Floyd County Superior Court Clerk Barbara Penson

Floyd County Superior Court Clerk Barbara Penson reviews a printed document prior to inputting data into a new case management software system that is being designed for Rome and Floyd County. The eCourt system will become a template for implementation across the state once all of the wrinkles have been worked out. / Doug Walker

Superior Court Administrator Phil Hart said it appears as if most of the appropriate information has migrated successfully from the old "Sustain" system to the new "eCourt" system.

"The software we were using has not been updated since 1994. It's very antiquated, you can't interface anything with it," Penson said.

Since Floyd County could not afford $3-$5 million dollars for a new system, the state agreed to set aside some money to allow counties to be updated.

"We are the first county in the state to get this software, and when I say get it, we're building it as we go," Penson said.

She likened the process to building three homes at the same time. All of the data from juvenile, magistrate and superior courts are being inputted into the system.

"It's not a canned software, we're building it to what we need, so it's taking a lot of time," she said.

Penson also said it was a lot like moving grandma and grandpa into the basement.

“The old records are being migrated off of Sustain and Fortis, into these houses that we're building," she said.

The Georgia Administrative Office of the courts, Journal Technologies Inc. and Floyd County Information Technology people were working together all last week to get the new system up and running.

Her own staff has worked voluntarily each of the past two Saturdays to get information transferred from the old system to the new.

"It's so much easier when you don't have phones ringing and you don't have courts pulling on you," Penson said.

She said the new system will be more accessible, offer more opportunities to enter data, but — most importantly — will be able to smoothly interface with the Tracker system used by the District Attorney's office and the Zuercher system used at the Floyd County Jail.

The goal is ultimately to be able to seamlessly interface with other county courts across the state, she said. Hall County is likely going to be the next to undertake the complete overhaul of the case management software.

"The judges even have the opportunity to enter specific notes about a specific case and no one will ever see those notes. They have privacy settings. That's a highlight I think the judges really like," Penson said.

“It's costing Floyd County taxpayers zero," Penson said. "The stressful thing on us is that we're building it."

The implementation team, which has actually been in Rome most of the past two weeks including JTI people from Arizona, will be back in the courthouse Wednesday to try to iron out a few more wrinkles.

"Like everything, it's got some hiccups," Hart said.

Configurations that have been designed and implemented by the Floyd County courts will provide a template for the rest of the state.