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Odyssey court system debuts next week

More than 1.8 million cases per year are handled by Indiana’s 401 courts in 92 counties, but the information they collect generally isn’t available across county lines or to state officials and policy makers or members of the public who need it.
Beginning next week, Harrison County will change that as it becomes the 15th county in Indiana ‘ and the second in Southern Indiana ‘ to fully implement the Odyssey Case Management System.
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 CMS.
The last time Harrison County’s court system was at the forefront of a statewide move like Odyssey was for the INcite marriage license program in May 2007.
The Judicial Technology and Automation Committee has already deployed the Odyssey CMS in Floyd, DeKalb, Hamilton, Monroe, Owen, Parke, Rush, Tipton, Warren and Washington counties, as well as Greenwood City Court in Johnson County, New Haven City Court in Allen County, St. Joseph traffic processing (distributed over four courts) and Marion County traffic court, along with Center, Franklin, Washington and Wayne Township Small Claims courts.
The Division of State Court Administration anticipates that it will be several years before statewide implementation is achieved.
‘This will be a tremendous help in every area of the clerk’s office,’ Harrison County Clerk Sherry Brown said. ‘Our staff will be able to instantly enter court cases online and have them available for attorneys outside the county. Financially, it will help us track the amount of money we are to send the state when we collect fees. The interaction with other courts will be an asset, as will the ability to look up protective orders to see if an individual has another protective order in another county that’s using the system. This is a win-win situation all the way around.’
Brown said a lump sum of $136 is charged for a divorce, but 10 to 15 different fees go into the amount. Odyssey tracks the fees automatically so Brown’s staff can track daily how much money goes to the state and county general. There will also likely be a decrease in the cost of trial court operations.
‘So far, the more I learn about the system, the more I like it,’ Harrison Circuit Court Judge H. Lloyd (Tad) Whitis said. ‘The JTAC instructors who have been here since Dec. 14 are extremely knowledgeable, helpful and friendly. As some are resistant to change, once they become familiar with the system, (Odyssey) will be an automatic assistant to help make their work more efficient and accurate.
‘A real plus will be for attorneys and other members of the public to have the ability to use a computer and determine the status or events in a case or cases of interest to them, at anytime day or night. I’ve wanted a case management system since 1999, and this is the first system approved by the Indiana Supreme Court.’
Away from the courthouse and Harrison County Justice Center, Brown said people will be able to pull up their own case histories and court dates and times online, and they’ll be able to find out whether their case is being held in Harrison Circuit or Superior court at (do not put ‘www’ as a prefix).
Since Odyssey is provided by the state, the only expense incurred by the county to institute the program is the upkeep of its Internet connection and covering additional resources to work backlogs during training.
‘Through grants, the state has provided all of the hardware we needed, and, since the program is Internet-based, we didn’t need additional computers,’ Brown said. ‘The only thing we’ll need at the outset is patience from the public as we work through a few of the kinks.’
Indiana Supreme Court Justice Frank Sullivan Jr., who chairs JTAC, will be at the Harrison County Court House Monday at 11 a.m. to officially announce the implementation of Odyssey.