Judge's Corner

Article Index

Judicial Challenges The Honorable Janet Stauffer, 7th Judicial Circuit (August/September 2017)

Use of Fictitious Names for Parties in Civil Litigation in Oregon The Honorable James Hargreaves (Senior Judge, retired), Lane County Circuit Court (June/July 2017)

The Judge's Pledge The Honorable Susan Tripp, Marion County Circuit Court (May/June 2017)

Organizing for the Courtroom The Honorable Daniel R. Murphy, Linn County Circuit Court (March/April 2017)

A Two Year Journey with Odyssey in Juvenile Court The Honorable Lindsay Partridge, Marion County Circuit Court (January/February 2017)

Lane County Streamlined Jury Trial Project The Honorable Curtis Conover, Lane County Circuit Court (November/December 2016)

20 Ways to Further Justice The Honorable Ilisa Rooke-Ley, Lane County Circuit Court (October/November 2016)

Managing Multi-Party/Complex Litigation without Driving Your Judge Crazy (and maybe even making it easier for everyone) The Honorable Henry Kantor, Multnomah County Circuit Court (September 2016)

Managing Multi-Party/Complex Litigation without Driving the Judge's Staff Crazy The Honorable Eve L. Miller, Clackamas County Circuit Court (August 2016)

Do's and Don'ts in the Courtroom The Honorable Lisa Greif, Jackson County Circuit Court (June/July 2016)

Preparation for a Status, Case Management, or Pretrial conference - or how to get more out of a non-evidentiary proceeding in criminal and family court cases The Honorable Kirsten E. Thompson, Washington County Circuit Court (April/May 2016)

Postponements The Honorable Richard Barron, Presiding Judge, Coos/Curry County Circuit Court (March 2016)

Consider Trying More Cases The Honorable Suzanne Chanti, Lane County Circuit Court Judge (February 2016)

Professionalism - It Counts Both In and Out of the Courtroom The Honorable Brian Dretke, Union County Circuit Court Judge (January 2016)

Changes to Sex Changes The Honorable Beth A. Allen, Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge (December 2015)

Top 25 Tips from a Senior Judge The Honorable Michael C. Sullivan, Senior Judge (retired), Deschutes County (November 2015)

How to Succeed at Power Point In the Courtroom The Honorable Michael McShane, US District Court (October 2015)

Effective Use of Evidence At Jury Trial The Honorable Matthew Donohue, Benton County Circuit Court (September 2015)

Making a Record for Appeal, The Honorable Charles M. Zennaché, Lane County Circuit Court (August 2015)

Access to Civil Justice in Oregon's State Courts, The Honorable David Brewer, Associate Justice, Oregon Supreme Court (July 2016)

What Jurors Want: A Look Into the Minds of Jurors, The Honorable John V. Acosta, United States Magistrate Judge (June 2015)

Handling the "Half-se" Hearing, The Honorable Mustafa Kasubhai, Lane County Circuit Court (May 2015)

Effective Voir Dire, Judge Thomas Hart, Marion County Circuit Court (April 2015)

The New Judge on the Block, Judge Lung S. Hung, Malheur County Circuit Court (March 2015)

The Gift of Finality: One PJ's Perspective, Judge Karsten H. Rasmussen, Lane County Circuit Court (February 2015)

ORCP 68 Attorney Fees - when, why and how to seek them, Judge Deanne L. Darling, Clackamas Juvenile Court (January 2015)

Difficult questions must be answered before they are asked, Judge Edward J. Jones, Multnomah County Circuit Court (December 2014)

Judicially Hosted Settlement Conferences, Judge Jamese L. Rhoades and Sr. Judge Don Dickey, Marion County Circuit Court (November 2014)

Working together to make discovery more efficient, The Honorable Youlee Yim You, Multnomah County Circuit Court (October 2014)

Court Trials - A Jury of One, The Honorable Katherine E. Tennyson, Multnomah County Circuit Court (September 2014)

Making the Most of Short Evidentiary Hearings, The Honorable Daniel R. Murphy, Linn County Circuit Court (August 2014)

Vouching, The Honorable Jay McAlpin, Lane County Circuit Court (July 2014)

Appropriate Jury Instructions Can Help Litigators Win Trials, The Honorable Paula Brownhill, Clatsop County Circuit Court (June 2014)

Evidentiary Hearings and Motion Practice in the era of Oregon e-court, The Honorable Benjamin Bloom, Jackson County Circuit Court (May 2014)

Motions in Limine - Tips for "Newer" Litigators, The Honorable Jodie Mooney, Lane County Circuit Court (April 2014)

The Honorable Lindsay Partridge
Marion County Circuit Court
(January/February 2017)

A Two Year Journey with Odyssey in Juvenile Court

In December, 2014, Marion County courts converted to Odyssey including juvenile court where I preside. Over the last two years, I have witnessed many positive changes from the implementation, but Odyssey has created some new challenges as well. The purpose of this article is to highlight my observations about the impact on Odyssey in juvenile court – and in particular during court proceedings. The thoughts that follow are mine alone – and perhaps are subject to criticism due to my ongoing challenge to adapt to technological changes.

The Upgrades

Storage. As advertised, Odyssey greatly reduced physical storage needs. This benefit will become even more significant into the future – ask yourself where would all the papers files become stored in 2035 if the courts didn't convert? Additionally, court staff can take their physical therapist off their speed dial as Odyssey has relieved staff of the daily duty to gather voluminous files, transfer files to the bench and refile after court. In juvenile court this change is particularly beneficial. In the past, one child's case could produce a paper file a foot thick as it contained all documents covering their entire childhood. A single file and case number contained all petitions and associated documents regardless of the number of dependency or delinquency petitions filed from birth to majority. With Odyssey a click of a mouse now enables the judge to access the same information.

Access to information. Juvenile court judges now can access more complete information about parties. The information may relate to other juvenile court cases involving the parents, criminal matters and domestic relations cases. In addition, Odyssey allows a judge to access statewide information much easier than in OJIN. Odyssey also allows the court to review actual documents relating to cases. Such information provides a judge an opportunity to gain a more complete picture of a family and to coordinate case planning with other juvenile court judges.

Electronic notes. Attorneys may not be aware that Odyssey contains a provision known as Judge Edition. Judge Edition allows judges to make notes about each court event – either during or after the court session. Of course, judges could make notes under the paper file system, but one problem was the legibility of such notes. Let's just say that perhaps only the medical profession has worse handwriting than the legal profession. (I confess Mrs. Miller from second grade would be aghast to see my handwriting today). Judge Edition allows for organized and legible information for a judge in the future to get a quick feel for the history of a child and family. This aspect is extremely beneficial as a child may be subject to a number of legal proceedings over their childhood and many different judges may preside over various court events affecting the child. The ability of a judge to look over the history of the child's legal events places the judge in a better position to make decisions.

Needs Improvement

Odyssey is S * * L ** O ** W. In a race between the tortoise and the hare – Odyssey comes in a distant third. A juvenile docket often consists of many cases scheduled back to back during the same court session and requires the judge to efficiently move through a number of cases in a given amount of time. The court's ability to process cases efficiently requires prompt access to information like pending petitions, prior judgments and notes in Judge Edition. Under the Odyssey system, cases often are delayed in court while the court waits for case information to load. The delay is more pronounced if multiple cases are associated with the same family or individual. The delay results in parties staring at the judge, while the judge is held hostage by a spinning wheel of death on the computer screen.

Multiple case numbers. A significant difference between juvenile court cases and other court case types is the length of time a child or family is involved with the court system. It is common for a child to have a court proceeding that dates back a decade or more from the current court event. Judges often preside over cases where children who first came to juvenile court as a dependent ward later become the subject of delinquency petitions. Prior to Odyssey, each child had a single case file and a single case number during their entire childhood. The judge had one file that contained all information regarding the child - regardless of the number of dependency or delinquency petitions.

Odyssey requires the court to assign a new case number each time the state files a new dependency or delinquency petition. Additionally, in a dependency case involving multiple siblings, each sibling has a different petition and case number. Matters often get further complicated because various siblings may have different parents (usually fathers), and different parents may have separate petitions. Therefore, a judge could review a case that could include in excess of 10 case numbers.

In order to access all the previous notes for the children in Judge Edition, Odyssey requires the court to group the cases together electronically. In attempting to access case data in open court, the judge must wait for Odyssey to load all cases. During a court session, this delay brings the court docket to a screeching halt. Additionally, dealing with multiple petitions and multiple case numbers requires the judge to bounce from case to case to review petitions and other documents. Switching between cases again delays court proceedings as everyone waits for Odyssey to make the new information from a separate case magically appear on a computer screen.

Potential for loss of personal connection. In my opinion, an effective juvenile court judge seeks to foster a connection between the judge and parties. Judges must ensure the rights of parties are protected, yet hold parents and youth actionable for their decisions. In many cases, these individuals suffer from substance abuse, past trauma and mental illness. It is important for the judge to encourage and support parents and youth in making needed changes.

This goal is hampered by a judge who constantly stares at a computer screen during court proceedings. Often I must remind myself that acquiring every piece of data may not be as important as demonstrating concern and respect for parties. Judges must remain conscious of the need to meaningfully interact with parties. The integrity of the judicial system requires that participants feel they are heard and respected. Staring at a computer screen like a teenager playing Xbox threatens this duty. The access to information cannot undermine access to justice.

Odyssey has provided judges unprecedented access to information and is a tremendous tool in increasing court efficiency now and into the future. However, we must remind ourselves that access to case data cannot undermine access to justice as we embrace technological change.

 

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