Hon. Dale Sandstrom, Supreme Court Justice, Chair
Hon. Joel Medd, Judge - Northeast Judicial District
Hon. Frank Racek, Judge - East Central Judicial District
Rita Fischer, Deputy Clerk of Court - McKenzie County
Becky Absey, Clerk of District Court - Grand Forks County
Hon. Daniel Narum, Judge - Southeast Judicial District
Hon. Doug Mattson, Judge - Northwest Judicial District
Donna Wunderlich, District Court Administrator - Unit 3
Hon. William Herauf, Judge - Southwest Judicial District
Penny Miller, Clerk of Supreme Court
Lee Ann Barnhardt, Director of Education & Communication
Sally Holewa, State Court Administrator
Chris Iverson, Trial Court Manager - Unit 2
Ronnie Everett, Tyler Technologies
Larry Zubke, Director of Technology
Cammie Schock, Technology Coordinator
The meeting was called to order by Chair Sandstrom.
Approval of Minutes from October 14, 2011 Meeting
Judge Herauf moved to approve the October 14, 2011 meeting minutes. Judge Racek seconded the motion and the motion carried.
Odyssey User Group Update
Chris Iverson reported the User Group is continuing to meet every other week via GoTo Meetings and are using the SharePoint site as a means to track issues and share information. She said they have groups working on several projects. One project the clerks are working on is cleaning up the fee schedules associated with the event codes on File & Serve to help eliminate errors. She stated at the last meeting they worked on ways to communicate with the bond companies through an automated system. She also said they were discussing AR19 and what that means for our records that are now electronic. She has received a few issues in the past week and is working on getting them posted and submitted to the appropriate working groups.
Justice Sandstrom inquired into how well known the SharePoint site is across the state. Chris stated that currently only the user group is aware of it; however she is working on an email to send out now that we have the permissions and format of the site configured. Justice Sandstrom stated the goal of the SharePoint site is to show the court personnel the status of issues as well as make comments and bring new issues to the group.
Justice Sandstrom further explained the bond and AR19 issues. He stated that the bond companies could get an electronic notice on failure to appear which would cut down the workload in the clerk's office. He said the AR19 discussion is in regards to what the process will be to remove the documents from Odyssey and explained that storage space is an issue. He stated there may be a need moving forward to revisit the document retention times under AR19. Larry stated Tyler is working on a solution to remove the records from the database and keep the disk space lower.
Odyssey Status - Work in Progress - 2011.6.31 Odyssey upgrade
Larry explained the last time we met he had reported we would be taking version 2011.6.15 in November, however we ran into some testing issues. He also stated that Tyler has fixed a number of outstanding issues in patches after 2011.6.15 of which we want to take advantage of. He reported that Odyssey would be upgraded on the evening of December 9th to 2011.6.31. All testing has gone very well with only a few minor issues arising.
Larry commented on the nine projects in the new release. Two involve the Public Search site. He said the first project will allow you to search by business name under the criminal category. The second project improves the ability to search the court calendar. Currently, you have to know the case number, defendant name or judge. With the new project, the user will have the ability to search by selecting a county and a date. He explained another project which allows using active directory authentication for users of the Secure Public Access site. Larry explained another project which will lessen the citation rejects that have Canadian Province license plates. He said the judgment form is another project. We will be using a form very similar to what Minnesota currently uses. Larry continued by explaining a project for VINEs (Victim Information and Notification Everyday system). The project in the new release changes the way we send the records to Appriss for the VINEs system. Larry explained another project involving a Custom Business Rule (CBR) which we already have in place that automatically closes certain cases upon payment. With the new release, the CBR will also automatically close any future hearings on those cases as well. He moved on to say the citation template is being updated to include validation rules that will require certain fields to be filled out. This will reduce the number of traffic citation rejects. The last project deals with monetary award judgments. If there are multiple defendants and one files bankruptcy, it allows the clerks to modify the one defendant and it leaves the other(s) as they were and retains their dollar amount(s).
Larry reported the summary button on the e-signature dialog box is fixed in the new release as well. Becky inquired if the new judgment form will be the recommended statewide form and if it will be available in Session Works. Larry suggested it be the recommended form but would like everyone to review it first. He also stated there shouldn't be an issue with putting it into SessionWorks and he believes Mike has already started on it. Judge Racek suggested when the form is integrated into SessionWorks it may be a good time to see if there are other configuration changes that can be improved upon to make the process more efficient.
New statewide Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system
Larry reported that currently IVR is only working in Cass County. We have contracted with Tyler to buy their statewide system. The Courts division of Tyler had never done this before but other divisions had. Tyler decided to bring that technology into the courts and have done so in the last two months as well as relocated to a different facility which caused a few delays in implementing this functionality. Recently, Tyler notified us of the test phone number and we can listen to the prompts to see if there are any changes we need to make. He stated it will be a while before the system is ready to rollout statewide. Larry explained he wants to do a pilot in Burleigh County prior to rolling out to the entire state. Ronnie stated Tyler may be ready to proceed with the pilot around the January timeframe. Larry stated the solution will be able to be used for all case types.
Becky Absey inquired how long before the IVR system would be rolled out to Grand Forks County and when they should be updating their traffic citations to include the payment options. Larry stated they could put the online web payment option on a label however they should hold off on the IVR information.
Larry reported that we started with 240,000 attorney records to merge. He said that after the initial merge was ran we ended up with 40,000+ records that couldn't be merged. Justice Sandstrom explained that in the previous system the attorneys were not connected to a record. They were entered manually with each case. Larry stated there were records without bar numbers and names that did not make sense along with other issues. These records are being addressed by queries with the assistance of Tyler and some may need to be cleaned up manually.
Ledger card query application
Larry explained we are trying to emulate the UCIS ledger card and improve upon it. He stated Chris Iverson will be identifying a workgroup within the User Group to help with the project. He said it is a work in progress however it is available to use in its limited state.
Other Odyssey updates
Larry said he and Judge Racek have been meeting with the Criminal Justice Information System (CJIS) division on several items. Larry said there are three topics they are discussing. First, was how to allow states attorneys to electronically file from their Justware system directly into Odyssey to eliminate much of the manual process. The second point was how to get dispositional information from Odyssey to Justware. The third was how to improve the restitution information and transfer that information from Justware to Odyssey. Judge Racek stated the nine largest states attorney offices are on Justware and the plan is to expand to 22 in the near future.
Ronnie Everett reported that the testing of the new upgrade seems to be going well. Ronnie also stated the Support Account Manager (SAM) is scheduled to start next month.
Judge Medd reported things are going well with Odyssey. He stated a training session or lessons learned would be beneficial. Justice Sandstrom stated it may be a good topic for a session at the Judicial Conference. Lee Ann stated she and Larry have been discussing training plans for judges as well as clerks. They plan on meeting in the near future to develop a broader based plan. Judge Mattson inquired into having an Odyssey tip of the week being sent out on a weekly basis. Lee Ann stated the clerks had asked for the same thing and it is being looked into as to what the best approach would be. Larry stated early on we did something similar with weekly email tips that were titled "Did You Know".
File and Serve statistics
Larry provided metrics on file and serve users. There are 539 attorneys that have signed up for electronic filing and Secure Public Access. Internally there are 635 state government users signed up for Secure Public Access. Of the trained offices we have 262 attorney law firms and 57 state government offices trained on File and Serve. He said a training session is held at least every other week depending on how many have signed up.
Larry moved on to explain a spreadsheet he created to report the metrics of how e-filing is being used. He first explained the summary tab which provides information from the month of October. The first column shows the number of cases filed manually by clerks, the second column is the number of e-filed cases and the last column shows the number of subsequent filings. He said it was then broken down by the four largest counties to show what types of cases are being e-filed versus filed manually followed by information on subsequent filings for those counties.
Justice Sandstrom stated that what the metrics reflect is that we are receiving mostly subsequent filings through File and Serve. He stated we are not getting a huge percentage of initial filings which would potentially be the greatest area for time saving from the clerks' perspective. Donna Wunderlich stated that the clerks are not receiving as many complaints on the slowness of the system. Larry stated he has been meeting with Tyler every other week and that was one item that was being addressed. Larry stated there are still issues where the system freezes and the documents are delayed in getting to Odyssey from the Review Tool.
Justice Sandstrom inquired into the issue of high volume users such as collection law firms having to file the same series of documents in their initial filings. He stated with each case they have to pick the filing codes every time. Judge Racek stated the Rodenburg firm has expressed frustration with having to pick the filing codes each time. They want to be able to file 10 cases and not have to reset the codes with each case. Ronnie asked if having an option to retain the document codes when they are filing cases with the same document types is what they are seeking. Judge Racek stated that Rodenburg had asked for a template of some sort because they always use the same filing codes for the majority of their cases. Ronnie stated that would be very beneficial for the product itself. He stated he would meet with the File and Serve development team to see if it is on the radar and if not how to get it there. Becky Absey stated they experienced the same issues with law firms.
Judge Racek wanted to distinguish between what are file and serve issues and what are business process issues. He stated the manual filings for Administrative Traffic cases in Cass County are mostly sheriff tickets. He stated there is a grant where they are trying to do electronic filing for all law enforcement agencies however they have had some frustrations. Judge Racek inquired if there was a way to reach out to them due to the significant amount of time savings this would create for the clerks.
Judge Racek stated in the CJIS meetings the focus is on Justware which is the software program that many of the states attorneys are using. He stated what is not being discussed are the criminal traffic offenses. For example a DUI or DUS from the highway patrol does not come in electronically and are entered in by the clerk's office manually. Becky Absey stated their criminal citations go to the states attorney first. They decide if they are going to prosecute and then e-file the case. Judge Racek stated in Cass County they do not go through the states attorney. He said this is a significant subset of the misdemeanor cases that we will not get a solution too.
Judge Racek stated a large number of the child support cases are enforcement actions from other states. He said this may be referred to the User Group to find a business practice solution for these actions. He moved on to discuss city transfers. He stated they should eventually be down to zero with West Fargo and Fargo both being on Odyssey. He then explained that the contract collection cases are the biggest civil impact that could be made. He stated the rest of the case types are principally criminal cases that could be addressed through Justware. He said if we found solutions to the items discussed we could get e-filing use in Cass County from 5% to 85% which would result in tremendous labor savings.
Justice Sandstrom stated that it appears there are attorneys utilizing secure public access who are not complying with the agreement in the sense that they are not electronically filing everything. He inquired on how this should be addressed. Donna stated she has had attorneys ask if they have to file everything electronically in the instance where they may not have access to e-file. Judge Racek explained they are utilizing a report that shows when judgments are entered and sending it out to the attorneys who can then see the documents on secure public access. However, there are attorneys who have not signed up for secure public access because they do not want to be tied to e-filing. Judge Racek stated the attorneys ask for them to mail the judgment, for example, and we should stop this practice and make them rely on the list. Justice Sandstrom stated there should be some sort of follow-up for those not complying with the agreement. Rita Fischer asked if the clerks have a list of attorneys who are signed up so they would be able to monitor the attorney's filing over the counter. Larry stated he could provide a list. Judge Mattson asked if we needed to put notice out forewarning people to comply first. Justice Sandstrom suggested we wouldn't terminate the access until after the third warning.
Justice Sandstrom continued by explaining that the savings long term is getting virtually everyone to e-file. He said we are one of the few states who have not made e-filing mandatory. He stated other states are not giving attorneys the access that we are. He said that going forward we will need to look at whether or not we want to require e-filing. He also stated that other courts are charging for online document access which is something else we could look into.
Judge Racek inquired into the stability of e-filing. Larry said the system should be more reliable than it is and that is why he is meeting with Tyler every other week. Penny Miller stated it is hard to enforce the contract if the system is not stable. Judge Racek asked if it was a possibility to take one county and make it mandatory within so many months. Judge Mattson asked how long it might take for the system to be more stable. Larry stated he should be better able to answer that at the next meeting. Ronnie said at this point it is hard to give a timeframe on the issue but should have more information at the next meeting. Penny Miller asked if September 1st would be a good date for piloting the mandatory e-filing. Larry reported that we will be taking another version before then that may impact the stability and the ease of use. Judge Mattson suggested September 10th as a date for Cass County to pilot and January 4th, 2013 as a date for the entire state to go with mandatory e-filing. Judge Herauf stated we should hold off on making the decision until next meeting when we have more information on the stability of the product. Justice Sandstrom agreed.
Justice Sandstrom stated the Mackoff firm has software that is used all over the country for foreclosure lawyers. He says they start off with single documents but then the software consolidates the documents into one image which is not the way we want it in our system. Justice Sandstrom said it would be worthwhile for Tyler to be working with a vendor like that to establish protocols so their software could talk directly with Odyssey's file and serve system. Ronnie stated he didn't know if anything was being done at this time but agreed it is worth exploring as an option. He will take it back as an action item.
Larry explained the servers had been moved from the downtown location to the basement of the DOT building over a year ago. At the time of the move, the Courts were unaware of DOT's intention to remove the asbestos and renovate several floors of their building. Last July, DOT notified everyone that the Court's computer gear needed to be relocated. ITD at the same time was working with OMB to develop a solution to prevent future power outages like what occurred last January. The new power solution will have separate feeds coming in from different sources on the capitol grounds. ITD then decided to build another computer room in the judicial wing that could house the Court's servers and take advantage of the new power solution. The new room will also have a new air conditioner. Justice Sandstrom inquired if we would be staying there or if we will move back to DOT. Larry stated we would not go back to DOT. Larry said the move is scheduled for the weekend of January 21st.
Update on the Dictaphone replacement
Larry received pricing information from a local Dictaphone vendor and sent an email to all of the judges and unit administrators to see if there was any interest in these devices. He received feedback from 19 interested judges. He also stated if we bought 19 units before the end of the year it would cost $13,300. The group agreed to purchase these units if funding was available.
Judge Mattson moved to approve the purchase the system by the end of the year assuming appropriate funding is available. Judge Medd seconded the motion. Motion carried.
Justice Sandstrom stated money had been budgeted for Lamoure County for audio visual however Judge Narum along with the other judges in the Southeast District stated they would like to move this to New Rockford where Judge Hovey is located.
Judge Herauf moved to approve the transfer of the audio visual install from Lamoure County to Eddy County. Judge Racek seconded the motion. Motion carried.
Donna reported their docket displays are working great since the changes were made with the issue of out of county cases not appearing on the display.
For the Good of the Order
Justice Sandstrom inquired if the committee should continue to meet every two months or revert back to quarterly meetings. Judge Racek stated we should continue every two months until File and Serve is stable. Justice Sandstrom agreed that there are enough outstanding issues to continue meeting that frequently. The group agreed the current time on Fridays continues to work well.
The meeting was adjourned by Justice Sandstrom.