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New court system cuts online access

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The new case management system adopted grudgingly by Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court will still allow public access to driving-while-intoxicated and domestic violence case searches online, even though other cases will be harder to find.

The court switched to the “Odyssey” case management system Friday. The system is already used by other courts in the state.

Other cases accessible to the public online will be felony cases less than two years old and misdemeanor cases going back five years. For older cases, the public will have to visit the courthouse in person.

A Journal story on Saturday failed to report the exception for domestic violence and DWI cases, which means they are not restricted to the two-year or five-year limit.

The story also left the impression that Metro Court had decided to make the change, when in fact it was a decision by the Administrative Office of the Courts. Metro Court Chief Judge Julie Altwies said at a recent press conference that judges are concerned, according to KRQE-TV.

“There are a thousand reasons people need to have information about prior cases,” she said. “Not to mention that the judges need it.”

Altweis did not respond to Journal calls for either the original story or this story.

The switch comes at the cost of online public access, said Greg Williams, an attorney for the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government.

The old system, “AS-400,” has been used for several decades and has been prone to lapses, Arthur Pepin, director of the state Administrative Office of the Courts, has said. He said Odyssey will not carry older cases because of the time and money that would be required.

Williams said Monday even though DWI and domestic violence cases will still be available online, the vast reduction in the amount of other information harms the public interest.

“FOG understands that it is the (Administrative Office of the Courts) and not the Metro Court that is making the decision regarding removing access from the old computer system,” Williams said. “Regardless of the decision maker, our interest is in maintaining access to the records.”

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