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Court issues rules on bulk access to Odyssey case records

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After more than four years of requests from commercial case management system vendors, the Indiana Supreme Court has outlined how third-parties can interface with the state-provided system to provide broader public access to Indiana court records.

In a four-page order released Sept. 14, the court details the process for obtaining bulk distribution of and remote access to the records of Indiana courts using the Odyssey case management system, which is gradually connecting all of Indiana’s trial courts.

First launched in December 2007, the system created by Texas-based Tyler Technologies and overseen by the Judicial Technology and Automation Committee (JTAC) has been implemented in 104 courts in 35 counties throughout Indiana, with about 7 million case records available online. The state hit that 100-court mark this week, and with the latest figures the system plugs in 34 percent of the state’s caseload, with more courts being added each month. The public can access and search those records online free of additional charge, since the cost of system maintenance and implementation are paid for by the state.

But until now, commercial users and third-parties wanting to access that same information and share it haven’t had any guidance on how to do that. Prior to the state’s launch of Odyssey, more than two dozen different case management systems were used throughout Indiana. Those counties weren’t connected – meaning judges and attorneys in one county didn’t have access to what might be happening with parties in another county, unless they took other steps to gather information.

Several businesses have requested interfaces from JTAC since its implementation, but they haven’t received answers until now. Richmond-based Doxpop, which has been operating since 2002 and has about 13 million cases from 148 courts in 51 counties, has been requesting an interface with JTAC since 2007. Because it had not received an answer from state court officials about how to proceed, the vendor stopped offering records from certain counties that have joined Odyssey.

In this new order, the Supreme Court outlines two methods for parties to receive bulk information from the Odyssey system via the Indiana Division of State Court Administration.

On or before Oct. 1, the division will use what’s called a “file drop” method – placing Odyssey case records on a server for vendors and others with appropriate security permission to copy once a month. Fees for that method are: 1 cent for each closed case, 10 cents for an open or new case since the last file drop, and no charge for any updates to a case already provided.

On or before Jan. 1, 2012, the division can use a “messaging method” that creates and sends a message file each time an Odyssey case is added or edited. Fees for that method are: 1 cent for each closed case, 15 cents for an open or new case added since the last message, and no charge for updates to already-provided cases.

The division can exempt government and education entities from a portion or all of the fees, as long as those entities don’t sell the data or make commercial use of it. The division is also able to change the fees without further court approval as long as the fees don’t exceed fair market value for the information provided and notice has been posted online for 30 days.

Compiled information isn’t being provided at this time because it would divert the state court staff from its principal responsibilities, but the order states that recipients of the bulk information can compile that information themselves.

A separate order released this week amends Administrative Rule 9(E)(5) to allow local counties and courts to charge fees for electronic access to court records, subject to Division of State Court Administration approval. It also gives the Supreme Court the authority to adopt such a fee in instances where the public wants records from multiple courts. That rule amendment takes effect Oct. 1.
 

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