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Justice: Fee hike could mean statewide case management system by 2017

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Indiana Lawyer Rehearing

If lawmakers during the next legislative session increase a statewide court fee an extra $3, Indiana Supreme Court Justice Frank Sullivan believes the state can fully implement a case management system in all county courts by June 30, 2017.

That would be slightly less than a decade since Indiana’s judiciary hired a Texas company to implement the statewide system known as Odyssey – longer than the original six-year time period expected back in 2002, but it’s expected to cost less than the $92 million originally estimated.

Justice Sullivan briefed the Commission on Courts today about the progress in the past year since his last update and prepared them for what’s needed to move the project forward.

“The reason good technology costs so much is because the economic and intangible benefit is so great,” he said during his nearly two-hour presentation, which highlighted the project’s successes and emphasized that Indiana is standing out nationally because of this type of technology.

Since Tyler Technologies came on board with its Odyssey system in December 2007, more than 62 courts in nearly two-dozen counties have signed onto the public-access system – roughly 25 percent of the state’s total caseload.

The prime source of funding for the Judicial Technology and Automation Committee project, which Justice Sullivan chairs, is an automated fee generated in certain cases throughout the state. Lawmakers first put the fee in place in 2002, starting at $2 then increasing it to $5 the next year, before the current rate of $7 went into effect several years ago. As of last month, the court fees had brought in $55.7 million and JTAC has spent that amount, Justice Sullivan reported.

How the JTAC efforts move forward depend largely on the funding and resources, Justice Sullivan said.

During the past year, members of the General Assembly have publicly questioned the financial wisdom of spending so much money on this JTAC project. Proposed hikes in the automated record-keeping fee in the past two sessions haven’t gained enough support to become law, though the Commission on Courts has twice approved the increase to help pay for the case management system.

Justice Sullivan prepared this report on the heels of those concerns, and he noted that JTAC has also complied with mandates put in place last year: to track courts’ mental health adjudications for federal firearms databases; for connecting protective order registries and prosecutors’ offices; and county court case management systems.

He also noted that JTAC is working with the state Department of Revenue about possible tax-refund interception for any unpaid court costs, something similar to what the state agency already does with unpaid child support and license or permit reviews.

Justice Sullivan also discussed how people involved with the Odyssey implementation are contributing economically to the state by using local businesses, and that JTAC is interested in discussing potential revenue-generating ideas with the other branches of government.

At today’s meeting, Johnson County Clerk Jill Jackson was the only commission member voicing opposition to the JTAC project funding. She was the sole vote against a similar proposal last year when the commission voted 9-1 in favor of the fee increase, and she echoed the same concerns now on grounds that private vendors offering these systems don’t receive state funding and could go out of business.

Members didn’t vote on the fee increase but will likely do that at the commission’s final meeting next month.

The commission also heard requests from Johnson, Bartholomew, Hamilton, and Allen county officials for new judicial officers, converting courts, and changing a court official’s status.
 

Rehearing "Plugging in trial courts" IL Aug. 19-Sept. 1, 2009

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  1. The $320,000 is the amount the school spent in litigating two lawsuits: One to release the report involving John Trimble (as noted in the story above) and one defending the discrimination lawsuit. The story above does not mention the amount spent to defend the discrimination suit, that's why the numbers don't match. Thanks for reading.

  2. $160k? Yesterday the figure was $320k. Which is it Indiana Lawyer. And even more interesting, which well connected law firm got the (I am guessing) $320k, six time was the fired chancellor received. LOL. (From yesterday's story, which I guess we were expected to forget overnight ... "According to records obtained by the Journal & Courier, Purdue spent $161,812, beginning in July 2012, in a state open records lawsuit and $168,312, beginning in April 2013, for defense in a federal lawsuit. Much of those fees were spent battling court orders to release an independent investigation by attorney John Trimble that found Purdue could have handled the forced retirement better")

  3. The numbers are harsh; 66 - 24 in the House, 40 - 10 in the Senate. And it is an idea pushed by the Democrats. Dead end? Ummm not necessarily. Just need to go big rather than go home. Nuclear option. Give it to the federal courts, the federal courts will ram this down our throats. Like that other invented right of the modern age, feticide. Rights too precious to be held up by 2000 years of civilization hang in the balance. Onward!

  4. I'm currently seeing someone who has a charge of child pornography possession, he didn't know he had it because it was attached to a music video file he downloaded when he was 19/20 yrs old and fought it for years until he couldn't handle it and plead guilty of possession. He's been convicted in Illinois and now lives in Indiana. Wouldn't it be better to give them a chance to prove to the community and their families that they pose no threat? He's so young and now because he was being a kid and downloaded music at a younger age, he has to pay for it the rest of his life? It's unfair, he can't live a normal life, and has to live in fear of what people can say and do to him because of something that happened 10 years ago? No one deserves that, and no one deserves to be labeled for one mistake, he got labeled even though there was no intent to obtain and use the said content. It makes me so sad to see someone I love go through this and it makes me holds me back a lot because I don't know how people around me will accept him...second chances should be given to those under the age of 21 at least so they can be given a chance to live a normal life as a productive member of society.

  5. It's just an ill considered remark. The Sup Ct is inherently political, as it is a core part of government, and Marbury V Madison guaranteed that it would become ever more so Supremely thus. So her remark is meaningless and she just should have not made it.... what she could have said is that Congress is a bunch of lazys and cowards who wont do their jobs so the hard work of making laws clear, oftentimes stops with the Sups sorting things out that could have been resolved by more competent legislation. That would have been a more worthwhile remark and maybe would have had some relevance to what voters do, since voters cant affect who gets appointed to the supremely un-democratic art III courts.

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