Indiana, Tippecanoe Co - Courts late Y2k conversion is chaos : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

January 20, 2000

To update court computers, workers sentenced to chaos

By Jilaine Burley, Journal and Courier of Lafayette, Indiana

Computer dependency can be so brutal.

The new CourtView 2000 system is almost completely operational, but the three-day span this month without computers has left Tippecanoe County court employees struggling to wade through the mounds of work that piled up during the transition.

Complete conversion to the new Y2K-compliant computer system is taking longer than expected, said Information Services director Dan Gentry. And because the conversion couldn't take place during the courts' holiday break, employees had to work part of the second week of the new year without a computer system.

Now, all the data that was generated manually must be entered into the new system -- all while the courts continue to maintain their daily schedule.

In some cases, the amount of backlogged work is overwhelming. County Court 2 Judge Laura Zeman took advantage of a light court schedule Wednesday to close her office to try and catch up. She heard the one bench trial that was scheduled, but avoided other interruptions by posting a "closed" sign on her office door.

"We have about 500 pages worth of calendar entries to make," she said. "And orders, we haven't been able to type those in."

Down the hall in County Court 1 Judge Gregory Donat was having the same problem. Although he did not close the office, he said his staff is running about 10 days behind.

"We're usually about one day behind," he said Wednesday. "We've got 10 days of work stacked up."

In some cases, he said, warrants were being generated for people who had not shown up for the court dates -- before he realized their orders to appear in court had not been sent.

"It's been very trying," Donat said. "Everybody's frustrated, and the staff people's morale is pretty low. But the people from Information Services have been supportive. We're getting as good a service as we can get."

Gentry said Ohio-based Crawford Consulting has been working nights and weekends to convert all the information from the old Judicial Automated Management System to the new CourtView.

"They've had several setbacks on converting the data and making sure it converts correctly," Gentry said. "We want to make sure we do it correctly."

The court docket entries are the only files of information left to convert. However, about 6.5 million records are on that file. That conversion is continuing at night, so as not to affect the performance of the users during the day. Everything but the dockets were converted by Jan. 12.

"The real problem we have now," Gentry said, "Is when you look at a case today, you might not see all the information. They can view the old system to see what was there before, but that's a little tedious."

Judge George Heid brought in an extra court reporter to handle the daily courtroom operations, while the regular court reporter enters the computer data.

"There's a little bit of a backlog," bailiff Brenda Rody said. "But it's not overwhelming to us yet. We know we're going to have to make the change, and we just do the best we can do. There are always kinks to work out."

Once the final conversion is done, Donat anticipates taking his staff up on their offer to volunteer their time during the evenings to catch up.

"It's difficult to keep pace with the volume of cases alone," Donat said. "If you lose one day, it's a real problem. Two days is a major problem. When you get to 10 days, it's huge -- like a tidal wave breaking over you."

-- Lee Maloney (, February 10, 2000

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