The state's attorney general and all its district attorneys will use Tyler's Odyssey product for electronic filing and record-keeping. The update has been a long time coming for prosecutors.
(TNS) — The Maine Attorney General’s Office and all of the state's district attorneys have hired Tyler Technologies to update the computer systems for the state’s new electronic record keeping.
The same company won a $15 million contract in 2016 to computerize all the paperwork for Maine courts. Prosecutors needed to find a way to work with the new system, called Odyssey.
“The first thing we needed to do was see what software we needed to purchase that would allow us to interface with the courts as smoothly as possible, and using the same company that designed the court system, that just makes sense,” said District Attorney Andrew Robinson, who handles cases in Androscoggin, Franklin and Oxford counties.
The Maine Legislature approved funding for a modernized electronic filing system years ago, and implementation will take multiple years. The state’s top judge decided last year that the the public will be able to access that system online for a fee, which is similar to the electronic system used by federal courts.
Robinson said the eight prosecutorial districts in Maine pooled their resources 20 years ago to purchase a case management system, but it was not equipped for the new demands from the court. He worked on the committee that studied options to update or replace that system, and this month he helped choose Tyler Technologies as the vendor for all of the district attorney offices.
The Maine Department of Economic and Community Development awarded them a $1.5 million grant to pay for the upfront costs, Robinson said. The annual fees shared between all the prosecutors’ offices in the state will be less than $70,000, which Robinson said is a savings of more than $100,000 each year.
Officials from Tyler Technologies said they are excited to bring their system to more users in Maine. The company is headquartered in Texas but has an office in Yarmouth, Maine that employs more than 800 people.
“The state of Maine has taken a very efficient approach and wisely recognized the ability and the opportunity to bring these two systems together,” said Robert Schott, director of sales for the Odyssey system.
Odyssey is used by 14 statewide court systems, including Maine, and 700 county courts.
In 2017, three men filed a class-action lawsuit against a Tennessee sheriff, Tyler Technologies and other defendants. They blamed the Odyssey system for keeping them in jail longer when they should have been released. When the Portland Press Herald reported about that lawsuit, company officials said the problem is not caused by Odyssey, but by antiquated government computers and jail systems.
A company spokeswoman said this month that the Tennessee county remains a Tyler Technologies customer.
“Tyler has not identified a defect, and no defect has been reported to Tyler, that would tie an issue in Odyssey to the allegations in plaintiffs’ lawsuit,” Jennifer Kepler wrote in an email. “Tyler is confident the plaintiffs’ remaining claim against Tyler is without merit, and Tyler will continue to vigorously defend against the lawsuit.”
News outlets including The Washington Post and Courthouse News have reported about trouble with Tyler Technology systems in other states, including California. Earlier this year, the Mercury News reported that a group of California police unions complained that the Odyssey made it difficult for them to find bench and arrest warrants, endangering their officers. But the newspaper also reported the court and the company said the warrant backlog is not related to a malfunction with the computer system.
Kepler said lawsuits are rare for the company.
“We take our client’s concerns very seriously, and nearly always reach a satisfactory resolution well before escalation of a legal nature,” she wrote. “On rare occasions, Tyler clients have been named in lawsuits, with Tyler named as a defendant or co-defendant. These lawsuits have historically been without merit, usually involving mistaken beliefs about Tyler’s role in the client’s technology landscape and/or a misunderstanding of the contractual scope.”
In Maine, Robinson said he would be concerned if the new technology had adverse impacts on people in the criminal justice system, but he felt confident in the software.
“Tyler Technologies is a leading producer of software that is used by public agencies,” he said. “Given the amount of work that they do, there was nothing that was brought to our attention that made us feel that we weren’t making a good decision by partnering with them and the judicial branch.”
©2019 the Portland Press Herald (Portland, Maine). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.