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Statewide system debuts in City Court

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Greenwood City Court is the state's first city or town court to start using a tool that will eventually connect all of Indiana courts' case management systems.

Greenwood will now be used as a guide for the 75 city and town courts statewide, the latest in a process that's gradually grown throughout Indiana since the system was first launched on a pilot basis in December 2007.

Known as the Odyssey computer system, it's been now installed at 23 courts in seven counties - making up 16 percent of all cases filed statewide, and City Judge Lewis Gregory's court is the newest addition with more than 7,000 new ordinance violations, traffic infractions, and misdemeanor criminal cases each year. The system went online there about a month ago.

Justice Frank Sullivan, who chairs the state's effort in implementing the system, joined Judge Gregory at a public demonstration today - along with other state and city officials; Sen. Richard Bray, R-Martinsville, who heads the Senate Judiciary Committee; and a handful of judges from the Johnson County legal community.

"In some ways, it's not a surprise that Greenwood would be the first to take this important step," Justice Sullivan said, pointing out that the northern Johnson County court is one of only two state-certified drug and recovery courts and has led the way in that area. "This court represents a milestone in our effort to modernize court technology in Indiana."

Through the Indiana Supreme Court's Judicial Technology and Automation Committee (JTAC), Odyssey connects each court's system with others throughout the state and gives them access to police, state agency, and protective order registries. That includes an e-traffic ticket feature that allows Indiana State Police and authorities to use scanning equipment in their patrol cars to print out citations, and then send that information electronically between the police, courts, and Bureau of Motor Vehicles.

More installations are scheduled for later this year, including the New Haven City Court on July 1. The program will also go through an update in 60 to 90 days to include probation departments from all counties where the system is operating, Justice Sullivan said. Testing will begin on that aspect in coming weeks.

Justice Sullivan estimates that it could take five years to plug all of the remaining county courts into the system, and much depends on funding resources. Courts pay no installation costs, training costs, license fees, or annual maintenance costs for Odyssey; those costs are paid by JTAC using the proceeds from a court filing fee dedicated to the project by the General Assembly - a fee that is expected to increase once lawmakers institute a final budget this summer.

Once a court is added to Odyssey, the case information is available at no cost to the public online at http://courts.IN.gov.

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  2. Seventh Circuit Court Judge Diane Wood has stated in “The Rule of Law in Times of Stress” (2003), “that neither laws nor the procedures used to create or implement them should be secret; and . . . the laws must not be arbitrary.” According to the American Bar Association, Wood’s quote drives home this point: The rule of law also requires that people can expect predictable results from the legal system; this is what Judge Wood implies when she says that “the laws must not be arbitrary.” Predictable results mean that people who act in the same way can expect the law to treat them in the same way. If similar actions do not produce similar legal outcomes, people cannot use the law to guide their actions, and a “rule of law” does not exist.

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