Dallas County Overrules Judges’ Wishes

     DALLAS (CN) – Dallas County approved $1.1 million in funding for installation of a controversial criminal court case management system that judges say is full of glitches.
     The Dallas County Commissioners Court on Tuesday approved funding for its share of the TechShare Court Project by a 4-0 vote. The money will result in TechShare being installed in four criminal courts by the end of the year.
     The system is being developed by Dallas, Travis and Tarrant counties through the Conference of Urban Counties because a private contractor the trio hired in 2012 – American Cadastre – is bankrupt .
     The Conference of Urban Counties hired American Cadastre’s former employees to finish writing the code. The $1.1 million is the first of three installments in the next three years needed to complete installation – an additional $2.4 million is needed. That money is on top of the $8.8 million Dallas County already has paid into the system – $1.8 million of which was approved in February over the objections of all 31 county criminal court judges.
     The judges wrote a letter asking the commissioners’ court to halt funding of the still-in-development system. They want the county to adopt the Odyssey case management system for criminal courts, a system the county already uses for its civil courts. Odyssey is owned by Plano-based private contractor Tyler Technologies and is emerging as the case management system of choice in cities, counties and school districts nationwide.
     The fifth member of the commission, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, abstained. He was unhappy the measure was not included on the meeting agenda for public review a week earlier. The measure was placed under the agenda’s “time sensitive” section instead. Jenkins voted against TechShare’s continued funding in February.
     Commissioner Elba Garcia also voted against the funding then, criticizing the county for “picking up the pieces” of a system that “could not prove itself in the market.” She voted for the funding Tuesday, but warned she would vote against more funding if a firm timeline for the project is not fleshed out.
     Commissioner Theresa Daniel voiced her support for TechShare during last month’s meeting, saying all deadlines had been met. She touted the importance of the county “controlling our own destiny,” developing its own system rather than being at the mercy of outside vendors.

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