.

LaGrange County Clerk Beverly Elliott said the county installed its own case management system in 2005 when the state project stalled, and she doesn’t plan to use Odyssey.

“I’m sure Odyssey will work fine for some counties, but we don’t have the money to sink into a new system when ours is working fine,” she said.

The cost of Odyssey is shared between the state, which pays for installation, training, annual maintenance and license fees, and local courts, which are responsible for hardware.

Supreme Court spokeswoman Kathryn Dolan said the project is complex, in part because the vendors must ensure that the statewide system and the local systems can communicate.

“These are smart people who are figuring it out, but it takes a little bit of time,” she said.

Kenley was critical of the piecemeal approach to the rollout.

“We are making decisions one piece at a time instead of an overall look at the cost,” Kenley said. “Let’s institutionalize it so it’s a performing asset.”

Though only a handful of counties so far are on Odyssey, Dolan and Moses pointed to progress made on related computerization projects. Those include an electronic ticketing system used by most Indiana police, court access to Bureau of Motor Vehicle traffic infraction records and police access to domestic violence protection orders statewide.

“They’re big projects that fit into a bigger part of the puzzle,” Dolan said.



One Response

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  1. Hello. Thank you for this great info! Keep up the good job!


    August 7, 2009 at 9:48 am

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