(CNS) – A computer error in Sacramento’s courts that resulted in the release of confidential information earlier this month is being blamed by the court’s top judge on an out-of-state server. “This would not have happened if we had our own server,” said Presiding Judge Steve White. The court is still moving to control its own destiny and its own server, he added, a decision that faces strong opposition from the leadership of California’s court system.
     “We’re doing exactly what we said we would,” White said in an interview this week. “We’re moving rapidly forward with setting up a server here.”
      White faulted Sacramento’s reliance on an Arizona-based server for the court’s myriad of technical problems with its case management system, including last week’s glitch. “The entirety of the problem is based on the configuration of the system and the Arizona server.”
     The latest problem flared when a glitch in the programming of Sacramento’s court computer system two weeks ago allowed the release of confidential information from electronic case files. The problem caused a total shutdown of the court’s case management system for about a week.
      That problem followed on the heels of a disagreement between the Sacramento court’s leadership and the central administrative body of California’s courts, the Judicial Council, over an out-of-state server and a costly makeover of the case management system pursued by the council. The Sacramento court wants direct control of a local server. The Judicial Council wants the court to stay with an Arizona-based server set by private consultant Deloitte Touche.
     The story took another twist when a news article about the shutdown quoted an official spokesman for the Administrative Office of the Courts — which is closely to tied to the Judicial Council — that seemed to suggest the shutdown was the result of an add-on computer program installed by the Sacramento court.
      The spokesman’s statements then drew an irate letter from White who leads the Sacramento court.
      In letter sent last week to William Vickrey, executive director of the Administrative Office of the Courts, White demanded an apology for what he termed the “inaccuracy” of spokesman Philip Carrizosa’s statements regarding the shutdown.
     “The release of confidential information was entirely the result of actions by the AOC contractor, Deloitte, which did not even inform our court of the changes it made or the resulting problem,” White wrote. “We were left to make the discovery on our own. Yet anyone reading the AOC’s press is told that the problem lies with our court. This is false. It is unfair and it is wrong. Judges and staff on this court find this most offensive.”
     As of this week, White said Vickrey has not responded independently to White’s letter.
     White said that although he doesn’t think the AOC “has singled us out” for criticism, he suspects that the AOC has “gotten defensive” about its problem-plagued Court Computer Management System, which may explain why the AOC rushed to blame his staff. Hitches with the estimated $2 billion project, intended to link trial courts with each other throughout the state, have particularly beleaguered Sacramento.
      White said CCMS could work for his court, if only the AOC would allow it to unplug from the Arizona server, like courts in Ventura and Orange counties have already done.
     Last month, White defied an order from the Judicial Council directing him to “maintain the status quo” and not pull out of Arizona. White said that the AOC has not made any further demands that Sacramento put its plans on hold, and has visited the court to look at the problems White has described with CCMS.
     White said he is not sure exactly when Sacramento’s own server will be up and running. “It’s not going to be tomorrow,” he said. “But we’re going through with it over the next few months.”

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