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Marion County’s Odyssey transition: a tech-free week

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The clerk’s office in Indianapolis’ City-County Building is in the middle of a throwback week, revisiting a simpler time when a hand stamp on paper was all you needed to file court documents. Blame technology.

“We’ll be taking a step back in time to step forward,” said Scott Hohl, chief deputy for the Marion County Clerk’s Office, about the ongoing conversion of civil courts to the state-supported Odyssey case management system.
 

15col-Odyseey.jpg Janelle Dewitt, left, instructs court staff on using the Odyssey case management system that was installed the week of May 6 in the City-County Building in Indianapolis. Marion Superior Civil Division courts will be without a usable CMS until May 13. (IL Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

Hohl and Angie Nussmeyer, press secretary for the clerk’s office, discussed the conversion before it was to begin at the close of business May 3. Because of the complexities of moving to the new system, the long-used JUSTIS system had to be shut down ahead of Odyssey’s go-live date of May 13.

“What folks will find if they come to file a new civil case is our office can accept them, but it will be a manual process,” Nussmeyer said. Court users will be able to make payments, too, but handwritten receipts may be issued, and there could be some delays in disbursements. Child support, probation and bond payments shouldn’t be affected, Nussmeyer said, nor would protective order operations.

Despite the inconvenience, Marion Superior Judge James Osborn said that when Odyssey is fully implemented, the county courts will get a system connected to courts and court users around the state, and taxpayers will get a break. The conversion will save the county courts $1.6 million annually spent to maintain the retiring JUSTIS case management system, he said.

“I suspect the legal community won’t be thrilled next week,” Osborn said on the eve of the conversion May 2. “It’ll work itself out.”

Osborn predicted court users “will be thrilled with the access to information” not available through JUSTIS.
 

EXTRA
The Marion County Clerk’s Office has posted on its website details about operational impacts this week of conversion to the Odyssey case management system. Details are available here.

Osborn has worked with Marion Superior judges Kimberly Brown, Sheila Carlisle and Heather Welch on a committee overseeing the conversion. The courts hope to convert the criminal division to Odyssey by July 2014, he said. That’s when the state’s revised criminal code reclassifying offenses into six levels from the current four is scheduled to take effect.

Updating JUSTIS to comply with the changing criminal code won’t be an option. “The cost of that is completely prohibitive. We would be better off to go with a paper system than to convert it,” Osborn said.

A paper system is in essence what Marion Superior’s civil division has during the current transition week.

Beforehand, the clerk’s office informed attorneys through bar associations and other avenues that wherever possible, they should file before or after the week beginning May 6. But the office braced for inevitable slowdowns, advising on its website, “Expect a delay as any updating will be done manually and not entered into Odyssey until after Monday, May 13.”
 

osborn Osborn

Hohl said any filings accepted the week of May 6 may create a backlog and result in delays during the following weeks, too. Clerks may have to work overtime to catch up.

During the transition, the office will be without access to electronic civil case file records, though records through May 3 will continue to be available online through the paid public site, www.indygov.biz.

In the transition, only active and open civil case files will migrate to Odyssey, the clerk’s office said. That’s about 160,000 case files of the approximately 2 million in the JUSTIS system. The remainder of the files will be available through an archived data warehouse accessible through the indygov.biz portal. Should those cases become active in the future, they’ll be imported into Odyssey, Osborn said.

As with all Odyssey courts, searchable public court records for current Marion County civil cases will be available free online after May 13 at mycase.in.gov.

No more civil JUSTIS

Marion County’s conversion won’t be the largest by record volume that’s been undertaken by the Judicial Technology and Automation Committee of the Division of State Court Administration, because most courts have transferred past and current case records. But Donna Edgar, a consultant and project manager for JTAC, said Marion County’s switch is the most complex to date.

“JUSTIS is older technology. Generally, when we convert a county we do it over a weekend,” Edgar said. “For Marion County, they simply cannot pull the data from JUSTIS and get it prepared and passed over to us in a timeframe that allows us to do it over a weekend.”

Part of the difficulty is JTAC never has experienced a beast such as JUSTIS, a DOS-based system that dates to 1988 and relies on F-key functions for data entry. The system was designed particularly for Marion County and is the only one of its kind in the state.

“Our data conversion team had to rewrite the entire JUSTIS system for the conversion process,” Edgar said. “JUSTIS just isn’t used anywhere else, so we started from square one.”

Mary DePrez, director and counsel for trial court technology at JTAC, said the conversion to JUSTIS is the largest in terms of number of staff members receiving training. Hohl said 30 to 40 people will be using Odyssey in Marion County’s civil division. They received training throughout the week of April 29.

“That’s why this project takes so long and costs so much,” DePrez said of the rollout of Odyssey, so far deployed to 151 courts in 45 of the state’s 92 counties over the course of more than five years. “When we started there were 23 different case management systems” that Odyssey would replace. “JUSTIS is one of the oldest.”

Nevertheless, Hohl said the system has been a workhorse. “JUSTIS, for as old as it is, had robust functionalities,” he said, including components for financial accounting that many other systems lack.

“At the end of the day, you’re talking about changing the case management system for the 12th largest city in the nation. We’re doing a good job to limit the delays as much as humanly possible.”

Odyssey wins funding

Indiana Chief Justice Brent Dickson’s appeal to the Legislature for a boost in JTAC funding this year paid off, though not quite as much as he sought. Dickson asked lawmakers to increase a civil filing fee from $5 to $10, but lawmakers settled on an increase to $7, which restores funding to the pre-2011 level.

House Enrolled Act 1393 also creates an oversight committee that will report to the Legislature on matters including whether funding for Odyssey should be extended, DePrez said. At IL deadline, HEA 1393 had not been signed by Gov. Mike Pence.

“It sunsets in two years, so that’s pretty limiting for us,” she said of the filing fee increase, which would be collected for JTAC only in courts that currently use Odyssey. In counties using another CMS, the county clerk’s office will retain the fee for operation and maintenance of their systems.

Along with trying to meet Marion County’s hopes to have all courts using Odyssey in about 14 months, DePrez said several other larger counties – Allen, Porter and St. Joseph – also have Odyssey partially installed. JTAC wants to prioritize completion of the installation in those counties and start the conversion in Vanderburgh County.

DePrez said JTAC hasn’t yet considered how to address the future reclassification of the criminal code. “The nice thing about Odyssey is we’ll make those changes at the top level and they will filter down to all the courts using Odyssey,” she said.•
 

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  1. This guy sounds like the classic molester/manipulator.

  2. Louis D. Brandeis was born in 1856. At 9 years of age it would have been 1865. The Brandeis family did not own slaves. My source Louis D. Brandeis: A Life, by Melvin L. Urofsky.

  3. My name is Matthew Lucas Major, I recently went through a jury trial in Bloomington , In. It was the week of Feb 19-21. Although I have been incarcerated since August 5, 2014. The reason I 'am writing to you sir is on the 21 of February the jury came in with a very excessive and wrongful verdict of guilty on 6 child molesting charges against my daughter who was 9 at the time I was accused. I also had 2 other Felonies one of Intimidation and 1 of Sexual Vicarious Gratification. Judge Marc Kellam on the second day of trial gave me a not guilty on those 2 felonies. The jury was sent out during that time and when brought back Judge Kellam told them to not concern themselves with the 2 Felonies that he ruled on them. They were told to not let evidence they had already heard influence there verdicts. I never in my life touched any child sexually and definitely not with my own daughter. When I was arrested Detective Shawn Karr told me I would be convicted guilty just on my daughters word even without evidence. That's just what happened. my public defender did me so wrong he never once proved to the court and jury all the lies the child told, and Jeremy Noel my public defender could of proven the lies easily. The stories in Serenity's depositions and Forensic interview changed and were not consistent as Prosecutor Darcie Fawcett claimed they were. Yet my attorney never mentioned that. The facts that the child accused me of full penetration in her vagina and rectum was proven lies. Doctor Roberta Hibbard of Riley hospital in Indianapolis confirmed Serenity's hymen intact, no scars, no tearing, no signs of rape to her. Yet my attorney didn't use that knowledge . the DNA was all in my favor. I tell you I will spend my entire life in prison going through rape and beatings etc. even Judge Kellam abused his authority by telling the jurors to listen and believe what the prosecutors side in evidence like my daughters testimony. In one interview with the detectives my daughter got flustered with her mom and said on camera " I'm saying what you told me to mom"!! Yet Mr. Noel said nor did anything to even resemble a defense attorney. Judge Kellam allowed edited version of a taped conversation between the child and her mother. Also Judge Kellam allowed the Prosecutor too bring in to my case a knife found under my seat, the knife wasn't part of my case. She was allowed by my attorney and the judge to put a huge picture of it on the screen and huge picture of my naked privates in a full courtroom and open court. Ms. Fawcett says to jury see how easy Mr. Major could reach the knife and cut his Childs throat. Even though I had no weapons charge against these cases. This gave the jurors prejudice thought against me thinking I threatened her with that knife and how scared she would of been knowing i could get it and kill her. On my sentencing court March 19, 2014 my public defender told Judge Kellam he wish to resign from being my attorney and wished for the court to give me outside council to file a error to trial or appeal. We were denied. Now after openly knowing my public defender don't want to represent me he has to. Well when as parents we make our kids clean a room when they really don't wish to, well the child will but don't mean she will do a good job, that's where I'm at with Mr. Noel. please dont ignore mine and my families pleas for your help . we have all the legal proof you could need to prove Im innocent. Please dont make my spend years in prison innocent when you can fix this wrong. Im not saying Im a perfect man or that I was a perfect dad to my 2 children none of us are. Ive made some bad choices in life and I paid for them. But I didnt ever touch or rape my daughter . I love my children with all my heart. And now through needing attention and a ex-wife who told my granny several times she wish she could put me in prison to get me out of their lives. Well my ex finally accomplished her goal. Sad part is she is destroying our daughter with all this horrific lies and things she taught my daughter to say. My daughter will need therapist to ever hope for a chance of a normal life after what she had done to her by her mom and their side of the family. My daughter told everyone even on stand she had a dream months before i supposedly molested her in this dream I was molesting her and when I finally did it matched her dream perfectly. She admitted to watching movies about little girls being molested and watching U-Tube videos about child molesting all before it happened supposedly to her. Doesn't that sound very unusual that a non molested 9 yr old would need to know so much about being molested? The only reason I could think a 9 year old would need so much information is to be prepared to know what to say and be able to say how it felt what took place etc.. So when questioned by authorities she would be prepared. And there again sir if a parent is pre grooming a 9 year old child she would need intimate details . Like telling her daughter about a couple moles on my private area. The child admitted to sneaking my cell and looking many many times at nudes of me and my girlfriend even one where my penis was entering my girlfriends vagina. In that picture my moles are obvious. Yet when prosecutor showed everyone in court my privates and pictures of the moles she said the only way the child would know about them is if she saw them for herself. My attorney once again said nothing about the pictures my child saw. Or could a ex-wife be able to describe my moles to help her case against getting rid of me? I beg you help me. This is my very existence. Ive lost everything , a good job, a wonderful girlfriend, my freedom, but worse thing Ive lost is my children. They were my reason to get up every morning and strive to be better. The wonderful bond I had with my Serenity is gone. After this I would be afraid to even hug her for fear of what next can they do to me. I'm not afraid to tell you I sit here in this cell and try to hold back my tears. Everyone knows you cant show weakness in prison. My life has already been threatened here at Wabash Valley Prison. After only 3 days of arrival. I was tricked into signing a waiver now Im in G Block General Population with 6 child molesting felony charges. Mrs. Hart as a 18 year old I almost died hooked to machines in hospital almost 1 month and now I know that fear was childish compared to this . I cant help but put emotions in this, after all Mrs. Hart Im human and God help Me I never been more afraid in my life. I didnt hurt my little girl I didnt touch her sexually. As much as it shreds me and fills my mind what Im facing I worry more about my mom and granny because of their great love for me mam they are suffering so deeply. I aint done this things but my loved ones suffering right along beside me and If you take my case you will be in essence freeing them also. I sent momma this letter and asked her to email it to you. I'm scared I have been done so unjustly by our legal system and I need you to fix this and give me freedom. I ask you please don't just ignore my pleas. Here in America its nice to be able to trust our legal justice system, well they destroyed my and my loved ones trust in our justice system . And I'm trusting in You !!! My entire family is suffering this nightmare with me. My 77 year old granny had a stroke and isn't doing so well. My single mother that raised 3 kids alone is dying from Lupus and since my arrest has stayed so sick and weary. Our lives torn to peices by a government I was taught I could trust in. my momma has tried so many innocent project and wrongfully accused and cant get anywhere. please please help me. A quote from the late Nelson Mandela: To be free is not merely to cast off ones chains, But to live in a way that respects and enhances The Freedom Of Others. I have Faith in you and your clinic to cast my chains off and give me freedom I do deserve as a wrongfully accused Man, son, brother, father, friend. Matthew Major DOC# 246179 Cause # : 53c02-1308-FA-000779 God Bless you. Please contact me with your decision so I know you made a life changing decision for me , just please at least write me so I know you care enough about your citizens to respond to cries for your help. You can speak openly with my mother Charlotte Spain (828) 476-0406: 71 Lakeview Dr. Canton, NC 28716 Thank You Matthew Major I know yall get thousands of request and inmates claiming innocence, and each person who are innocent deserve to have organizations like yours willing to fight for them and I give yall so much Thanks and I thank God everyday yall are out there caring enough to help free the innocents. Since discovering firsthand how easily lives and families can be destroyed by Poor Defense attorneys not doing their job . And Prosecutors allowed to do as they please in court

  4. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  5. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

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