Login | July 21, 2018

New case management system to link county, city offices

Technology for Lawyers

Published: August 18, 2017

Beginning Dec. 31, 2018, the law departments, public defender offices and law enforcement offices of Summit County and the cities of Akron, Barberton, Cuyahoga Falls, Stow and Tallmadge will all be connected by a new, comprehensive and powerful case management system.

The system, called MATRIX, will be designed and maintained by Matrix Pointe Software of Cleveland.

The county and local communities achieved this breakthrough via an inter-governmental agreement that was signed on July 24.

“The goal of this agreement is to bring our system into the digital age, in the most cost-effective way possible,” said Akron Mayor Daniel Horrigan. “This new software will improve our responsiveness to the attorneys, judges and others who need access to these criminal case files to ensure the effective administration of justice.”

Case management systems replace paper filing systems with digital files, which are then stored in a database. Those files may be shared by anyone who shares access to that database.

In the MATRIX case, those files will consist of court activities that will be shared among the prosecutors’ offices in those jurisdictions, many of which have obsolete systems or, in at least one case, still use paper files.

The county looked at a number of contenders for the contract, but Matrix stood out, said project director Christopher Kauffman of the county’s IT department.

“Matrix is an Ohio company that has a breadth of product offerings,” said Kauffman.

One selling point, he said was the fact that MATRIX is currently deployed in Cuyahoga and 14 other Ohio counties, as well as the state Attorney General’s office and the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI).

The total package includes something for everyone—digital files for all data, portals for each user and shared, secure storage at a central facility near Columbus.

And it is inexpensive compared to other solutions, said Kauffman.

After an initial setup fee of around $150,000, the cost for the entire system is less than $200,000 per year, which includes all data storage.

“The entire solution is hosted, so there is no equipment cost,” said Kauffman.

That storage is encrypted at every point in the system, making it as secure as possible, a spokesperson for Matrix said in a detailed email.

Kauffman said that the project originated when his department was approached by the Summit County prosecutor’s office whose system was 20 years old and increasingly inadequate in the digital world.

Although the project may have originated in county government, all of the participants, county and city, will receive benefits far beyond their shared costs.

One particular beneficiary is the Akron city prosecutor’s office, who “came late to the game,” said city prosecutor Gertrude Wilms.

“The county had been looking at something like this for a couple of years,” said Wilms, whose office still uses paper files and who said that alone it could not have afforded this kind of upgrade.

“We are glad that Matrix allowed a community purchase. This is a great opportunity.”

Wilms said that she is particularly happy that the public defender’s office will have instant access to files, both because that office is also not technologically up-to-date and because the secretaries charged with copying and sending discovery requests will have their workloads decreased substantially.

As with any legal software, MATRIX emphasizes security.

For those interested in the technology, a Matrix email forwarded by Kaufman provides a few details.

All of the data, stored or in transit, is encrypted to a 256-bit (military) standard. There will be full backups once per week, all encrypted, with differentials taken daily, log backups every 15 minutes, volume snapshots taken every six hours, and file data backed up hourly.

The entire system will be monitored in real time.

Beyond the encryption, the entire system and each of its parts will be password-protected and the data traffic from the local systems to the data storage is further secured by technical means that keep unauthorized users from “listening in” while the data is in transit.

Each location will be individually configured, said Kauffman, who also noted that, outside of fact that new hardware will not be needed simply to run this program, there are certainly older systems in place that may need to be upgraded in and of themselves.