SMITHFIELD, N.C. (WNCN) — As Johnston County Clerk of Court Michelle Ball puts it: “out with paper and in with electronics.” Ball’s office is saying goodbye to a 40-year-old computer system and saying hello to an $85 million statewide upgrade.
But before all of North Carolina’s 100 counties go online, Johnston County will serve as a live test.
“The whole state will benefit. We have tried to stand in the gap and ask the hard questions and put our foot down and say, ‘no that’s not how we need to do it, that’s not how the record is kept, you need to go back to the drawing board and fix it,'” said Ball.
The counties of Wake, Lee and Harnett will also serve as pilot counties.
Tyler Technologies is the company that was chosen to implement the new system. Ball is familiar with the serious issues and litigation Tyler Technologies has and continues to face in other parts of the country. Knowing what those problems are elsewhere helps Ball know what to look out for.
“We’re going to be watching those most closely. Even though there’s a new electronic system, it’s still my responsibility to look at it and we plan to do that,” she said.
Ball’s staff of 51 has spent months and months preparing to hopefully avoid major issues.
For the last two months they’ve used both the old and new system, called Odyssey, in tandem. That’s helped staff work out anything they see as potentially problematic. It also helps Ball to be optimistic about Monday’s launch.
“The change is bumpy, but it’s not bad,” Ball said.
Odyssey cuts the number of steps needed to enter civil and criminal cases into the database. If you’ve even been in a clerk of court’s office, you’ve seen the rows and rows of cases. That old paperwork will now have to be manually entered.
Staff will be working through the Super Bowl weekend ahead.
“So what we’re doing today, tomorrow and Saturday is we are taking all the staples and paper clips out of the files, taking them off of the clips, holding them into the files and we’re readying them so on Sunday—when the Odyssey system comes up—we’ll be able to physically put them in the scanner on our desk, scan them in and attach them to the appropriate file number,” Ball explained.
It’s unknown how well or smoothly this will go. But Ball believes it’s the best move.
“We know that it will work. We just are going to need grace and patience to allow us to get up to full speed as we learn a new system and a new language for our record keeping system,” she said.