Tarrant County Computer Glitch Fails to Notify Some Defendants of Court Dates

County leaders say problem is limited, 'growing pains' of improved system

A new computer system at the Tarrant County Courthouse is failing to notify some people about court dates and when they don’t show up, warrants are being issued for their arrest, according to several defense attorneys.

County administrators admit there is a problem but say it affects a small number of cases.

"They switched over to a new system, wherever it came from, and it's been nothing but a blunder ever since," said defense attorney Kathy Lowthorp.

Lowthorp didn't know of any cases in which innocent people have actually ended up in jail, but said it's possible when clients miss court hearings they never know about.

Another attorney, Steven Ditomasso, said he's experienced the same problem of not getting notified about upcoming court dates.

"It freaks our clients out," he said. "If they're not receiving it, we're not receiving it, nobody is showing up. And they're getting their bonds revoked and they're getting warrants issued. When a client finds out that a warrant is issued, you know, they're upset, naturally."

Lawyers say the new software is having trouble with other things too -- like blocking off time when they are on vacation or busy in trials in other courts.

They say the old system handled such issues just fine.

County administrators say the new software will be a big improvement once it's working and that the glitch is intermittent and not widespread.

"When it gets to the point its functional, it’ll be so much better than it was," said Tarrant County Administrator G.K. Maenius. "These are just growing pains."

Tarrant County District Clerk Tom Wilder said he is not sure how many cases have been affected but described the problem as intermittent.

"There are technical people working on it so we hope to have this thing righted," he said. "I know there's been a lag in the updates. That much has been identified. That's the cause of some of it."

County leaders are holding weekly meetings to address the issues, he said.

The computer software, called TechShare, is being developed by Tarrant County in cooperation with other counties through a nonprofit called the Texas Conference of Urban Counties.

The group's executive director, John Dahill, did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

The software has already stirred a controversy in Dallas County after commissioners complained about spending millions of dollars for software that didn't work, the Dallas Morning News reported.

In February, Dallas County paused spending more money on the project, the News reported.

In May, Dallas County Commissioners said they had lost control of the project and were locked in a battle with Tarrant County after pausing spending on the software.

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