IndyBar News

February 22, 2011

Improving The Way Courts Do Business

By Indiana Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard

Indiana courts are tackling a giant technology project. It matters because it affects both our efficiency and your ability to access court information for free. Right now, our state’s 400 trial courts don’t share case information with each other or with state agencies in the electronic ways that are so common in modern life. There are 21 different computer systems managing court information in our state. As you can imagine, we believe that is a bad business practice and we’re working to do better.

The solution is similar to getting your entire family on the same cell phone plan. It means some people have to get a new number, others have to change their ringtone, and old pictures have to be moved to a new phone. The company losing your business may not be very happy, but that’s not a reason to keep paying your old provider. In the end, it’s less expensive and just makes sense to have the entire family on one plan.

In 2007, we began installing our “family plan.” We selected it with the help of experts (14 bids were submitted to us). We did all the same things you do when changing carriers—considered what would be cost efficient, made sure everyone in the family could use the new system, and carefully searched for hidden costs! We’re confident we made the right choice with Tyler Technology’s case management system, called “Odyssey.”

This new program is currently installed in 82 courts in 26 counties, comprising more than 30% of our state’s caseload. We’re continuing to install it in courts across Indiana as quickly and accurately as possible. We’re paying for it with federal grants and a $7 fee on certain court cases.

To speed up this installation, we’re asking the Legislature to temporarily increase that fee to $10, with an automatic reduction after we’re done. Finishing this project will finally allow all our courts to be on the same computer system. Essentially, our entire family will be able to share minutes, talk, and text. You have free public access to Odyssey at courts.in.gov.

We cannot afford to have our courts working on antiquated systems. With nearly 2 million cases filed each year in 400 courts with 175 clerks and 150 probation departments, spread across 36,000 square miles in communities large and small, it is imperative that we use technology to improve the way we do business.