Dallas Courts Try to Modernize

     DALLAS (CN) – Dallas is set to approve a new $5.2 million case management computer system for municipal courts, replacing a decades-old system that drew constant criticism from city officials, judges and attorneys.
     The City Council will vote today on a 5-year contract with Dallas-based Tyler Technologies.
     If approved, the city will pay $2.76 million to install the system and $514,000 for each year of the contract. About $2.5 million will come from appropriations from city budgets; the other $2.7 million will be financed by equipment acquisition loans from 2010, according to the City Council agenda.
     Seven vendors bid on the project. Although Tyler’s $4.76 million bid was the second lowest, the firm received the highest vendor score based on negotiated systems and pricing.
     Similar Tyler case management systems are use by the Dallas County Clerk, Dallas County District Clerk and Collin County District Clerk. The systems maintaining paperless, digital court records that eliminate the need for voluminous physical records.
     City administrators in August accused municipal judges of being too soft on defendants, making it too easy for them to ignore citations, costing the city millions of dollars in lost revenue.
     The city’s 2-year study of the courts found a high percentage of dismissals by municipal judges, and that 36 percent of notices were ignored by defendants.
     It also found that nonfinancial penalties, such as time served and community service, were used too often to dispose of cases and that only 25 percent of the face value of fines are ever collected.
     The study found that the city collected only 37 percent of eligible court costs while state courts collected 100 percent.
     The study also found that Dallas collects $41.49 in revenue per case on average, compared with $104.34 in Irving, $98.90 in Arlington and $53.93 in Fort Worth.

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