|Oregon State Bar Bulletin — NOVEMBER 2011|
By Paul De Muniz
Oregon is making great strides toward implementing a statewide Oregon eCourt system, Oregon’s effort to create a statewide electronic courthouse and replace our aging and increasingly outdated OJIN system.
The Judicial Department has contracted with Tyler Technologies to implement its Odyssey system in all Oregon circuit courts, following a competitive bidding process. This “single—solution provider” approach will provide a single integrated system and reduce the cost and risk of Oregon eCourt.
We plan to install Odyssey in Yamhill County Circuit Court in June 2012. In the following year, we will expand into Multnomah, Jackson, Crook, Jefferson and Linn Counties as early adopter courts. All Odyssey components — including eFiling, ePayment and online document and schedule access — would be fully available in each county for all case types following each local implementation. After the early adopter courts are completed, we anticipate rolling out Odyssey on a regional basis throughout the state — a three-year process, contingent on legislative funding.
As you may know, the legislature is expanding its oversight of state technology projects, including Oregon eCourt. I agreed with legislative leadership earlier this year to an aggressive schedule of plan updates and other steps to further reduce the risk of implementing this comprehensive technology upgrade and business transformation process. The last two reports from the Oregon eCourt Quality Assurance provider have noted declining program risks — making Oregon eCourt a safer public investment.
Tyler has successfully implemented the Odyssey system in six states — including Minnesota, Indiana and New Mexico — and also in large county-run court systems, including Miami, Dallas, Detroit, Atlanta and Las Vegas. Oregon would join a large community of Odyssey users with whom to share experiences, fixes and upgrades.
The Oregon eCourt Program already has produced multiple benefits for the courts and legal community. In addition to the complete eCourt system in Oregon’s appellate courts, we have improved user-based websites for all circuit courts, provided wireless access in every courthouse, expanded video conferencing capacity statewide and established better information security and data backup for disaster recovery.
Once Oregon eCourt is implemented, members of the bar will realize additional benefits. Having eFiling will mean fewer trips to the courthouse and the ability to file cases and documents from anywhere at any time. Having ePayment will reduce transaction costs. Having schedules and documents available online will reduce phone calls, court visits and delays while court staff look up information, search for paper files and make copies. In turn, court staff will be able to focus on processing cases instead of receiving documents and payments. These steps will improve access.
Members of the bar who practice in multiple judicial districts will see a uniform, statewide case numbering system, more standardized business practices among courts, same-look, user-friendly websites for each circuit court and other improvements.
Implementing Oregon eCourt will provide yet more benefits. Law enforcement agencies will have immediate access to protective orders. Judges and court staff will have access to all cases involving an individual or family. They will know if a parent in a custody case is under a protective order, whether a probationer appearing in one county has pending criminal cases in another county, or whether a person paying a traffic ticket owes other court-imposed debts in other cases. Having better information will produce better outcomes.
Implementing a functioning Oregon eCourt system will be increasingly important in order to maintain access to justice as Oregon continues to face declining budget resources. Technology is one of the few ways that we can preserve capacity and services in the face of staff furloughs and layoffs due to budget reductions and still strive to fulfill our mission of providing fair and accessible justice services that protect the rights of individuals, preserve community welfare and inspire public confidence.
This exciting culmination of efforts could not have been accomplished without the dedicated support and involvement of not only Oregon’s state judges and court staff, but the also the input and enthusiasm of members of the bar.
I am looking forward to the day when all Oregonians have the benefits from a functioning eCourt system in Oregon — better access, better information and better outcomes.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Paul De Muniz is chief justice of the Oregon Supreme Court.
© 2011 Paul De Muniz