The system responsible for gathering the names of inmates for scheduled court proceedings failed several times in recent weeks, delaying the court and prompting calls for new software.
(TNS) — A computer software malfunction at the jail in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, ground common pleas court operations in the Justice Center to a halt for a few hours Wednesday.
It was the second time this week and third time this month that the IMACS software failed to compile the names of more than 100 inmates with scheduled court proceedings, the court’s top judge said.
Without that list, corrections officers and sheriff’s deputies did not know who to bring over to court. Without defendants, judges could not call hearings to order.
It took jail staff until about 11:30 a.m. Wednesday to begin moving defendants over to the jail, three hours after the day’s first hearings were set to begin.
“It’s affecting the flow of justice,” Judge John J. Russo.
County spokeswoman Mary Louise Madigan did not know about Wednesday’s malfunction until contacted by a cleveland.com reporter later that afternoon.
She said that when the same thing happened Monday, the court’s backup plan to have staff manually create a list of inmates kicked in and a new list was created by 9:50 a.m. She did not know how long it took for inmates to actually make into the courtrooms.
“We have a backup system and that system worked,” Madigan said.
After 3 p.m. each day, every judge’s bailiff submits to the jail a list of the defendants that have business before the court scheduled for the next day, Russo said. The IMACS program is supposed to take all of those names and create a master list that deputies use to bring the inmates over.
Madigan said she does not know what is causing the malfunction.
Russo estimated that between 150 and 200 of the roughly 2,000 inmates being held in the county’s jail on any given day are moved over to the courts for a variety of proceedings, including trials, sentencing hearings, probation violation hearings, suppression hearings or change-of-plea hearings.
Russo said he was concerned that the repeated delays could cause inmates whose judges planned to sentence them to probation or time-served, or to release them into a treatment program to remain locked up in the jail for unnecessary days.
But hearings are more than just defendants, lawyers and judges. Witnesses waiting to testify, victims and family members of victims waiting for trial or to give victim-impact statements at a sentencing hearing, all are left waiting for hours, Russo said.
Russo said he called the county’s interim IT director, Andy Molls, on Wednesday morning to ask what happened. Molls told him that the county cannot find a vendor to work on the program because it is so outdated, Russo said.
Madigan said the county is in the process of replacing IMACS with an updated, more comprehensive software called XJail. She said she did not know when that replacement will take place.
“As soon as it’s up and running, we expect that these problems will be a thing of the past,” Madigan said.
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