Sonoma County court officials Monday defended a controversial new, paperless computer system, saying delays in processing a more detailed level of data have not caused inmates to be held beyond their release dates.
The $2.6 million Odyssey case management system debuted last month in criminal courtrooms after coming online earlier this year in the civil, probate and family law divisions. It allows internet access to many court records, replacing a 30-year-old system operated by the county.
Odyssey was criticized by users, including attorneys in the Public Defender’s Office, who said a lag time in updating court minutes was keeping inmates in jail too long. They pointed to the case of Steve Suits, 40, serving time for drug and weapons offenses, saying he remained in jail three days after he was supposed to be freed.
But court officials said they have taken steps to prevent anyone, including Suits, from being held improperly.
In an unsigned statement released Monday, Sonoma County Superior Court officials said written minutes continue to be delivered to the jail during the transition. They said Suits was held because of a calendar mistake in which his attorney brought only two of his four cases before a judge.
“Any error was not a result of the Odyssey case management system,” the court said.
However, officials acknowledged the shift was causing a backlog in the entry of court proceedings. They determined the need for more staff to process the data.
Such problems are not unusual in the move to a new system, they said, adding that Odyssey, made by Texas-based Tyler Technologies, is used in 23 California counties.
“The court continues to work closely with our justice partners on any issues that may arise,” the statement said.
Profession: Sonoma County public defender. Became the county’s first woman public defender when she was appointed to the $182,000-a-year position in 2012 by the Board of Supervisors
Home: Lives in Santa Rosa. Married with an adult daughter
Influences: As a child of the 1960s, TV lawyer Perry Mason; the late Marteen Miller, “a bigger than life” public defender and her former boss; and Elliot Daum, a former deputy public defender and current Sonoma County Superior Court judge.
Quote: “I’m not going to save the world. But in the end, I want what everybody else wants and that’s a safe and healthy community.”