Court Software is Blamed for Wrongful Arrests

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Many factors lead to wrongful arrests. Forensic evidence could be flawed, a witness may have identified the wrong suspect or sometimes pressure from interrogators leads to a false confession.

In Alameda County, California, a new and alarming problem has arisen. Case management software that was installed last year is being blamed on scores of wrongful arrests.

The issue was highlighted in a report in Slate. Alameda County invested in the new system in August 2016. It replaced a system that was more than 40-years old with Tyler Technologies’ Odyssey Case Manager, the report stated.

Local authorities and criminal justice agencies are doing the same thing across the country as case management systems become obsolete or unable to cope with the demands of the 21st Century.

These systems play an important part in the criminal justice system. If a judge issues an arrest warrant or recalls it, or a defendant posts bail, police rely upon the system to decide who to arrest, hold or release.

However, in Alameda County, the system has led to errors and wrongful arrests, Slate reported.

The $4.5 million system was labeled as “disaster” by a local TV station. The public defender said dozens of people were wrongly arrested due to glitches.

Defendants were detained in jail when they should have been released or mistakenly told to register as sex offenders.

In September, a 24-year-old man in Fremont was bewildered when four officers arrived at the home with a warrant to arrest him, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

The arrest warrant had previously been issued for his failure to appear in court on a drug possession charge but it had been dismissed months earlier. However, the warrant mistakenly remained active in the court’s Odyssey system, leading to his arrest.

Errors are occurring on a semi-daily basis, the local media reported. The Office of the Alameda County Public Defender has even filed hundreds of motions requesting the court to keep accurate records.

Alarmingly, the problem is not confined to Alameda County. Similar problems are reported in about 25 counties in California that use the Odyssey case management system.

Tyler states in its publicity that Odyssey systems are used in courts’ case management systems in a number of jurisdictions in Texas including Dallas County and Harris County.

In December, an activist group in Shelby County, Tennessee, alleged similar issues and filed a federal civil rights lawsuit.

If you are wrongly arrested due to a problem with a software system, you may not know your rights. You can’t always rely on the legal system to correct the error.

At Broden & Mickelsen, LLP, we are experienced Dallas criminal defense lawyers are dedicated to providing aggressive and ethical representation to individuals and businesses charged with crimes.