Computer Crash

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State officials decided last month to pull the plug on a computer system that would have linked all the courthouses in California and law enforcement agencies to share information.

The Judicial Council voted to stop the California Court Case Management System, which was going to transform court operations into a paperless process throughout the state, a system that cuts down the information retrival process from days to a few clicks of the mouse.

The project's billion-dollar-plus price tag, vociferous critics including hundreds of judges and its slow progress contributed to its demise.

Quite frankly, it was also a tough sell in a state  where courtrooms are shutting down and the lines are growing in the courthouse just to file legal papers because of the state budget crisis.

Robert Sherman, the assistant executive officer with the Ventura County Superior Court, said Ventura County was. first to pioneer this new technology when it was spawned 10 years ago by the state. Since then, millions of state dollars were poured into the county's family and civil case management technology, said Mr. Sherman

As a result, the county has a Cadillac civil computer management system,  according to  Mr. Sherman.

"We have the best computer system in the county and possibly the state," said Mr. Sherman.

Also 25 percent of all civil filings in the state are currently processed using Case Management System, according to the Judicial Council's Administrative Office of the Court.

Ten years ago, six test counties -- Sacramento, Los Angeles, San Joaquin, Orange, San Diego and Ventura -- were the first to use the civil portion of the system to varying degrees to handle civil, small claims, probate and mental health cases.

Mr. Sherman said the county must now look for money to gradually upgrade the county's criminal computer system.

The Court Reporter
Raul Hernandez has spent years writing stories about the drama that unfolds in the courtroom. Here he answers common questions, share some insights on the judicial system and passes along some of the little things that make the Ventura County courts an interesting place to be. You can contact him at