By Mary L. DePrez | Director and Counsel for Trial Court Technology, Office of Judicial Administration
Case management systems
In the State of Indiana there are close to 400 courts serving the state’s 92 counties. Approximately 300 of those are trial courts; the remaining courts serve smaller units of government: cities, towns, or townships. Although the types of cases these courts handle varies, meticulous records are kept in every case filed in every such court. A large majority of Indiana courts maintain these records in court “dockets,” officially called the “chronological case summary” or “CCS,” on all of their cases using a computer program called a “case management system” or “CMS.”
When the Odyssey voyage began
Ten years ago, trial courts in Indiana employed one of 23 different case management systems, if they used one at all. Each county was an isolated silo of information, disconnected from other counties. Adding insult to injury, a city or town court in a given county used a different case management system from the trial courts in that county.
The Indiana Supreme Court gave Trial Court Technology (TCT) the task of one of the most ambitious projects in Indiana Supreme Court history – equip all Indiana courts with a 21st century case management system and connect the courts’ systems with each other and with those who need and use court information.
In 2006, following the recommendation of three review committees which oversaw a 10-month procurement process, the Indiana Supreme Court chose Tyler Technologies Inc. to provide its Odyssey Case Management System (Odyssey) to Indiana courts and clerks. In December of 2007, the first installment of Odyssey was launched in the courts of Monroe County and in the Washington Township Small Claims Court in Marion County.
Every year since 2007, additional courts have transitioned to Odyssey. A major milestone was reached this past May when the trial courts in the second largest county, Lake, made the conversion to Odyssey. The biggest challenges of converting Lake County was the large number of users and that courthouses were located in four different cities: Crown Point, Gary, East Chicago, and Hammond.
A key component to accomplishing a smooth transition to Odyssey in Lake County was working hand-in-hand with an internal committee of Lake County stakeholders. Chaired by Judge John Sedia, TCT staff coordinated all deployment efforts with this working group.
In addition to the chairman, Lake County members included Judge John Pera, Judge Julie Cantrell, Judge Marissa McDermott, Judge Diane Kavadias Schneider, Clerk Mike Brown, Chief Deputy Clerk Sylvia Brown, and Data Processing Department Executive Director Mark Pearman.
During April and May, over 450 court and clerk employees were trained to use Odyssey and its various interfaces with state agencies. In addition, TCT provided training to the staff in the prosecutor’s office, public defender’s office, Sheriff’s office, and probation departments and offered several education sessions to the legal community.
The county ‘turned-off’ their use of the Legacy case management system on Friday afternoon, May 18, and the TCT data conversion team began work immediately. Over that weekend, 2,338,223 court cases were converted to Odyssey.
On the following Monday morning, Odyssey was up and running in Lake County right on schedule!
In addition to the 28 TCT staff who provided hands-on support to the court and clerk users for the next two weeks, TCT welcomed the assistance of some seasoned Odyssey court and clerk users from other counties who volunteered to help.
Special thanks to the following: Tippecanoe County Clerk Christa Coffey, Hamilton County Superior Court Judge William Hughes, Delaware County Clerk Mike King; Shelby County Superior Court Judge David Riggins, and Porter County Deputy Clerks Carrie Martin and Kathy Hartwig.
Indiana Court Information Technology Extranet (INcite)
Trial Court Technology created INcite, a secure extranet website that serves as a single environment for hosting all of the web-based applications that the Supreme Court currently provides or will provide in the future.
Contemporaneous with the conversion to Odyssey, TCT deployed two INcite applications: the Public Defender Information System (PDIS) and the Supervised Release System (SRS).
PDIS is an INcite application that interfaces with Odyssey and helps public defenders manage their assigned cases and complete required state reports.
SRS is a case management system for community supervision agencies and it connects to other statewide initiatives that are housed within INcite. These initiatives include Risk Assessment, Abstract of Judgment, Case Plan, and the Presentence Investigation applications.
TCT staff trained administrative staff and 68 attorneys serving in the Lake County Public Defender’s Office during the month of May. They also deployed SRS to more than 60 users in the county probation department and the Lake County Alcohol and Drug Offender Service division.
The voyage continues
Today over 300 courts in 66 counties are using Odyssey, and 78% of all cases filed in Indiana courts are now in Odyssey. Additional Odyssey deployments are scheduled for 2018 and 2019 with new counties requesting Odyssey each month.
Every county deployment is unique and time consuming. It takes the TCT data conversion team months to ensure that the legacy data is accurately converted to Odyssey. Preparation includes weeks of training court and clerk staff prior to system deployment. TCT employees remain in the county to assist users for two weeks following implementation of Odyssey.
With careful planning and the continued cooperation of judges and clerks, Odyssey could be up and running in every trial court throughout the state by the end of 2021.
For additional information on Odyssey, please contact Mary DePrez at (317) 234-2604 or email@example.com.