Newly filed court records and past rulings are now online.

After a delay, Jay Superior and Circuit courts made the transition to statewide database Odyssey Case Management System in August, bringing it up to date with almost every other court in the state.

Anyone can now access public records such as court rulings, length of sentencing and information on pending charges and convictions at Cases can be searched by name of parties involved, date or case number.

Most cases with documents filed or rulings before Aug. 24, the day the courts finalized the transition, will not have downloadable court documents. Current cases, convictions, dismissals and other information should be listed in the online database regardless of when it was filed. Any Jay County case with a new update in court on or after Aug. 24 should have downloadable documents that are considered public record, such as sentencing information, court rulings and more.

“It’s important to have it,” Jay Circuit Court Judge Brian Hutchison said. “Everything is so accessible now.”

When court is in session, Hutchison and Jay Superior Court Judge Max Ludy each have a laptop on hand they can use to search records through a special version of Odyssey reserved for judges.

“Everything is paperless now for the most part,” Ludy said.

The judge, however, described the program as “terribly slow” and offered his opinion that the courts shouldn’t have transitioned to the program until after the coronavirus pandemic is over.

Ludy said the courts were originally supposed to transition to Odyssey in March from its old database system, known as the Computer System Information program, but, as with most other things, the viral pandemic delayed that transition.

The judge did note the county will be saving thousands of dollars a year from switching to Odyssey. Jay County paid for the old database annually while Odyssey is funded and provided by the state.

Jay County auditor Anna Culy said the county paid around $33,500 for the Computer System Information program in 2019. That program will still be used by the recorder’s office, Culy said, so the county will still have to pay for at least some of that tab.

Hutchison said the Indiana Supreme Court first began discussing transitioning to a statewide database near the turn of the century. Odyssey was launched first in late 2007 in the courts of Monroe County and in the Washington Township Small Claims Court in Marion County with Indiana courts continuing to make the transition ever since.

The state made the transition in an effort to address several issues, including a lack of consistency in data systems across the state, outdated technology, an inability to manage court documents in previous systems and the lack of access to court records by law enforcement agencies, state agencies, other courts, lawyers and the public.

Jay County’s courts are among the last in the state to make the transition. Hutchison said his philosophy when transitioning to a new program is to wait until the bugs are worked out first. Odyssey, however, has made his job easier, he said, and the court reporters and other staff members at the Jay County Courthouse are getting used to it.