Clay County is the first to test a statewide, revolutionary software program.
In a presentation Wednesday, state and county officials announced their plans to start "user acceptance testing" for the Judicial Technology and Automation Committee's case management software (CMS). Clay will be the first of Indiana's 92 counties to test the software, with other "pilot" counties to be included in the testing in the next few months.
Indiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Randall T. Sheppard and Indiana Supreme Court Associate Justice Frank Sullivan, Jr., Judges Blaine Akers and Ernest Yelton, Clerk Mary Brown, JTAC Representative Bob Mount, and Computer Associates Representative James Mount all took part in the presentation, explaining the software's capabilities and uses.
Created by Computer Associates, a well-known computer company, the CMS will centralize information and put it at the fingertips of Indiana governmental officials statewide, allowing them to share and file information much more efficiently.
"I hope you can see what a significant milestone today is," Sheppard said. "We look forward to working with you in this most important role."
In 2002, 1.9 million cases were filed in Indiana. Records, which are kept for every case, will be filed with the software.
Eventually, every case filed within the state will be accessible through the software.
Sheppard noted that while most Indiana counties do have some form of filing software, most of them are outdated and nearly none of them allow counties to connect with other counties.
The "connectivity" offered by the JTAC software will give judges, clerks, and other county and state officials unparalleled resources for filing and information, he said. For example, judges will be able to find a defendant's history easily, allowing them to see if said defendant has any warrants or cases pending in other counties. The system will also connect to other departments, such as the Bureau of Motor Vehicles.
Currently, Clay is one of the last Indiana counties to use a manual filing system. The fact that there was no software to change over was a factor in JTAC's decision to test the CMS at the Clay County Courthouse. For the few counties still under a manual system, the software will provide a much more efficient, easy-to-manage filing program that make it harder to lose important documents.
As of now the software is not being used for official purposes, only testing. JTAC representatives will monitor the use of the software in the courthouse, helping employees learn their way around it and making note of glitches.
At first, scripted scenarios will be entered into the software to test its capabilities. Eventually, "free form" testing will begin. During this phase, information will be entered into the software as it comes to the court.
Judge Yelton said he was very happy to have a part in the software's early stages.
"We consider this an extreme honor," he said.
JTAC Field Representative Mount also said a few words, outlining Clay County's importance in the testing process.
"This system is probably going to be one of the best in the world," he said. "Certainly one of the best in the country. You will be the last people to go 'yes, this is good' before we roll it out."
The software is designed to integrate with itself, allowing it to be coded in phases. The first two phases, or "releases," will be for civil and criminal courts, respectively. The third version will be for prosecutors, probation officers, juvenile courts, and other branches. The fourth and final version will be for other governmental agencies.
Mount said all four releases should be "done and tested by approximately the first part of next year." It will take an estimated three years to implement the program statewide.