Indiana Supreme Court system looks to streamline warrant info

A Marion County Superior Court is using the system to send statewide alerts for protective orders.

INDIANAPOLIS - Employers across the state - including the City of Indianapolis - don't always know if they're hiring a "wanted" person.  The task is complicated because Indiana Court records are kept in more than 20 different ways.

13 Investigates examines how the state's highest court is trying to make warrants easier to find.

The bright red "W" next to the name on a computer screen says something employers, judges and law enforcement might want to know:

Mr. Smith is wanted on an outstanding warrant for robbery.

"We have judges tell us they have a defendant before them and they can see on the Odyssey system that that defendant is wanted in another county,and it's not showing up on other systems," said Kathryn Dolan, Public Information Officer for the Indiana Supreme Court.

100 courts in 35 counties are now providing everything from murder charges to speeding ticket information through the Indiana Supreme Court's online Odyssey program.

To date it provides free access to more than 7 million court records.

"34 percent of the state's new caseload is on Odyssey," Dolan told 13 Investigates.

But for nearly two-thirds of the state, criminal records, warrants and other pertinent court information is spread out among 20 different systems.

"20 different systems that are maintaining court information in our state and we know that's not the way to do business," explained Dolan.

Small claims courts in all the local townships are already linked up to Odyssey. Another Marion County Superior Court is using the system to send statewide alerts for protective orders.

But that's where it stops for now.

Thirty-eight Marion County judges in Marion County are now trying to determine if Odyssey could handle all of data of the largest court systems in the state.

Just days ago, 13 Investigates discovered Arthur Johnson IV was wanted on an outstanding warrant in Lake County at the same time the City of Indianapolis hired him to work as a cashier at Code Enforcement.

It turns out criminal arrest warrants from across the state don't show up on background checks performed by the city's vendor.

Johnson is now wanted for allegedly stealing $20,000 in permit fees from the city.

"If there is an open warrant for someone, for their arrest at that particular time, that would not show up?" asked 13 Investigates.

"That would not show up," answered Manners. He says the city's policy limiting background checks to criminal convictions is driven by cost, but a policy that could be revisited.

The State Supreme Court is not mandating participation in Odyssey but is working with a goal to link all 92 counties at some point, recognizing that more data creates a better site.

The system is paid for by federal grants and an automated record keeping fee charged to those who file certain records. That fee is $5 for online counties.