Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Welcome to the Decatur County Recorder!

Today we welcome Denise Ziegler and her fine staff from the Decatur County Recorder's office to the family of Recorders who have made their information available on-line without using any public funding.  Both the index and images for Recorded Documents filed after 1993 are available through this service.

In addition, the Doxpop Property Watch service is now available for Decatur County at no cost. This service allows landowners to set a "watch" for any documents filed referencing their property, thus providing an early warning and deterrent for fraudulent filings that might be the first steps for identity theft.

The Recorder's office joins the Decatur County Clerk in making public records available via Doxpop. Court records from Decatur County are available for cases filed after 1997 are available.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

December court updates released for Odyssey counties, Welcome to the Rush County Recorder!

The December update to court data sent from the State's Odyssey case management system has been released. During this release cycle, we focused on releasing the information quickly rather than adding new enhancements. Throughout the remainder of this month, we'll be working on enhancements that will be released with the January update.

Also of note: Today we welcome the Rush County Recorder to the Doxpop network! Rush County is the 20th Indiana Recorder to make documents available on-line via Doxpop, with an index reaching back to August 1997 and images available for documents recorded beginning in December 1998.

Thanks to Sally Neidenthal and her staff for becoming our 20th Recorded Documents partner!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Welcome Rush County Recorder!

The Rush County Recorder is pleased to announce two new services for providing access to Rush County's Recorded documents through the web.

The index to documents filed in August 1997 or later and images of documents filed in December 1998 or later are now available on-line at http://www.doxpop.com. Basic information about the documents is available at no cost. Detailed information and documents images are available as a fee-based service.

In addition, The Recorder's Office now offers a free property watch service to our community. Any person may sign up at http://watch.doxpop.com to set a watch on his or her property and name. Participants are notified via email any time a document is filed that references the watched property or name.

Both of these services have been provided without any use of public funding (no use of tax money.) The access provided by these services is in addition to the public access already provided at the courthouse.

For additional information, contact Sally Niedenthal at the Recorder's Office, (765) 932-2388, or Nick Fankhauser at Doxpop, LLC; (765) 373-9245; nickf@doxpop.com.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

New courts added to the data flowing from Odyssey

The November update to court data sent from the State's Odyssey case management system includes several new courts. However, most are for counties already on-line, and are provided to fill in the gaps because of the more complete coverage of civil case types detailed in our last blog post.

The additional courts added in existing counties are:

  • Allen County Superior Court 2 (Current probate cases.)
  • Allen County Superior Court 3 (Current probate cases.)
  • Allen County Superior Court 9 (Current probate cases.)
  • Madison County Court (Historical cases only- this court is no longer active.)
In addition, Tipton City Court has been added and is completely new to us this month. The Tipton City Court primarily handles citations with a few misdemeanor cases each week.

Updates and improvements to data in 35 counties.

On November 26th, Doxpop updated the court information for counties and municipalities using the State's Odyssey case management system, replacing information current on October 1st with information current on November 1st. (See this previous post for a list of affected counties.)

Doxpop has been working with programmers at the State to get more complete and current information for these counties. Although the process of getting better data is slower than expected, we're making progress and hope to release the December 1 update on a faster schedule and with even better information. In the meantime, you'll be happy to know that the recently posted information is significantly more complete.

Here are the improvements you'll find in the most recent release:

  • Better address information. In the October release, City, State and  Zip Code information was missing from about 60% of the records. We are now confident that if the court has this information for a party, Doxpop has it also.
  • Judge information. The Odyssey system associates judges with events rather than cases. This means that no judge is assigned at the case level, but with the November release, any minute for an event involving a judge will name the judge as the "Judicial Officer" at the end of that minute entry.
  • Better party information. In the October release, only the plaintiff and defendant were shown for each case. Many other parties may be involved in other case roles, and with the November release, all parties are now shown.
  • All public case types are now available. The October release was missing Family cases (DR & RS), Probate cases (EM, ES, EU, GU, TR and CBCW) and public Miscellaneous Criminal cases (MC.) The November update includes all of these case types, and we now believe that all public cases are fully represented in the Doxpop database for these counties. (Note that *some* miscellaneous criminal cases are individually excluded because they are designated as confidential by the courts, even though the case type is generally not excluded.)
  • Additional Courts. In the coming days, we'll be announcing the addition of information for several new courts. Details on the new courts will be in our next blog post.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

What New Courts Have Joined Doxpop?

Here is a list of all Courts that have joined the Doxpop network since adding Odyssey Court Case information:
  • Alexandria City Court (Madison County)
  • Allen County Criminal, Citation and Probate (Now current!)
  • Benton County Courts
  • Bicknell City Court (Knox County)
  • Blackford County Courts
  • Bunker Hill Town Court (Miami County)
  • Carmel City Court (Hamilton County)
  • Carroll County Courts
  • Cass County Courts
  • Clark County Courts
  • DeKalb County Courts
  • Floyd County Courts
  • Gas City City Court (Grant County)
  • Greene County Courts
  • Greenwood City Court (Johnson County)
  • Hamilton County Courts (Now current!)
  • Harrison County Courts
  • Hendricks County Courts
  • Huntington County Courts
  • Jasper County Courts
  • Knox City Court (Starke County)
  • Madison County Courts
  • Marion County Infractions and Ordinance Violations only
  • Marion County - Center Township
  • Marion County - Franklin Township
  • Marion County - Lawrence Township
  • Marion County - Perry Township
  • Marion County - Warren Township
  • Marion County - Washington Township
  • Marion County - Wayne Township
  • Monroe County Courts
  • New Haven City Court (Allen County)
  • Owen County Courts
  • Parke County Courts
  • Plainfield Town Court (Hendricks County)
  • Posey County Courts
  • Roanoke Town Court (Huntington County)
  • Rush County Courts
  • Scott County Courts
  • Shelby County (Now current!)
  • St. Joseph Infractions and Ordinance Violations only
  • Steuben County Courts
  • Terre Haute City Court (Vigo County)
  • Tipton County Courts
  • Union County Circuit Court
  • Warren County Courts
  • Washington County Courts

The Long Odyssey: Doxpop's 4-year Quest Pays Off

Doxpop is now posting court cases from counties using the Odyssey case management system online. This means that several courts previously removed from Doxpop will be rejoining us and many new counties will add their court records. This is good news for our customers, our company, and—we believe—for the general public.

A significant development in Indiana court case public access has made this extension of public court case access possible, more than four years after the first court adopted the Odyssey case management system. On September 13, 2011, the Indiana Supreme Court issued an “Order Concerning the Bulk Distribution of and Remote Access to Court Records in the Electronic Form”, requiring that approved organizations like Doxpop be allowed to receive delivery of the cases. 

Back in October of 2007, anticipating the conversion of the Monroe County courts to Odyssey, Doxpop filed an initial request for access to the public information (in the case of Monroe County this would have allowed us to continue to post their courts’ records on Doxpop, which we had done since 2002). Each year since then we have renewed our request, but have never received access to this public information until a couple of weeks ago. “Better late than never”, we suppose, but four years was a long time to await this proper decision.

Doxpop receives no public money to support our service. Rather, it is supported entirely by service fees from voluntary subscribers. Because of this, we are always looking at the bottom line and working to keep our costs down. The bottom line on this particular data set is that it is very expensive, because in an unusual policy decision, a government agency has decided on its own to charge more than the cost of reproduction for public information.

During the past four years, the Administrative Division of the Indiana State Court has maintained a firm policy that private businesses like ours may not make a profit when providing the service of delivering court data in bulk. In an ironic twist, the Administrative Division has now decided that although private sector firms may not make a profit on this service, the Administrative Division may charge whatever they deem to be the "fair market value" of the information.

We are scratching our heads over how "market value" can be reasonably determined in the absence of a free market. Even more interesting is the notion of a government agency deciding to compete in a market that they also regulate. This is certainly not unheard of- In fact it has echoes in the ongoing national debate over health care. However, it is an unusual step for an agency to take without the sanction of a representative body such as the legislature. We hope that, as the branch of Indiana government charged with making fiscal policy, the Indiana legislature might provide the Administrative Division with some guidance on this policy in the future.

Regardless of the concerns we have with the policies lurking in the background, the Doxpop team is delighted to be able to enhance and extend our database by adding these courts, making Doxpop even more valuable to you. Keep watching for updates on Odyssey data!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Information added to Vanderburgh Government Links

Thanks to Tami Johnson at Rudolph, Fine, Porter & Johnnson for providing 6 new resource links in the Vanderburgh section of our Indiana local information directory! This directory is slowly but surely becoming a comprehensive resource with the help of our informed friends.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Indiana Judiciary Goes into Business

The Indiana Supreme Court issued an Order Concerning the Bulk Distribution of and Remote Access To Court Records in the Electronic Form on 9/13/2011. This is significant for two reasons: it permits bulk access to information stored in the state judiciary's case management system; and, it allows the judiciary to charge a fee greater than the cost of reproduction for bulk and remote access to information.
Allowing bulk access to the information stored in the judiciary's case management system (Odyssey) is a good thing. This will allow Doxpop and more than a dozen other organizations to spread the news about what is happening or has happened in the courts. This increases the transparency of our court system and allows the will of the courts to be more widely known.
The Order and its contemporaneous Order Amending Indiana Administrative Rules allow the judiciary to set its own rates and charge for bulk and remote access to court case information in electronic form. On October 1, 2011, the judiciary will be entering the information services business, effectively creating a profit center within the judiciary. This is a concern because it means that the judiciary is no longer devoted exclusively to the even-handed administration of justice; it also has a business to run.
Doxpop submitted its first formal request for access to this public information on October 25, 2007 and has renewed that request annually. I am pleased that the Court has worked through the policy and technical issues, but a bit disappointed that it took nearly 4 years.
During the past four years, the judiciary has maintained a firm policy that self-funded businesses may not charge more than the cost of reproduction when providing the service of delivering court data in bulk. The decision that a publicly funded agency may now make a profit for providing the same service represents an abrupt change to say the least. Lawmakers might well ask whether this change in the rules will apply evenly to all service providers, public and private. I hope that the same policy applies; it will bolster the reputation of the judiciary as a bastion of fair and consistent administration of rules.
This is my fervent hope: that the judiciary will exercise good judgment in avoiding conflicts of interest between operating its own information services business and in regulating other businesses with which it sometimes competes.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Welcome Sullivan County--And a few other county announcements

We have a few county announcements to share with you today.

First of all, we are very excited to announce the addition of the Sullivan County Recorder to the Doxpop database. Information on mortgages, deeds, liens, and other documents filed from July 2004 and forward can be now be researched on Doxpop. A very special thanks goes out to Sullivan Recorder Shelly Parris and her staff for making this effort possible.

We also have a few announcements regarding the removal of records of two Doxpop county providers.

Doxpop is removing Allen Criminal cases from our system due to Allen County's recent conversion to the Odyssey Case Management system. We have maintained this historical data without updates since February 2011 to ease the transition as Allen migrates to their new case management system. To access current criminal case information for Allen County, go to http://mycase.in.gov. Non-probate civil cases for Allen County continue to be available and regularly updated on Doxpop.

We also must announce the removal of records from the Madison County Recorder's office. Madison County is currently migrating to Fidlar's "Laredo" system. On October 1st, 2011 the transition will be complete, and all recorded documents for Madison County will be available through Laredo and cease to be available via Doxpop. On October 1st, Madison County's records will become available on a pay-as-you-go basis via Tapestry (http://tapestry.fidlar.com) for lower-volume users.

We have enjoyed our partnership with Allen and Madison counties and wish them nothing but the best in their future endeavors.

Stay tuned for more announcements as we continue to add more county information providers to our services!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Jennings County Recorder Joins Doxpop

Doxpop would like to welcome the recorder's office of Jennings County, Indiana as Doxpop's newest information provider. Doxpop would like to offer a very special thank you to Lisa Jines and her staff for helping make Doxpop available in her county.

Jennings County records are available beginning in November of 1991. Scanned images of documents such as mortgages, deeds, and liens are also available for purchase beginning in November of 1991 as well.

Jennings County is the 18th county to join the Doxpop network.

Stay tuned for more announcements in the very near future. Make sure to visit http://www.doxpop.com to start using our service today!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Welcome to Doxpop Fine Payment Perry County!

Doxpop is excited to announce our latest addition to the Fine Payment network, Perry County, Indiana. Doxpop Fine Payment offers the convenience of paying Perry county and other Indiana county citations on-line with a credit or debit card. Check out our website today at http://payment.doxpop.com to try it out.

The Perry County courts are located in Tell City, Indiana. Other surrounding towns include Cannelton and Troy, Indiana. Major highways running through Perry County include Interstate 64 and State Roads 37, 62, 66, 70, 145, and 545.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Texting while driving: It's already being enforced.

Indiana's new texting while driving law has met with some skepticism about how well enforcement will work, but it appears that law enforcement officers are on the job already. We found two cases in the Doxpop database that were filed during the first week that the new law was in effect- The first in Clinton County, and a second in our hometown of Richmond in Wayne County.

Both counties use the Doxpop On-line Fine Payment system, so the defendants can opt to pay their fines on-line immediately.

We join our legislators in hoping that they choose to pay these fines at home while sitting at a stationary computer!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

What Doxpop gives back to Indiana and the local communities we serve.

Doxpop is grateful to the many counties thatallow us to provide public access to their information. Local court and recorder information is valuable, and it has always been important to us to provide good value to each community in return for the trust they place in us.

Here's a quick introduction to how we give something back to our state and the communities we serve:

First, it is important to note that we take no money from local government for making public information available via the web. For each county we work with, Doxpop bore the substantial cost of developing the software used to transmit public information to our system. No tax funding was used, no public grant money used, and no additional court filing fees were levied to fund Doxpop. The entire investment was funded solely by the owners of Doxpop in order to provide an immediate, no-risk solution for each county. Contrast this to the hundreds of thousands charged to implement public access systems in other counties, and you'll understand why Doxpop has long been a great solution for local government.

In addition to bearing all development costs, Doxpop initially paid 5% of our gross court-related revenues back to each county we worked with. We made these payments for our first four years, and would still be making these payments to all counties today if it weren't for the intervention of the Indiana Division of State Court Administration. In 2006, the Division added an administrative rule that had the effect of requiring that Doxpop must, at its own expense, undergo an extensive audit if we continued to provide payments to counties based on a percentage of our revenue. The minimum annual cost for such an audit would run to over $35,000.00. We don't make enough money to bear that additional regulatory expense.

In response to this rule change, Doxpop offered each county two options: (1) begin receiving a flat fee so that no audit is required; or (2) receive free services from Doxpop with a value exceeding the previous 5% payments. Most counties opted to go with the free services, and as a result, Prosecutors, Public Defenders and County Law Enforcement were added to the list of county offices receiving free access to information from all counties. Judges, Clerks, Probation, Community Corrections and CASA/GAL volunteers had always had free accounts.

In recent years, responding to funding cuts in many state offices, Doxpop has also begun providing free accounts for many state offices who have asked us to help them. Among these are the Indiana Division of State Court Administration (bit of irony there...), the Indiana Department of Child Services and the Indiana State Police.

Doxpop also provides very basic access to all web users at no cost, including the ability to find any public case, and a free court calendar, so people can confirm when they need to be in court.

In total, roughly half of Doxpop's services are provided at no cost to the over 5,000 users in state and county government offices who pay nothing for our services. Contrast this to systems claiming to offer free access to government users when the supporting systems are actually paid for using public funding. Which definition of "free" feels more honest to you?

On the other side of the coin, we must make a living, so someone has to pay. In our case, it's the commercial users of Doxpop. Instead of being funded by taxes, we're funded by the fees we charge commercial users such as attorneys and background check firms--fair fees that they pay voluntarily.

So that's the basic policy choice that many counties made when they chose Doxpop: If most consumers of the information are commercial users, there's no need to charge all taxpayers for information services that effectively subsidize a small group of businesses. On the other side, by helping us keep our costs low, local government ensures that businesses using Doxpop will get a good deal as well. The roughly 5,000 happy paying users of our system make it evident that this arrangement suits them also.

Giving back to the communities we work with and the state we live in has always been an important part of how we operate. We're owned and operated entirely by folks who are proud to live and work in Indiana. When you call Doxpop, you'll be talking to a Hoosier (please excuse the accent!)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Martin County, Indiana Joins Doxpop Fine Payment

Doxpop is pleased to announce that Martin County is now using Doxpop's On-line Fine Payment service.

The Martin County Courts in Shoals, Indiana handle citations for drivers in Shoals and other surrounding areas such as Loogootee and Crane.  Main highways located in Martin County include US Routes 50, 150, and 231, as well as State Roads 450 and 550. Doxpop Fine Payment allows people with traffic citations in Martin County the convenience of paying their tickets on-line without the need of paying a special trip to the county courthouse or mailing in a money order.

Take a look at our Fine Payment website and try it out today. We can be found at http://payment.doxpop.com.


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Union County Office Directory Link Added

We have just added a link for directory of government offices in Union County to our Finding Indiana County Info Online page.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Welcome Dearborn County Recorder!

The Dearborn County Recorder is pleased to announce two new services for providing access to Dearborn County's Recorded documents through the web.

The index and images to documents filed in January 2000 or later are now available on-line at http://www.doxpop.com. Basic information about the documents is available at no cost. Detailed information and documents images are available as a fee-based service.

In addition, The Recorder's Office now offers a free property watch service to our community. Any person may sign up at http://watch.doxpop.com to set a watch on his or her property and name. Participants are notified via email any time a document is filed that references the watched property or name.

Both of these services have been provided without any use of public funding (no use of tax money.) The access provided by these services is in addition to the public access already provided at the courthouse.

For additional information, contact Glenn Wright at the Recorder's Office, (812) 537-8837, or Nick Fankhauser at Doxpop, LLC; (765) 373-9245; nickf@doxpop.com.

Friday, June 24, 2011

White and Lawrence Counties Join Doxpop Fine Payment

White County and Lawrence County are the two latest counties to join Doxpop Fine Payment. Drivers in the vicinity of Monticello, IN and Bedford, IN can now pay their traffic fines quickly and easily on-line at http://payment.doxpop.com.

Even more counties are expected to jump on board in the very near future, so stay tuned for more information!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Welcome Montgomery County, and a Doxpop Fine Payment Milestone!

Doxpop is excited to welcome Montgomery County as the 18th County to join Doxpop Fine Payment. Drivers who receive traffic citations along Interstate 74 in Crawfordsville and other Montgomery County cities can now pay their fines quickly and easily on-line.

Doxpop first announced the Fine Payment service one year ago in June of 2010. More than $500,000 of traffic fines have been paid online since its inception. Thank you to all of our customers for helping us reach this milestone.

Stay tuned for more county additions and new Doxpop features in the very near future!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Martin County and Hancock County office directories added.

We have just added links to on-line directories to county offices for Hancock and Martin Counties to our Finding Indiana County Info Online page.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

New FinePay Counties!

Doxpop is excited to announce the addition of several new counties to Doxpop's Fine Payment Service. Daviess, Fountain, Pike, and Wells Counties have all been added to Doxpop Fine Payment within the past few weeks. Drivers who receive traffic citations in these respective counties can now pay their fees quickly and easily on-line.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Shelby Courts cease sending updates to Doxpop.

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

Shelby County has migrated to the Odyssey case management system that is provided by the Indiana State Court Administration. Although Doxpop has permission to receive information from all courts in Indiana, we have been advised by the Indiana Division of State Court Administration that Courts using the Odyssey system are not capable of providing bulk exports to those requesting access to public records. Therefore, Doxpop will not be updating case information for Shelby Courts after 4/25/2011.

To ease the transition, Doxpop will maintain the Shelby Court records on our system in their current form until the end of 2011, but we have posted an advisement to seek more current information at the top of each case record.

Doxpop continues to seek access to public records in bulk from counties using the Odyssey system, and hope that everyone will join us in asking that the State Court Administration enhance their recently procured system to provide services such as bulk access that have been available on older systems for more than a decade. In the meantime, you can access case information and very basic services for the Shelby Courts at http://mycase.in.gov.

Access to real-time index and image information from the Shelby County Recorder's office continues to be available and is unaffected by this change.

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

Directory of Indiana local government information now available.

Last week on this blog, we introduced a comprehensive and growing set of links to local government information in Indiana. You can find it by following the link in the right sidebar of this blog.

This is a community effort- We invite all of you to pass along any links we've missed or let us know of corrections.

Thanks to Tina Gunter in the title division at Doyle Legal, who jumped in right away to add several important links to information from Marion County!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Edgewood Town Court Records Now Available on Doxpop

Doxpop is pleased to announce the addition of Edgewood Town Courts as the newest local government information provider in the Doxpop community. Edgewood records can be found by searching for court records in Madison County, Indiana. Edgewood Town Court joins two other municipal courts from Madison County--Anderson and Pendleton.

Doxpop would like to offer a very special thank you to Debbie in the court office for her patient work with our technical staff. Edgewood records beginning in 1995 are available via Doxpop. Stay tuned for more county data sources expected to join our service in the near future.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A Few Noteworthy Mentions

We've had a few noteworthy news announcements this past week:

First things first, the Randolph County Recorder has recently joined the Doxpop network. Randolph County has also joined Doxpop's free Property Watch service designed to help eliminate property fraud. Special thanks to Randolph County Recorder Debbie Preston for her diligent efforts in making Doxpop available in her county.

Next, we are excited to announce that Henry County is the latest county to provide Doxpop's Fine Payment service. A fun fact, if you happen to receive a traffic citation anywhere between Indianapolis and the Ohio border on Interstate 70, you should be able to pay your ticket using Doxpop Fine Payment.

Finally, we have just released our latest newsletter issue where we discuss some exciting new features available to both our paying customers and to non-subscribers of Doxpop. Be sure to take a look!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Please join us in opposing SB301

On March 24th, Doxpop participated in a House Committee hearing for Senate Bill 301, which proposes to increase the automated record-keeping fee portion of case filing fees charged after July 2011 by 50% (from $4 to $6.)

We oppose this bill for several reasons:
  • SB301 Increases the burden on citizens while funding a government project that competes with the private sector in Indiana.
  • The "statewide" case management system that this fee supports brings fewer features to local courts at a higher cost than existing systems already in use in the majority of Indiana Counties.
  • The independent record-keeping system of the local clerks is an important check and balance in the justice system, providing a separately maintained record for situations where an appeal or other check on a trial court is necessary. JTAC calls removing the check of local independence efficiency. We call it bad government.
  • The state court administration has consistently denied access to public court records in bulk from the state-sponsored system, even when the local courts join us in endorsing the request. This system is reducing public access to court records and subverting local government autonomy.
SB301 could be fixed if it were amended to allow local courts and clerks to use the proposed funding for the case management system of their choice as an alternative to the state-funded monopoly. If such an option were added, the fee could also be reasonably cut in half, as the alternatives are significantly cheaper.

Such an amendment would also guarantee continued funding for those counties already using the state-funded system. We're not opposed to having this system available as an option- We only oppose the State of Indiana allocating locally collected fees in a manner that forces counties to use a single vendor from out-of-state instead of freely choosing their own system from the open market.

If you'd like to join us by voicing your opinion on this bill, please contact your state legislator.

Bluffton City Court Joins Doxpop Fine Payment

Doxpop is pleased to welcome the Bluffton City Court to our on-line Fine Payment service. The Bluffton Court handles traffic citations for all of Wells County. Wells County is home to cities such as Bluffton, Markel, and Ossian, as well as Oubache State Park. Drivers who have gotten a citation in Wells County while driving through Interstate 69, Indiana State Road 3, or Indiana State Road 1, can go to payment.doxpop.com to quickly and conveniently pay their fines and fees.

Keep your eyes peeled for more Indiana counties to be added to Doxpop Fine Payment in the very near future.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Check Out This Video: Introduction to Doxpop

Have you seen our Introduction to Doxpop video? Make sure to share it with your friends!

Blackford County Recorder Joins Doxpop

Blackford County has just become the 15th Indiana County to allow recorded document information available on the web via Doxpop. Blackford County is also a part of the Doxpop's Free Property Watch Service designed to help eliminate property fraud. These services are provided on the web without the need of taxpayer money.

Local property owners who wish to receive email notification when documents referencing their property are filed by the Recorder may go to watch.doxpop.com to register. It costs nothing to use this free service.

Access to detailed index and image information is provided at www.doxpop.com as a subscription service designed to serve businesses. Recorded document index information dates back to January of 1992. Scanned images of recorded documents such as mortgages, deeds, and liens are available beginning in October of 2000. Doxpop now provides index information for 5.7 million Indiana recorded documents.

Doxpop would like to offer a very special thank you to Recorder Derinda Shady and First Deputy Patricia Mulholland for their long and patient efforts in bringing Doxpop to their county.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Clinton County Added to Doxpop Fine Payment

We are happy to welcome Clinton County to the Doxpop Fine Payment System. Now motorists who receive a citation while driving through Clinton County on I-65 can pay their fines on-line when they return home. Folks who make their home in Clinton County can save themselves a trip to the courthouse in Frankfort. Doxpop Fine Payment is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Thanks to County Clerk Sherri Crews and her excellent staff for working with us to bring this service to Clinton County.

The Doxpop on-line Fine & Fee Payment Service is now available in 11 Indiana counties, with more being added every week. The service is offered at no cost to participating counties, and is designed to reduce the workload on clerk and court staff while making the unpleasant process of paying a fine a little more palatable to the payers.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Madison and Allen County Information Removed From Doxpop

Two counties and a municipal court that formerly worked with Doxpop have recently moved to the Odyssey system run by the Indiana State Judiciary rather than the local court system.

Because the State Court Administration has refused our request to provide regular access to public court information, we will be removing these courts from our system the week of January 31, 2011. They include the courts of Madison and Allen Counties and the Gas City municipal court.

If you would like to see these courts return to Doxpop, please let your state legislators know of the problems we are encountering in our mission to provide access to public information for professional users. Your voice is important.

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

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Doxpop Opposes Increase in Court Automated Record Keeping Fee


I appeared before the Indiana Senate Judiciary Committee to speak in opposition to Senate Bill 301 which proposes an increase in the Automated Record Keeping fee to $10 for all civil, criminal, infraction, and ordinance violation cases. The fee is currently $7 and sunsets to $4 in July of this year.

Here is an approximate transcript of my testimony before the committee and my best recollection of the question and response that followed.

January 26, 2011

Re: Judiciary Committee Hearing - SB301

Chairman Bray and members of the Judiciary Committee:

Thank you for this opportunity to speak before the Committee. My name is Ray Ontko, President of Doxpop, LLC, located in Richmond, Indiana. Doxpop partners with local governments to provide access to information and services over the Internet.

Doxpop currently partners with 155 courts in 51 counties to provide web-based access to court case information to the general public and our subscribers. We also provide on-line ticket payment in 10 counties, and access to recorded documents in 14 counties. We have also developed services that permit access to non-confidential case documents (filings, pleadings, motions, judgments, orders, decrees, etc.) and that enable electronic filing of criminal and citations cases; these await approval by the Division of State Court Administration. All of this innovation and development has been accomplished without charging any fees to local government. Our work is supported through modest enhanced access fees charged to attorney subscribers and other users. We employ 10 people.

I am speaking in opposition to both the temporary and long-term increase in the Automated Record Keeping (ARK) fee contemplated by SB301. Increasing the fee is unnecessary and costly to our citizens. Furthermore, the allocation of such generous funding to JTAC actually stifles technical progress in our court system, and hinders access to public information. Let me repeat that: the fees are unnecessary and costly, and the current method of allocation has slowed technical innovation in the courts and hindered access to public information. Accordingly, I am also asking the Committee to amend the ARK legislation to stimulate healthy competition between JTAC and commercial vendors by leveling the playing field: allocate 3/4 of the fee to local governments to allow them to choose between JTAC or a commercial vendor for their case management system.

Increasing the fee is unnecessary because commercial vendors already operating in Indiana offer full-featured case management systems at a fraction of the cost incurred by JTAC for the Odyssey system. These vendors offer a range of solutions that meet the needs of different sizes and kinds of courts, from the largest counties with many judges and courtrooms, to juvenile courts, and to the smallest municipalities operating traffic courts. Why not stimulate healthy competition between JTAC and the commercial vendors by giving localities a choice in how a portion of the ARK money is spent on their behalf? Does one size really fit all?

The fee is costly to Hoosiers because there are nearly 2 million cases filed annually. An increase from $4 to $10 per case increases the burden on the people of Indiana by nearly $12 million dollars a year. To put this number in perspective, the entire budget of Doxpop is smaller than the income generated by a $1 ARK fee. I'm not asking for any portion of the ARK fee for Doxpop, but all that we accomplish we do at very low cost. If the primary goals of improving court technology and increasing access to court information can be achieved at a lower cost, is it wise to raise the fee?

The fee stifles innovation in our courts because it encourages JTAC to think that it's the only game in town. A higher fee tempts JTAC to believe that it can meet the needs of all courts everywhere without cooperating with or utilizing the strengths of market-based solutions. Commercial case managements system vendors have offered integrated document management, online ticket payment, electronic filing, enhanced access, and a host of other services that can only be offered by JTAC if you opt to increase and extend the fees. By limiting the fee to what is actually needed to get the job done, you will encourage JTAC to think creatively about how to accomplish the work without doing everything internally. Must courts wait for JTAC to get around to these innovations and at what cost?

The fee also has the effect of limiting access to public information. JTAC and the Division of State Court Administration have consistently and repeatedly denied Doxpop and others who have requested access to public information from the Odyssey system. Similarly, the Division has prevented Doxpop from proceeding with making non-confidential court filings available via the Internet. While we agree that appropriate caution and care is necessary when considering new technologies, especially as we seek an appropriate balance between privacy and public access, we wonder why our efforts to move forward are stymied by JTAC and the Division. Is it because they don't want us to offer services that they do not? Is it because they hope to charge fees of their own for enhanced access and bulk access?

By allowing the ARK fee to reduce to $4 per case as planned, you encourage JTAC and the Division to make judicious use of precious funds and encourage cooperation with the marketplace instead of trying to replace it. By allowing local governments the ability to choose whether to spend ARK funding on JTAC or other systems, you give it further incentive to meet the needs of the courts at reasonable costs.

Doxpop shares the goals of the Court and this Legislature in creating a 21st Century case management system for Indiana. We hope that the creative energy and resources of Doxpop and others can be a part of this solution.

Thank you for your consideration. I would be happy to answer any questions you have about my assertions or our direct experience with JTAC or the Division.

Senator Steele: Mr. Ontko, you said something that caught my attention. Can you elaborate on being denied access to public information?

Ray Ontko: Doxpop first began providing public access to Indiana court case information in July of 2002. Our approval to do so was contingent on approval from the Division of State Court Administration who sent Kurt Snyder, Executive Director of JTAC to interview us in Monroe County, our first partner county. In January of 2007 we learned that Monroe would be switching to Odyssey and we contacted Mary DePrez, the new Executive Director of JTAC, to see if we could begin development of an interface for us to receive Odyssey data to prevent a gap in service for our Monroe County subscribers. After a series of delays, it became clear that we needed to make a formal request. On October 25, 2007 we submitted our first formal request for access to Odyssey data. Each year we renew this request. Doxpop and at least 7 other organizations have been denied bulk access to public case information in Odyssey.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Decatur County, Indiana Joins Doxpop Fine Pay

Decatur County, Indiana is now accepting on-line fine payments through the Doxpop Fine Payment Service at payment.doxpop.com. This service will be especially useful for travelers who have received a traffic citation while traveling Interstate 74 between Cincinnati and Indianapolis, or while visiting Greensburg. Decatur's neighboring counties of Bartholomew and Franklin also use the Doxpop Fine Payment system. Doxpop would like to offer a very special thank you to County Clerk Janet Chadwell, and staff members Karen and Joan for their effort in bringing Doxpop Fine Payment to their county.