Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Kosciusko Recorded Documents Join Doxpop

Doxpop is pleased to welcome the Kosciusko County Recorder as the newest local government information provider in the Doxpop community.

The Kosciusko County document index extends back to January of 1991 and the Kosciusko County document images extend back to January of 1997.

Kosciusko and the many other counties working with Doxpop help serve the public interest by making information available via the web at no cost to the county. Doxpop provides a range of tools designed to facilitate timely and efficient communication between county agencies and those who use county data.

Doxpop has been providing public access to Indiana court records since 2002 and Indiana recorded documents since 2005. Kosciusko County is the 7th Recorder's office to join the Doxpop network, which currently provides access to over 9.0 million court case records and over 2.8 million recorded documents.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Cost of Free Goes Higher.

A bit of irony: Exactly one week after I posted the accumulated cost of the system that supports "free" access to court information in Indiana, we have received word from a representative of the Association of Indiana Counties that the Court's proposal to the Indiana State Budget Committee this morning includes a request for a 42% increase in the Court Record Automation Fee. (Pull out your calculators and look at my last post to see how much that adds to the cost of "free".)

Oddly, that's not even the most interesting aspect of the proposal. It sounds like they're proposing eliminating elected clerks. I'll try to obtain a copy of the proposal and post it here along with more thorough analysis when it becomes available. Until then, here's a quote with the highlights:

"Today the Supreme Court announced their budget proposal to the State Budget Committee. The proposal included the appointment of clerks by the state, probation fees absorbed by the state, and a $7-10 fee increase for the JTAC Odyssey system."

Update: I have now obtained a partial copy of the budget proposal. Many pages are missing, so I'll wait until I have a clean copy to post it. Here are a few figures:

On page 12, the proposal requests that the automated record keeping fee "be increased by $3 to $10 per case filed, effective July 1, 2009."

The bottom line on the entire budget is that the Court intends to increase its spending overall from an estimated $136,180,673 in FY '08-'09 to $164,133,297 in FY'09-'10. An increase of roughly 28 million dollars. Since they expect less of this to be funded by "dedicated" funds, this will translate to about $32.7 million more out of State "general" (tax) funds.

Friday, November 7, 2008

TANSTAAFL (There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch!)

I noticed a couple of blog posts yesterday that fit together to paint an interesting picture and raise important questions about public policy.

First, on the blog of the Indiana Courts Judicial Automation and Technology Committee, we learned that October represented a record month for the Odyssey public access site, with "an average of 245 different users every day of the month." The post ends with "Access public records 24/7 free of charge."

"Free" is a slippery word when it comes to government services. Most of us understand that somebody always pays and start to wonder who pays and how much when a government agency says "free".

So it's a happy coincidence that on the same day, over at the The Indiana Law Blog, Marcia Oddi posted an overview of court fees that was presented to the Commission on Courts. The charts show a complete breakdown of all fees. The 3-page overview for the Commission presents detailed information on several recently added fees, but skips over the (you guessed it) "Automated Record Keeping Fee" of $7, which funds the JTAC projects, Odyssey being the largest. We'll correct that oversight here.

The important fact I learned from this report is how often the fee is collected. For criminal cases, fees aren't assessed if you are not found guilty, and the occasional scofflaw never gets around to paying. Based on the numbers given to the commission, fees are collected on about 56% of all cases. I won't drag you through all of the math. (Click here if you want details.) The bottom line is that since this fee was initiated in 2001, JTAC has collected 48.2 million dollars from the people who file court cases or pay fines in Indiana. Maybe "free" isn't quite the right word. I'd suggest: "Paid for by the citizens of Indiana." The companies who are the primary consumers of this information should know who to thank for this valuable gift.

This concern about the public subsidizing a relatively small number businesses drove Doxpop to decide on a different business model: If you are one of the many for-profit businesses that use court information, we will provide that service for a reasonable fee. If you are a court, we charge you nothing. If you are not a court, but are another government agency or non-profit, we will cut our fees in half, thus supplying the service below our cost. Most importantly, if you don't need our service, you don't pay a dime.

It's not a free lunch, but we believe it is fair, and perhaps more important to the public, honest in its transparency.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Wayne Reload Complete.

We're Done!

Over the Halloween weekend, fueled late at night by sweets filched from the bags of unsuspecting little goblins, our operations team completed the reload of Wayne County's court data.

This morning, the regular data load from Wayne County was restored and everything is now back normal.

Those of you with alerts and schedule notifications set for Wayne County may have received a couple of batches of emails. Some went out very early this morning (before 8AM.) These were "extras" caused be the resynchronization and may be safely ignored. The second batch went out after 8AM. These are new alerts and notifications that stacked up in the queue while we were resynchronizing. Pay attention to these. They are the events that occurred in the last week that you asked us to notify you about.

If you have any questions about any of this, please give the support folks a call. They'll answer your question or transfer you to me.

Thanks again for bearing with us while we did this important work.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Wayne County Resynch Nearly Done

Whew! Almost there. This weekend we completed the resynchronization of Wayne County to take care of a gap created earlier in the month when they had some problems with the server at the courthouse. This turned out to be a time consuming process as we reloaded 17 years worth of court case information for Wayne County.

We will be turning the data feed back on early Monday morning (11/3) to complete the process and return Wayne County to it's normal status.

Those of you who have calendar notification turned on or a number of alerts set for Wayne County cases may receive a slew of email in the morning as we catch up on the week that it took to complete this process. (What? You don't use calendar notification or alerts? Click here and here to learn about what you've been missing!)

Thanks for your patience while we worked through this reload.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Wayne County Resynchronizing... Still underway.

The weekend has passed and we're still working on resynchronizing Wayne County's Court data. The server on the County side of this process was not able to export all of the data over the weekend, so it is taking longer than expected. 1990 through 2003 have been loaded, so we're roughly 75% of the way through.

We will have to keep the regular update process off for Wayne County Courts until this process is completed in order to maintain the integrity of the data. Thanks for bearing with us while the lengthy process completes! As always, calls are welcome if you need more details.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Resynchronizing Wayne County Courts this weekend.

This weekend we are resynchronizing our database of court information with Wayne County to pick up some missing entries from 10/13 and 10/14. We had planned to do this during the last week, but because Wayne County has 18 years worth of history to reload, we have not been able to process it all during weekday evenings. Therefore, we're punting this task to the weekend.

This will mean a brief period over the weekend where Wayne County Data is not available. Look for another post to notify you when this occurs and a final message when the work is completed.

Updates are currently running for Wayne county, so all entries made from 10/15 forward are on the system and the only problem is a gap on the affected days. (No other counties are affected by this issue.)

Monday, August 25, 2008

Indiana Court Announces Bulk Data Direction

The Indiana Supreme Court, Division of State Court Administration has declared its intentions with regard to bulk access to public information about court cases stored in its own system. The statement of direction is short on details but better than no statement at all, I suppose. Doxpop and others have requested access to the public information and we're eager to get something workable in place.

Today I received a letter from Jim Walker, Director of Trial Court Management. It states that the Division is exploring how to make bulk data available in a uniform manner from the state-sponsored case management system, Odyssey. The cost, format, and frequency of publication is not yet determined. No timetable is given for completion of their analysis or for providing the data.

Doxpop has been corresponding with the Division for over a year-and-a-half with regard to accessing bulk data from the Odyssey system. On January 29, 2007 we sent a formal request to Mary DePrez, Director and Counsel for Trial Court Technology, asking to begin collaboration on the exchange of public information with the Odyssey system. On October 25, 2007 we sent a formal request to Lilia Judson, Executive Director of State Court Administration, for access to Monroe County court information in anticipation of Monroe County switching over to the Odyssey system. Nearly 19 months have passed since our original request for collaboration, and 10 months since our specific request for access to public information from Monroe County.

Although I am encouraged by the statement of direction, I hope that the Division and the Judicial Technology and Automation Committee (JTAC) can move more quickly on completing its analysis and actually providing access than it has in considering the very idea of bulk access to public information.

Access delayed is access denied.

What we learned from Justice Sullivan.

On Friday, Ray and I attended a meeting of the Commission on Courts. Justice Sullivan's comments at that meeting about the JTAC effort to roll out a statewide Case Management System included a couple of interesting assertions. -Both in connection with an astute question from Representative Ryan Dvorak. He inquired about courts who wished to continue using their current Case Management System and whether any standards for compatibility were contemplated. The answer was revealing:

1) In regard to standards, Sullivan asserted that the State Court had tried that path and decided that because technology advances so quickly, that approach was unworkable.

This highlights a fundamental difference in our approaches. At Doxpop, we believe that the best way to keep pace with technology is to create functional standards to promote the consistent administration of justice and then allow the free market to respond with the best technology has to offer.

2) In regard to the systems currently existing, I understood from Justice Sullivan that the strategy is to roll out the Odyssey CMS to any county that will accept it freely and then ask the public policy question of whether local courts should be allowed to spend public funds on a system that is "technically inferior".

This makes the uncertain assumption that the State's system is superior technology. County Courts have been discouraged from replacing or upgrading their systems since 1995 and this has resulted in outdated technology in many counties. However, the courts that have decided to move forward on their own currently enjoy features such as document management, integrated probation modules, e-filing and on-line access to a statewide repository of public court records- features that are certainly on par with or exceed the features of system installed in Monroe County.

A modest proposal: Let's all work together to serve the people of Indiana. The free market has a way of keeping pace with technology despite the best efforts of government.

What we learned in Bloomington.

Last week, Ray and I traveled to Bloomington to learn for ourselves how Odyssey is working out. We came back with a clear understanding that although it may have potential, the task of making Odyssey ready for roll out to other Indiana courts is not done. From every person we talked to, we learned that the public access falls short of the standards Doxpop previously established in Monroe County, and from one, we learned that the Clerk's office works harder to maintain records in this CMS than with the previous system.

Doxpop stands ready to assist in one aspect of this task... On January 27, 2007, Doxpop requested access to a regular data feed from the Odyssey system per our existing authorization from the Courts of Monroe County. We were quickly told that in the new environment, the County Courts no longer control who has access to their data. Therefore, we had to submit a request to the Division of State Court Administration instead. This request was submitted on October 25, 2007. We're still waiting.

JTAC has excellent goals. Doxpop stands ready to help. Tomorrow, I'll talk a little more about the goals of JTAC and how companies in Indiana can help them achieve their goals.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

One-half gives us two reasons to celebrate. Doxpop welcomes Shelby County.

This is the post of twos: Two years of anticipation, two offices in one county, two reasons to celebrate, and one-half of the state...

Last week we had the pleasure of welcoming Shelby County as Doxpop's 46th county court partner. Of course we're always excited about working with a new county, but this addition is doubly sweet because it represents half the State.

A big "Thank You" goes out to Clerk Carol Stohry and Judges Charles O'Conner, Jack Tandy and Russell Sanders. They were an easy group to work with and we are honored that they chose to make their information available through Doxpop.

And just to make sure we don't forget our old friends, I should note that the Shelby County Recorder, Mary Jo Phares, has made Recorded Documents available on Doxpop since March of 2007.

Kudos to the Wayne County Recorder. Fifteen Years!

Congratulations to the Wayne County Recorder's office on the completion of their recent back-scanning effort. Debby Resh and her staff now have a full 15 years worth of indexed document images on their system.

Of course the entire 15-year history is available on Doxpop as well, so we're basking in their reflected glory! <big grin>

Monday, August 11, 2008

Shelby County Courts Join Doxpop

Doxpop is pleased to announce the addition of the Shelby County Courts as the newest local government information providers in the Doxpop community. With the addition of Shelby County, Doxpop now provides access to Court information in half of all Indiana Counties.

The court information available for Shelby County includes all cases filed beginning in July of 1995 and any older cases still open at that time.

Shelby and the many other counties working with Doxpop help serve the public interest by making information available via the web at no cost to the county. Doxpop provides a range of tools designed to facilitate timely and efficient communication between county agencies and those who use county data.

Doxpop has been providing public access to Indiana court records since 2002 and Indiana recorded documents since 2005. Shelby County is the 46th court system to join the Doxpop network, which currently provides access to over 8.7 million court case records and over 2.5 million recorded documents.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Doxpop and Partners complete successful test of e-filing in White County

July 23, 2008, Richmond, IN -- Doxpop LLC, CSI, and Proslink Inc. in cooperation with Judge Robert
Mrzlack, Clerk Bruce Lambert and Prosecutor Robert Guy of White County, Indiana have successfully
tested the first phase of a criminal electronic filing (e-filing) system that eliminates hours of redundant
data entry and speeds processing of cases.

Read the Press Release

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Allen Civil Courts Join Doxpop

Doxpop is pleased to announce the Allen County Civil Court system as the newest local government information provider in the Doxpop community. Only civil records are currently available for Allen County. (Criminal records coming soon!)

The court information available for Allen County includes all civil cases filed beginning in October of 1995 and any older cases still open at that time.

Tax Warrants are filed under the MI case type and begin in November of 1995. Foreign Judgments (in and out of state) are also filed under the MI case type.

Clerk's records are complete for all civil cases. However, the Superior Courts of Allen County do not enter all actions on the electronic CCS. For a more detailed explanation of what information is available for each of the civil case types in the Allen County courts, consult this PDF chart.

Allen and the many other counties working with Doxpop help serve the public interest by making information available via the web at no cost to the county. Doxpop provides a range of tools designed to facilitate timely and efficient communication between county agencies and those who use county data.

Doxpop has been providing public access to Indiana court records since 2002 and Indiana recorded documents since 2005. Allen County is the 45th court system to join the Doxpop network, which currently provides access to over 8.4 million court case records and over 2.4 million recorded documents.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Franklin Circuit Court Joins Doxpop

Doxpop is pleased to welcome Franklin Circuit Court as the newest local government information provider in the Doxpop community.

The court information available for Franklin County includes all cases filed beginning in April of 2000 and any older cases still open at that time.

In addition to court information, Doxpop also provides on-line access to Recorded Documents for Franklin County. The Franklin County Recorder started working with Doxpop in August of 2006.

Franklin, and the many other counties working with Doxpop, help serve the public interest by making information available via the web at no cost to the county. Doxpop provides a range of tools designed to facilitate timely and efficient communication between county agencies and those who use county data.

Doxpop has been providing public access to Indiana court records since 2002 and Indiana recorded documents since 2005. Franklin County is the 45th court system to join the Doxpop network, which currently provides access to over 7.4 million court case records and over 2.4 million recorded documents.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Monroe County information removed from Doxpop

Monroe County and Doxpop have enjoyed a close partnership in providing public access to court records over the past five years. With the installation of the new state-provided case management system in Monroe County and a new regulatory process, Doxpop is no longer able to provide access to public information for the Monroe Courts.

On December 17, 2007, the Monroe Courts ceased sending updates to case information. Effective February 15, 2008, all historical case information will be removed from Doxpop.

Access to other Doxpop partner courts is unaffected by this change.

To learn more, read our letter to Doxpop users or see Status of Monroe County Court Information.

Important Note: This county's data was restored to the Doxpop system in November, 2011. Read the details here: http://blog.doxpop.com/2011/11/long-odyssey-doxpops-4-year-quest-pays.html