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In-box: Improving the way courts do business

March 2, 2011
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Letters to the Editor

To the editor:

Indiana courts are tackling a giant technology project. It matters because it affects both our efficiency and your ability to access court information for free. Right now, our state’s 400 trial courts don’t share case information with each other or with state agencies in the electronic ways that are so common in modern life. There are 21 different computer systems managing court information in our state. As you can imagine, we believe that is a bad business practice and we’re working to do better.

The solution is similar to getting your entire family on the same cell phone plan. It means some people have to get a new number, others have to change their ringtone, and old pictures have to be moved to a new phone. The company losing your business may not be very happy, but that’s not a reason to keep paying your old provider. In the end, it’s less expensive and just makes sense to have the entire family on one plan.

In 2007, we began installing our “family plan.” We selected it with the help of experts (14 bids were submitted to us). We did all the same things you do when changing carriers – considered what would be cost efficient, made sure everyone in the family could use the new system, and carefully searched for hidden costs! We’re confident we made the right choice with Tyler Technology’s case management system called “Odyssey.”

This new program is currently installed in 82 courts in 26 counties, comprising more than 30 percent of our state’s caseload. We’re continuing to install it in courts across Indiana as quickly and accurately as possible. We’re paying for it with federal grants and a $7 fee on certain court cases.

To speed up this installation, we’re asking the Legislature to temporarily increase that fee to $10, with an automatic reduction after we’re done. Finishing this project will finally allow all our courts to be on the same computer system. Essentially, our entire family will be able to share minutes, talk, and text. You have free public access to Odyssey at courts.in.gov.

We cannot afford to have our courts working on antiquated systems. With nearly 2 million cases filed each year in 400 courts with 175 clerks and 150 probation departments, spread across 36,000 square miles in communities large and small, it is imperative that we use technology to improve the way we do business.

Indiana Supreme Court Justice Randall T. Shepard
 

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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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