Dateline, Portland Oregon, August, 2011
A $200 Million Fiasco??
bulletinsfromaloha.org has reported on past boondoggles by the Oregon Supreme Court. The Oregon Supreme Court eCourt program surpasses all past disasters by Chief Presiding Justice Paul De Muniz by $200 million and then some.
This is a sickening story of incompetence, deceit, and outright fraud by your Oregon Supreme Court. Oregon State Bar member Kenji Sugahara formally proposed electronic court filings in Oregon in 2002 as has been done in federal court for over ten years, The Oregon Supreme Court says they might get done with the Oregon version in 2017. Fifteen years to get a job done? In computer science where the technology changes in less than every five years?
Curiously, when the Oregon Supreme Court gives their version of the background on electronic court filings they leave out Kenji’s Oregon State Bar formal House of Delegates resolution. Oregon’s Judicial Department headed by Justice De Muniz also leaves out how long ago this concept was first proposed, but even using their ‘History’ it is bad enough.
It took two years for former Chief Justice Wallace P. Carson to appoint a task force to study the concept of eCourt electronic filings in court matters. The Oregon State Bar formed a state e-filing task force in 2005 chaired by Mark Comstock who just happens to work in Chief Justice Paul De Muniz’ old law firm. Mr. Comstock was in no hurry either. He still chairs the ‘task force’ which became moribund after the Chief Justice took over. Following that event the following vendors have been hired by Justice De Muniz on this multimillion dollar boondoggle:
- MTG Management Consultants, LLC
- Hyland Software
- ImageSoft, Inc.
- LT Court Tech
- InfoSENTRY SERVICES, Inc
- Tyler Technologies, Inc
Guess who? Oregon eCourt Task Force Attorney Jeffrey N. Barlow who worked for Justice De Muniz, “...was lured by other employment offers to leave the Oregon Judicial Department...” according to Mr. Comstock’s November, 2006 Task Force report. Now Mr. Barlow works for ImageSoft, Inc. as their consultant and attorney. This is one of the vendors Justice De Muniz just happened to have hired for the Oregon eCourt project. (Need I remind you that Justice De Muniz also has a former partner of his on the Oregon Judge compensation committee)
The cost of the Oregon eCourt Program was estimated by Justice De Muniz to be $118 million over a ten year period. He is borrowing this money. The debt service on this money is already over $20 million. One could ask two questions. First, when the federal government already had figured out an E-filing system (after all -- this is nothing more than just sending an Email with an attachment), why did the Oregon courts not simply emulate this successful program which has been up and running now for over six years? Reinventing the Wheel!!
Second, why all these vendors? If Tyler Technologies is now the cat’s meow, why didn’t someone do their homework in 2004-8 and hire them first? They have been around in this arena for over 30 years.
The Oregon Supreme Court is Put on a Short Leash
Two months ago, the Oregon Legislature’s Fiscal Office issued a report from the Joint Committee on Ways and Means that requires The Supreme Court of Oregon to adhere to a strict schedule of reports and dates on their eCourt program. This Committee has required Justice De Muniz to sign an agreement to follow Legislative requirements and oversight before receiving another red penny. An interim independent quality assurance report alerted the lawmakers to the multimillion dollar Oregon eCourt fiasco. There is no end in sight unless the legislature and the judiciary do their job.
Justice De Muniz was hailed before the legislative ‘court’ to plead his case -- which the Oregon legislature obviously did not buy. A reading of their June 17, 2011 report finds Justice De Muniz ‘guilty’. And how.
Warning -- Tyler Technologies, Inc has put out a slick Wall Street Journal press release on their getting a recent $31 million payment from Justice De Muniz and then followed that up with slick power point presentations. How much of this money is going to be spent on PR instead of a simple court Email filing system -- with attachments.
PUG GOES WANDERING
Piqued by the squander of it all, I had yet another shock in store. I wandered into Multnomah County Circuit Court last week. Multnomah is one of five pilot counties for the implementation of eCourt. Presenting myself at the public access desk I found a long-forgotten sight. A DOS screen; the court people euphemistically call a ‘green’ screen. The public instruction chart is so old and faded, I could not read it even with my reading glasses. It is the opposite of user friendly. Remember way back when you saw your first personal computer? DOS came out as the operating system of use in the early 1980’s That is what OJIN is. That is the system Oregon eCourt leaves in place.
Then came laserfiche into Oregon’s court systems. That is another early quest for the paperless file. Also still in use in Multnomah County from the late 1980’s -- an Oregon eCourt project pilot county!! Another failure. I have a queasy feeling about this one..........and we’ve got the wrong person in charge.
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