Alameda County court case management system causing problems

Daniel Ho/Staff

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The Alameda County Superior Court is working to fix its case management system in light of recent problems.

According to Chad Finke, the court executive officer for the Alameda County Superior Court, the system was implemented a few months ago. Finke said the software has not been malfunctioning — it simply “does not appear to have been designed” for a court system as large as Alameda County’s.

“The way our clerks have to put data into (the) system is extremely cumbersome,” Finke said. “Courtrooms are very busy. … Clerks find it difficult, if not impossible, to keep up with getting the data in the system.”

After the courtroom clerk inputs information into the case management system, the system puts the data into a central system that then shares the data as is appropriate, according to Finke.

Finke said the complex process has likely caused some defendants to be held in jail longer than they should have been because their release dates weren’t registered in the system. He added that the system could potentially cause people released on bail to be arrested again because the warrant may not be properly rescinded.

Assistant District Attorney Teresa Drenick emphasized that the District Attorney’s Office was committed to addressing and fixing any of the system’s problems and respecting defendants’ rights.

“We are doing extra to make sure no one’s rights are abridged,” Drenick said.

The software was created by Tyler Technologies, which could not be reached for comment as of press time. In a press release, however, the company said the Alameda County Superior Court prematurely implemented the system despite Tyler Technologies’ recommendations.

In the press release, the company also pledged to help the county with the new system in any way it could.

“Tyler is ready, willing and able to provide assistance to the Court on any issues related to this implementation,” the release said.

According to Finke, Tyler Technologies has offered to send a team to help the court change its operations to make it more compatible with the software. Finke said Tyler Technologies, however, did not offer to revamp the software to improve performance with a larger court.

“They have offered help but it is not the help we feel we need,” Finke said.

Finke said any option to fix the system would require money that the courts do not have in their budget.

The Alameda courts are working with their IT department to potentially modify the system so data could be inputted in a different way, according to Finke.

He added that the courts are also considering creating their own new system. This, however, would be a huge endeavor requiring many more programmers.

“The status quo is just not sustainable,” Finke said. “Everything is on the table right now.”

Contact Kate Tinney at [email protected].