As Indiana continues the push to get courts in all counties on the same case management software, Lake County should eagerly embrace this idea.
It's not that Lake County's case management software is a lemon. It's not. In fact, the electronic case filing component is a nifty widget that might be worth selling to the state for the case management system being used elsewhere.
What the Lake County software lacks, however, is a smooth connection with other counties. The Odyssey software promoted by the Judicial Technology and Automation Committee provides that, letting judges and others see quickly whether defendants have cases in other counties, not just other courts within the same county.
The JTAC push to modernize court operations is voluntary, not mandatory, but the benefits make participation, at least in most counties, an easy sell.
The Times editorial board recently discussed this with Judge Paul Mathias of the Indiana Court of Appeals.
Installation of the software and, if necessary the hardware as well, to operate the Odyssey system is done at the state's cost, not the county's.
"I am told that Lake County pays an aggregate, annual licensing fee approaching $600,000," Mathias sold in a follow-up email to the editorial board.
With the proviso that Lake County might have to pay a one-time cost to convert current records to the new system, "there's a lot of room for savings when the current annual fee is approaching $600,000, and Odyssey software, installation, maintenance and support come without cost to the county," Mathias said.
Even better, the state offers free public access to information in the Odyssey system at mycase.in.gov.
Here's a good opportunity for Lake County to save money. Try to persuade the state to convert Lake County's courts to the state's Odyssey system. Ask to be put on the waiting list.
This is part of a larger push to modernize the state's court system.
Finish moving the state's courts into the 21st century so court officials and others can quickly see whether a defendant has similar charges in other counties that might affect decisions on local charges.