County commissioners authorize purchase of new jury software

Published 9:59 am Monday, May 11, 2015

While it won’t eliminate the grumbling of residents receiving a summons for jury duty, the actual process of issuing the documents will be getting a whole lot easier for the people creating them.

During its meeting Thursday morning, the Cass County board of commissioners approved a five-year subscription agreement with software vendor Courthouse Technologies for their suite of jury processing programs to the county, which is cost around $12,000 a year beginning in 2016. The board also agreed to set aside $2,000 in funds to pay for a training seminar for the county employees who will be using the new software.

The county will be receiving a discounted rate for use of the software, as it is entering into the agreement alongside neighboring Van Burn and St. Joseph counties. The software will be installed inside Berrien County, which recently agreed to host the program and allow employees from Cass and other neighboring counties access it remotely, without charge, said Clerk/Register Monica Kennedy.

“That’s huge for us, because that means we won’t have to buy any servers,” Kennedy said. “No new technology is required. That’s what is so is unique about this situation.”

The neighboring county is beefing up the number of machines that will host the software in order to handle the increased traffic, Kennedy said. Berrien officials have used Courtroom Technologies for their jury processing needs for the past five years, she added.

“I’ve spoken with their courts, and they know it inside and out and are comfortable hosting it,” Kennedy said. “They absolutely love it, which makes me feel much better as well.”

Cass courts employees currently use MS-DOS based software to handle their jury questionnaires and summons, provided by the State of Michigan through JIS Software. Costing the county approximately $9,500 every year, the system is time consuming and archaic, Kennedy said.

Once the new Courtroom Technologies software is in place, the company will process, print and mail jury documents to residents at a cost of $2.90 per juror. It will also allow jurors to communicate with the courts via email or text messaging, Kennedy said.

“[The software] is pretty wonderful,” she said. “It will be much a better service, plus it will save a ton of money in employee time, labor cost as well in printing, paper and things like that. It’s a great system.”

The clerk’s office received another big win Thursday evening as well, as the board also approved funding for the installation of an environmental control system for their vault of county records, in the amount of $28,500. The commissioners also set aside $15,700 to pay for the restoration and digitization of five record books.