Doxpop - Tools for Attorneys and Public Information Researchers: November 2011

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  • Madison County Court (Historical cases only- this court is no longer active.)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!