Idaho’s judicial branch is making its budget pitch to state lawmakers this morning, and it’s a significant one. The court system is preparing for the rollout of a new court technology system over the next five years, and has a one-time funding request for next year of $4.85 million to launch it; Gov. Butch Otter has recommended approval of the funding. Patti Tobias, administrative director of the courts, said the Legislature has long supported a comprehensive, statewide approach to court technology, funding the current ISTARS system starting in 1989. “We have now stretched the software and hardware systems as far as possible. According to the vendor, ISTARS has reached end of life,” Tobias told the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee this morning. “We plan to replace and modernize the case management system for all courts in our trial and appellate courts.”
The new system will include electronic filing, storage and access to court documents, video conferencing across the state, interface with other state agencies including the state departments of Corrections and Health & Welfare and the Idaho State Police, and more. “On any given workday, nearly 1,700 new cases are filed across the state,” Tobias said. “In the new world, parties and attorneys will be able to electronically file … 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in any court in this state. … In the future anyone with an internet connection will be able to quickly find court documents and track cases.”
The court system conducted a nationwide request for proposals, received three bids, and selected Odyssey by Tyler Technologies, the nation’s largest vendor of such systems and one that already operates court technology for 10 states and 500 major cities and counties. “Our first go-live will be in Twin Falls County in May of 2015,” Tobias said. “So what we’re doing now is going through rigorous work in identifying all of the system requirements, what we have in place now, what the new system does, and any gaps in between."
In addition to the one-time funding request for next year, there will be additional, smaller requests over the next five years, declining each year. Also, Tobias said the courts will be bringing legislation this year to raise civil filing fees to fund ongoing technology costs. Counties and the state will see big future savings on paper file storage, saved staff time and more. “This will be a significant benefit to the counties,” she told lawmakers.