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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. Have been seeing this wonderful physician for a few years and was one of his patients who told him about what we were being told at CVS. Multiple ones. This was a witch hunt and they shold be ashamed of how patients were treated. Most of all, CVS should be ashamed for what they put this physician through. So thankful he fought back. His office is no "pill mill'. He does drug testing multiple times a year and sees patients a minimum of four times a year.

  2. Brian W, I fear I have not been sufficiently entertaining to bring you back. Here is a real laugh track that just might do it. When one is grabbed by the scruff of his worldview and made to choose between his Confession and his profession ... it is a not a hard choice, given the Confession affects eternity. But then comes the hardship in this world. Imagine how often I hear taunts like yours ... "what, you could not even pass character and fitness after they let you sit and pass their bar exam ... dude, there must really be something wrong with you!" Even one of the Bishop's foremost courtiers said that, when explaining why the RCC refused to stand with me. You want entertaining? How about watching your personal economy crash while you have a wife and five kids to clothe and feed. And you can't because you cannot work, because those demanding you cast off your Confession to be allowed into "their" profession have all the control. And you know that they are wrong, dead wrong, and that even the professional code itself allows your Faithful stand, to wit: "A lawyer may refuse to comply with an obligation imposed by law upon a good faith belief that no valid obligation exists. The provisions of Rule 1.2(d) concerning a good faith challenge to the validity, scope, meaning or application of the law apply to challenges of legal regulation of the practice of law." YET YOU ARE A NONPERSON before the BLE, and will not be heard on your rights or their duties to the law -- you are under tyranny, not law. And so they win in this world, you lose, and you lose even your belief in the rule of law, and demoralization joins poverty, and very troubling thoughts impeaching self worth rush in to fill the void where your career once lived. Thoughts you did not think possible. You find yourself a failure ... in your profession, in your support of your family, in the mirror. And there is little to keep hope alive, because tyranny rules so firmly and none, not the church, not the NGO's, none truly give a damn. Not even a new court, who pay such lip service to justice and ancient role models. You want entertainment? Well if you are on the side of the courtiers running the system that has crushed me, as I suspect you are, then Orwell must be a real riot: "There will be no curiosity, no enjoyment of the process of life. All competing pleasures will be destroyed. But always — do not forget this, Winston — always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — forever." I never thought they would win, I always thought that at the end of the day the rule of law would prevail. Yes, the rule of man's law. Instead power prevailed, so many rules broken by the system to break me. It took years, but, finally, the end that Dr Bowman predicted is upon me, the end that she advised the BLE to take to break me. Ironically, that is the one thing in her far left of center report that the BLE (after stamping, in red ink, on Jan 22) is uninterested in, as that the BLE and ADA office that used the federal statute as a sword now refuses to even dialogue on her dire prediction as to my fate. "C'est la vie" Entertaining enough for you, status quo defender?

  3. Low energy. Next!

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