LUBBOCK, Texas — Lubbock County’s IT Director was optimistic about the rollout of the county’s software conversion as he presented an update to the Commissioners Court on Monday.
The update came four and a half months after the county switched the software they use to access court records and administer the judicial system, from KeyCorp to Tyler Technologies.
Lawyers have complained the switch delayed the administration of justice and blocked their access to important records, such as blocking their discovery of evidence materials and incorrectly listing the inmates in the county jail .
The county said they have made significant progress in resolving the issues.
“We have challenges. Both internal and external challenges. These challenges are nothing we take lightly,” IT Director Isaac Badu said. “Not even a day has gone by since we’ve gone live that the courts could not take in a case, that the clerks had to close down because the software broke. This is all due to the high diligence of work… in my assessment, we have had a very successful ‘go-live’ with almost every one of the products.”
Badu said his office has nearly cleared an influx of orders related to accessing records. Out of the 1,342 requests received, they resolved 1,238.
“92 percent of these work orders have currently been closed, and the eight percent that are left, we continue to work through them,” Badu said. “This is still an ongoing process. Every day we get requests coming in.”
Badu outlined the ways his department responded to various concerns from area attorneys, including being unable to access their case records or view county jail rosters.
“We came up with solutions to allow attorneys that have cases in the system to be able to still see their cases. That, we worked on and made available sometime in the early parts of October,” he said. “Another thing we did since we took the jail piece of it offline, we came up with a jail roster that currently we publish who is actively in jail twice a day.”
Badu also explained his department’s response to reports of expunged records made publicly available, a problem first reported by defense attorneys on September 10.
“That same day… the jail and everybody, almost, in my staff sat down, and there were 500 cases. We were able to identify them. These cases were converted correctly, but during the process we forgot to check on mark, that was ‘make these nondisclosed,'” Badu said. “We identified those, we went in the system and we manually corrected all 500 of them. I was sitting at the table making these corrections as well… by the end of the day on the 10th of September, it was corrected.”
As for complaints of incorrect bonds listed on the jail roster, Badu said his office is actively working with the county jail to fix the issue.
County leaders explained that certain issues are to be expected when converting decades of files in a switch like this.
“We have gone through a tremendous change,” Precinct 3 Commissioner Gilbert Flores said. “Not everything is going to go smooth. There’s going to be kinks in the system, we’re going to have to iron them out.”
When asked when the media and the general public will have access to the public records portal, Judge Parrish directed to the District Attorney’s Office.
“They will be working with the IT department, working with Tyler Technologies, to make sure that data is safe and secure and that we don’t release information that should not be released the the public,” Judge Parrish said. “I’ve directed them to work hard and to work as fast as possible, but I do not want them to make mistakes along the way. Just asking for patience as we go through the process of 10 million records.”
Commissioners also considered a motion to expand oversight of the IT department to all four commissioners. Currently, the department is under the purview of the county judge alone.
“I think it’s an undue burden on you, Judge,” Precinct 2 Commissioner Jason Corley said. “We should all share in that burden.”
Parrish denied that the burden is “undue” and expressed concerns over changing the county’s organizational structure in the middle of the fiscal year. Those hierarchical changes are normally made in the budgetary process.
The motion was tabled until July 25, 2022 on a 3-2 vote, with commissioners Chad Seay and Jason Corley voting against.
“The software conversion affects every aspect of what we do in Lubbock County and providing services to the people of Lubbock County,” Judge Parrish said. “We want to make sure we get it right.”