Questions Raised About SD Civil Court's Computer System

Court Using Case Management System By Deloitte

California taxpayers are buying a billion-dollar computer system for the courts, but the 10News I-Team learned there may be problems with the system and that there are lawsuits against its creator.

San Diego civil courts were the first in California to use the computer system. If it works here, the whole state will follow.

Michael Roddy, San Diego County Court Administrator, believes in the case management computer system.

"It works every day and it works well," Roddy told 10News.

"Is it efficient?" asked 10News investigative reporter Mitch Blacher.

"Is it efficient -- not yet," responded Roddy.

But Lori Brody, a court clerk, quit in frustration.

"People were unable to do anything, so you'd spend your whole day not being able to get much work done," said Brody.

Like other court clerks, she said the case management computer system made her job harder.

"Do a screenshot, send an e-mail, keep a log. I said, 'when do I get my work done?'" she asked.

Here's how the computer system works. A court clerk inputs what happened in court and sets future appointments in a case while using the new computer system. According to court clerks, this used to take around a minute. With the new computer system, it took more than eight minutes.

"Is this new computer system as efficient as the old system the day it went off-line?" asked Blacher.

"No, but it's a vastly different and a much bigger system," said Roddy.

Roddy said getting the new computer system is a leap in technology.

"It's like going from a skateboard to a car," he said.

The new computer system is built to get rid of paper files, making every case electronic. The goal is to link every court in the state by having them all use the same computer system.

The managers who bought the system call it innovative, but the clerks who used it said no one likes it.

"I haven't found that person," said Brody.

"No clerk in the court system?" asked Blacher.

"No," answered Brody.

"In the state of California?" asked Blacher

"No one that I know," said Brody.

10News obtained a copy of a log detailing page after page of problems. A clerk wrote that she was "unable to add several attorney appearances." Another clerk wrote he was "unable to save changes" and another wrote, "wrong amount appears in trust detail."

When asked what the biggest concern he had with the system, criminal Judge Tony Miano responded, "I think that it won't work."

Miano said if the case management system slows criminal courts like it has civil courts, it may cost people their freedom or their lives. He cited the courts' ability to hand out restraining orders quickly.

"If you have a large delay in that, it could be potentially lethal," he said.

Questions about Deloitte, the company that designed the case management system, were also raised.

In Marin County, officials are suing the company because they claim the computer system they bought did not work. The lawsuit claims that Deloitte committed fraud and "misrepresented its skills and experience."

The Los Angeles Unified School District is trying to get $140 million back after they spent that much de-bugging their Deloitte computer system.

"My concern is with their performance on my project and with my court and to those two issues I'm satisfied with their performance," said Roddy.

So far, the new computer system has cost $386 million to test. After four years, even management admits it's not free of errors.

"The current estimate once it's fully deployed in all 58 counties is about $1.3 billion," said Roddy.

"That's a lot," said Blacher.

"That's a lot of money," said Roddy. "California is a big state."