Chesterton Tribune

 

 

County moves to put court documents on the Web

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By JEFF SCHULTZ

Porter County Judge Mary Harper said the county courts system and probation departments are on board to “make the move into the 21st century” changing over from the current, and outdated, case management system to the state’s fully-integrated Odyssey system that will make it easier for court workers and the public to access court dockets via the Internet.

A resolution to adopt the Odyssey system was approved by the County Board of Commissioners last week. Mid-September is the target date to go live with Odyssey, but Harper said there is “a lot of work” to be done between now and the transition.

According to Indiana’s Judicial Technology and Automation Committee’s webpage, the Web-based Odyssey system creates a central site for all Indiana counties to input court dockets and share information. It is also a “person-based system,” the webpage says, with a directory for users to see all criminal cases that a defendant has in multiple counties.

This system will benefit Porter County judges by giving them better knowledge of offenders who have criminal histories in other counties, Harper said. Right now, the Porter County courts are working “in a vacuum” with its current JaLan management system which Harper said has been “less than user friendly for quite some time” and has had quality issues. The County began using the DOS-based JaLan in 2000.

But with Odyssey, courts and clerk offices can manage caseloads faster and more efficiently, probation officers can better monitor individuals and report on case activity, trial court operations are less costly, and it also means fewer trips to the courthouse for the public since court information, or at least some of it, will be available online.

“Ultimately it is where everyone is going,” Harper said.

IT Director Sharon Lippens said at the Commissioner’s meeting Tuesday that the Odyssey service is supported by state tax dollars and is free of charge to the counties. It will also provide a yearly savings of roughly $25,000, she said, now that the probation departments will no longer have to pay a maintenance fee for the JaLan system.

Case records of those counties in the Odyssey system, both civil and criminal, can be viewed for free at mycase.in.gov.

For criminal cases, the site does not offer views of a defendant’s entire case file such as affidavits of probable cause but the dockets do give a rundown of events in history of cases such as hearing schedules, plea agreements filed, and sentencing. Site users can see what charges have been filed in the case, what court the case is assigned to and the attorneys involved.

Public case records on paper will still be available upon request at the county clerk’s office.

Harper said the Odyssey system gives judges and probation officers a high level of clearance over the “average Joe” to view their respective cases and that juvenile records will not available to the public.

Other features on Odyssey include better functionality with the JTAC’s new e-ticketing software for traffic infractions. It will also link data and records to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles and to federal sources like the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention which provide funds to the state, Harper said.

Only half the counties in Indiana (46 out of 92) have converted to Odyssey since the Indiana Supreme Court signed on with its manufacturer Tyler Technologies in 2010, based on a recommendation from its JTAC.

Lippens said one of the reasons not all the counties in Indiana have made the transition may be because they have worked a long time with their current systems and are reluctant to change.

 

Posted 7/8/2013