RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — “It’s created so many more steps for everyone and it’s placed a bigger burden on all of us.” Attorney Emily Mistr went on to say that this burden is even greater for her clients — all due to the new eCourt computer system.

“And it is terrible, I mean I cannot emphasize how awful it is, in my opinion,” she said.

Mistr heads Campbell University’s Blanchard Community Law Clinic. The clinic helps qualified clients who can’t afford an attorney get their criminal record expunged. Clearing a record has a direct impact on a number of things, including getting a job.

The process to get the request before a judge was not that difficult until the court system switched its software.

Full CBS 17 coverage of the $100 million NC courts overhaul

“If I have a client who has 70 cases, which is not terribly uncommon, I’m doing that process 70 individual times. It took me an hour to run 10 records for one client who had a very unusual name. Who was relatively easy to identify,” Mistr said.

One major issue is that when Mistr searches a name she can’t see a birth date. So, if you have 50 people with the same name you can’t easily narrow it down which makes it very time-consuming.

This comes just less than three years after both the North Carolina House and Senate voted unanimously for the Second Chance Act. It gives people who are charged with or committed non-violent crimes a chance to have their record expunged. That also includes people who were charged before December 1, 2019 who were 16 or 17 years old at the time.

“So, there’s an entire section of the law that cannot be accomplished,” said Mistr.

There is no room for error, but Mistr believes the new software increases that chance.

 “The records are going to be less reliable as accurate. Which also makes practitioners very nervous because under the current law it’s a one-shot deal. If I miss something there’s not a recourse under the current law. My client is just out of luck,” she said.

Now there is less of a chance to even get an expungement case in court.

“Once eCourts went live and we realized how bad it was, those 15 people have now gotten letters or will get letters that say we’re sorry we can’t help you right now and we don’t know when we can help you in the future. Because we don’t even know if we can afford to continue to do the work,” said Mistr.

It’s not just pro-bono clinics like this one that have issues. So do private attorneys. The longer it takes the more a client may be charged.  

“Which means less people are going to be able to afford them which means the people that need my services, it’s going to go up. But realistically our numbers of people we can serve is going to go down dramatically because it takes so much more time to do each individual record,” Mistr said.

Since the pilot launch in Wake, Johnston, Harnett and Lee counties CBS 17 has learned of unnecessary jail time, social security numbers being made public and backed up court rooms that are delaying case after case.

Full CBS 17 coverage of the $100 million NC courts overhaul

The issues caused the upcoming May launch in Mecklenburg County to be delayed until further notice. There is no word yet when the rest of the state will make the switchover.

Tyler Technologies is being paid more than $100 million for the project. The company has referred all questions to the NCAOC. 

The NC Administrative Office of the Courts said it did receive several written questions from Mistr. The NCAOC provided CBS 17 with correspondence detailing instructions that addressed the issues in question. NCAOC went on to say, “as you can see, we were able to walk the attorney through the process so she could get the information she needed. We encourage attorneys who have questions to reach out via that email (eCourts@nccourts.org) so that support staff can help.”