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County Panel Backs Switch To Electronic Records For Court System

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John Cody. John Cody
John Cody is a veteran reporter for Newsradio 780.
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CHICAGO (CBS) – The Cook County Board’s Technology Committee has voted that it’s time to stop tracking court cases, prisoners, and trials using carbon paper and sticky notes.

Commissioner John Fritchey (D-12th) said he believes Cook County is the nation’s largest consumer of carbon paper, and successfully urged members of the Technology Committee he chairs to recommend approval of plans to fully computerize records in the Cook County Circuit Court system.

Cook County Chief Information Officer Lydia Murray said the County has what amounts to a “zombie” computer system — one that’s kept working long after it died.

Fritchey said he believes the reliance on scrawled notes is one reason there have been a handful of prisoners mistakenly released from jail this year after criminal court appearances. He said information that jailers need just isn’t getting to them in a timely fashion.

The commissioner said there might be some resistance to complete judicial system automation, because it will mean some jobs lost, but he said that can be handled through attrition without causing undue hardship to current staffers.

Funding for the $15 million needed to upgrade the court records system is contained in Cook County Board President Tony Prekwinkle’s budget plan for next year.

The Technology Committee’s recommendation was expected to pass the full County Board with little or no opposition.

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