Hailing from the era of the camcorder and original Game Boy, Hall County’s Comprehensive Justice Information System is finally getting put on the shelf more than 30 years later.
The court system is moving to eCourt by Journal Technology, which is expected to go live June 1. Courts coordinator Margie Reed-Payne said the product is a browser-based software that will be a “digital recordkeeper of all calendars, filings, documents and financials.”
“While the Comprehensive Justice Information System currently in use has served the county ably since the 1980s, court officials and other users have known for years that a new, modernized system was needed,” Reed-Payne wrote in an email. “The Hall County Sheriff’s Office and county prosecutors, for example, have already moved away from CJIS, and one advantage of the eCourt platform will be its ability to better communicate and interface with the various databases in use — particularly with regards to criminal justice data exchanges.”
All elements of criminal justice — from the Sheriff’s Office to the prosecutors to the clerks — need to access information from one another as cases progress from arrest to conviction.
Court administrator Jason Stephenson said eCourt would streamline reporting to Georgia’s Administrative Office of the Courts, the Department of Driver Services and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s Georgia Crime Information Center.
“It will offer more robust calendaring and search capabilities, provide a better document viewing experience for users, and automate some case management workflows for judicial offices – for instance, notifying judicial assistants when a civil case has had no activity in six months,” Stephenson said.
Stephenson said the department for misdemeanor probation will now be in the same case management system, which would mean they don’t have to enter the information twice.
The Sheriff’s Office moved to Superion’s ONESolution Records Management System in 2018.
The Northeastern Judicial Circuit is partnering with the Judicial Council of Georgia’s Administrative Office of the Courts to make this transition to eCourt, which was first agreed to in July 2017.
“Our partnership with the (Administrative Office of the Courts) was a unique and incredibly cost-effective opportunity to meet a need we knew we had,“ Chief Judge Kathlene Gosselin said in a statement. “Through funding provided by the state, Hall County incurred no implementation costs, no infrastructure costs, no conversion or support costs; in fact, our arrangement also provides the first year of licensing fees for every single user.”
Reed-Payne said they started the process of converting to eCourt in October 2019, adding that the judicial circuit is now in the final phase of testing and data migration.
Court administration did not provide answers by press time on the funding provided by the Administrative Office of the Courts or the licensing fees after the the first year.
With the system is expected to go live in a few months, Reed-Payne said the “court clerks, probation officers and judicial staff are looking forward to a more efficient and quality experience that will better meet the needs of the citizens they serve.”
Kimberly Adams, the traffic bureau supervisor, was training on the new system in early March.
“It’s an adjustment, but we all like it pretty good,” Adams said. “It’s different. There’s still things we don’t know.”
Adams said she particularly enjoyed the case management portion of it that made cases more easily accessible.
“If you had somebody on the phone that you hung up with them and then they call back, you’re easily able to go right into their case without having to search it again,” she said.