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'Everybody is just frustrated' | Lawmaker closely monitoring troubled court software rollout

North Carolina state House Democratic leader Robert Reives said some of the issues with the new courtroom computer system are troubling.

RALEIGH, N.C. — The disastrous rollout of expensive new technology in North Carolina courts now has the attention of state lawmakers.

While Robert Reives, the House Democratic leader, is backing down a bit from last week when he called for a full-blown investigation into eCourts software, he said Tuesday he is still keeping a close watch.

He’s concerned about state taxpayers having to pay even more for an already-expensive mess. 

 "I’ve had lawyer after lawyer, judge clerk, prosecutors, everybody is just frustrated," he said.

The new eCourts technology rollout in Wake and three surrounding counties has been a mess, the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) told us two weeks ago that there had already been more than 350 glitches.


Late last week the house democratic leader called for an investigation into the technology developed by Tyler Tech. On Tuesday, Reives said he’s holding off on an investigation for now after a conversation with the AOC.

"I believe AOC and I are on the same page. I told the speaker let's hold off," he said. "We can hold off for now. I've been happy with the response and these folks just want to get heard."

The North Carolina Judicial Branch released this statement to WCNC Charlotte following their conversation with Reives:

“We value the productive working relationship the Judicial Branch has with Leader Reives, and appreciate his accessibility and willingness to allow us to correct significant misinformation he had heard," Graham Wilson, the communications director for the North Carolina Judicial Branch, wrote in his statement. "We appreciate the General Assembly’s longstanding support of eCourts and share the goal of making the project a success by delivering digital access to the courts system for all North Carolinians."

Reives admits some of the issues, such as people reportedly being held in jail for days after their case was dismissed, are troubling and could be costly to taxpayers.

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"I'm always worried about lawsuits," he said. "You don’t want lawsuits but more importantly you don’t want people impacted."

He’s also aware the $100 million price tag isn’t paying for all the troubleshooting and someone is going to have to pay out more money to cover the additional costs."

"I have no idea how much it would cost but it is my hope that it won’t cost us more money," he said. "I think a lot of the issues are issues the company is going to have to resolve and I’m hoping AOC is going to work hard to make sure they resolve those."

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Wilson said the new system remains "fully operational" in the counties already online.

“Pilot county courts remain fully operational and have handled over 50,000 filings using Odyssey. Handling these cases digitally has saved an estimated 465,000 pieces of paper from being added to court files. Public users conduct approximately 10,000 Portal searches daily, saving thousands of trips to local courthouses and calls to the clerk’s office," Wilson wrote in his statement. "We are grateful to local courthouse officials and staff for their great work during this transition and we remain committed to improving the Odyssey experience for all users."

Reives is glad the planned launch in Mecklenburg County next month has been delayed. He is not aware of when it could launch in Charlotte.

All-in-all, he is against demands to scrap the new technology

"Saying, 'You’ve got all kinds of problems, let's scrap it,' that’s not realistic," he said, "What is realistic is saying, 'These are the issues we have. Please tell us they can be fixed, how they’re going to be fixed and when they’re going to be fixed.'"

Editor's Note: This story was updated on Apr. 26 to include a response from Graham Wilson, the communications director for the North Carolina Judicial Branch.

Contact Michelle Boudin at mboudin@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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