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Judiciary ready to move on appellate CMS, e-filing

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The state judiciary is moving forward with a plan to establish an appellate case management system, which someday could entail an e-filing system similar to what the federal courts currently have access to.

Late Friday afternoon, the Indiana Division of State Court Administration issued a public notice of contracting opportunity (PNCO) seeking proposals for an information technology system that would be put in place for the state’s appellate system. This move follows the February 2009 hiring of Indianapolis attorney Robert Rath to be the new director of appellate court technology, which was a position created in response to a National Center for State Courts study in 2007 about the Hoosier judiciary’s system.

Currently, the Indiana appellate case management system is one designed and built in the 1980s that has been gradually updated through the years, but largely remains the same. A new system would allow the courts to enter the 21st century, with the possibility of linking to the statewide case management system known as Odyssey, which is now implemented in about 50 trial courts and 21 counties throughout the state.

“This will be a major initiative for our courts over the next couple years, provided we can secure the necessary funding,” Indiana Supreme Court public information officer Kathryn Dolan wrote in a statement to Indiana Lawyer about the IT updates in recent months.

In the 27-page notice, the primary goals are to increase the appellate courts’ productivity and overall efficiency with a data-entry system that can produce real-time data validation. One component is to give litigants and attorneys the ability to file briefs and motions electronically and enable trial courts and clerks to file transcripts and records the same way online.

In previous interviews, Appellate Clerk Kevin Smith has told IL that a vision is to someday possibly have an online system similar to the Public Access to Court Electronic Records and Case Management/Electronic Case Files (PACER and CM/ECF). The path to that vision could take many forms and much is dependent on available funding and resources.

The notice discusses contractors considering phased development, where some aspects such as Tax Court filings, attorney discipline cases, or a certain type of case could be targeted initially. A launch of the project isn’t yet determined, the notice says.

Companies must submit their proposals and cost breakdowns by 4 p.m. Aug. 20. Questions and updates are due earlier that month, and the timeline following those submissions is still uncertain. The state hopes to have proposal evaluations at the end of September, the PNCO says. Interested vendors can register in advance for a pre-proposal conference set for July 22, by contacting Teresa Payne at tpayne@courts.state.in.us or (317) 233-1578. Details about the project and timeline can be found online at the state judiciary’s website.
 

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  2. The appellate court just said doctors can be sued for reporting child abuse. The most dangerous form of child abuse with the highest mortality rate of any form of child abuse (between 6% and 9% according to the below listed studies). Now doctors will be far less likely to report this form of dangerous child abuse in Indiana. If you want to know what this is, google the names Lacey Spears, Julie Conley (and look at what happened when uninformed judges returned that child against medical advice), Hope Ybarra, and Dixie Blanchard. Here is some really good reporting on what this allegation was: http://media.star-telegram.com/Munchausenmoms/ Here are the two research papers: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0145213487900810 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0145213403000309 25% of sibling are dead in that second study. 25%!!! Unbelievable ruling. Chilling. Wrong.

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  4. Mr. Levin says that the BMV engaged in misconduct--that the BMV (or, rather, someone in the BMV) knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged fees but did nothing to correct the situation. Such misconduct, whether engaged in by one individual or by a group, is called theft (defined as knowingly or intentionally exerting unauthorized control over the property of another person with the intent to deprive the other person of the property's value or use). Theft is a crime in Indiana (as it still is in most of the civilized world). One wonders, then, why there have been no criminal prosecutions of BMV officials for this theft? Government misconduct doesn't occur in a vacuum. An individual who works for or oversees a government agency is responsible for the misconduct. In this instance, somebody (or somebodies) with the BMV, at some time, knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged. What's more, this person (or these people), even after having the error of their ways pointed out to them, did nothing to fix the problem. Instead, the overcharges continued. Thus, the taxpayers of Indiana are also on the hook for the millions of dollars in attorneys fees (for both sides; the BMV didn't see fit to avail itself of the services of a lawyer employed by the state government) that had to be spent in order to finally convince the BMV that stealing money from Indiana motorists was a bad thing. Given that the BMV official(s) responsible for this crime continued their misconduct, covered it up, and never did anything until the agency reached an agreeable settlement, it seems the statute of limitations for prosecuting these folks has not yet run. I hope our Attorney General is paying attention to this fiasco and is seriously considering prosecution. Indiana, the state that works . . . for thieves.

  5. I'm glad that attorney Carl Hayes, who represented the BMV in this case, is able to say that his client "is pleased to have resolved the issue". Everyone makes mistakes, even bureaucratic behemoths like Indiana's BMV. So to some extent we need to be forgiving of such mistakes. But when those mistakes are going to cost Indiana taxpayers millions of dollars to rectify (because neither plaintiff's counsel nor Mr. Hayes gave freely of their services, and the BMV, being a state-funded agency, relies on taxpayer dollars to pay these attorneys their fees), the agency doesn't have a right to feel "pleased to have resolved the issue". One is left wondering why the BMV feels so pleased with this resolution? The magnitude of the agency's overcharges might suggest to some that, perhaps, these errors were more than mere oversight. Could this be why the agency is so "pleased" with this resolution? Will Indiana motorists ever be assured that the culture of incompetence (if not worse) that the BMV seems to have fostered is no longer the status quo? Or will even more "overcharges" and lawsuits result? It's fairly obvious who is really "pleased to have resolved the issue", and it's not Indiana's taxpayers who are on the hook for the legal fees generated in these cases.

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