RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Just more than a week after CBS 17 spoke to Raleigh attorney Trey Fitzhugh, the problems he and his clients are having with the new court computer system continue.
“It’s almost constant it becomes a blur, if you want to know the truth. Because yes, getting back someone lawfully driving again, trying to handle matters that would normally go to DMV very quickly. Now you almost have to, and I think I used this term with you previously ‘shoehorn or ramrod through the system’ and all those impediments weren’t there before,” said Fitzhugh.
Standing in the lobby of the Wake County Courthouse, lawyer after lawyer approached a CBS 17 crew with similar complaints about the eCourts software, including John Fanney.
“I spent two hours yesterday doing something that takes two minutes. And why is that important? Well, it’s not just important for the time a lawyer has to invest. I mean multiply that by several thousand cases a week. This place is eventually going to come to a grinding halt,” he said.
Based on their own experiences, it comes as no surprise to attorneys that, by a judge’s administrative order, some district court sessions in Harnett County are delayed next week. The order says the cancelation of certain cases on March 27, 28, 30 and 31 will help to “assist with staff workload.”
It also is not a surprise that CBS 17 has learned Mecklenburg County’s pilot launch is now on hold due to what are being officially called “key defects” by the NC Judicial Branch.
Those defects are showing up in the first pilot counties of Wake, Johnston, Harnett and Lee.
Cary attorney Lindsey Granados is president of the Wake County Criminal Defense Bar. CBS 17 spoke to her on her way to an eCourts meeting.
She too is experiencing these same issues that she mentioned weeks ago, including access to her own cases.
“Cases that I know exist, that I even know the file number, if I do a name search nothing pops up still. So, there’s still a lot of instances like that where we’re struggling to be able to get the data that we need,” Granados said.
Granados agrees with delaying the Mecklenburg rollout.
“It’s a wise call to be able to stop for a moment, pause, take stock of where we are and try and figure out ways to move forward and fix the key problems that we’ve got,” she said.
As CBS 17 has reported since early February, the Texas software provider, Tyler Technologies, has had similar issues in other states.
At a cost of $100 million and counting, it’s up to Tyler to work out any problems with their product. But many agree the heaviest burden is now on the people who are just trying to keep justice moving forward.
From experience, Fanney said “everybody’s trying their hardest. Clerks are trying their hardest I’m sure, judges are trying their hardest, but we’re all getting the sense we were sold a bill of goods.”
Tyler Technologies has referred all media inquiries to the NC Administrative Office of the Courts and the NC Judicial Branch. In response to the most recent developments, the NC Judicial Branch said:
“With the partnership of committed local Judicial Branch leaders in Wake, Harnett, Johnston, and Lee, we continue to make progress in our implementation of eCourts. We are focused on providing support to end users and working with Tyler to resolve defects that have arisen since go-live. While we are glad that more than half the issues that have arisen have already been closed/resolved, important other issues remain.”
“Since we want to rollout a version in Mecklenburg that is improved from the version that our Pilot Counties are currently using, we need to take additional weeks working with Tyler to resolve key defects. A target go-live date for Mecklenburg County will be provided once it is established.”