For years, a failed plan has kept Dallas County courts in the dark ages when it comes to keeping track of court cases by computer.
Now, FOX 4 has learned that after investing millions, Dallas County may soon decide to walk away from the TechShare program. The county is now looking to possibly move to a different system.
Dallas County commissioners recently received a confidential report by consultants hired to assess TechShare's viability. Consultants told the county it will never get the court computer system it's already paid tens of millions of dollars for.
“What many of you may not know is we have recently been run over, absolutely bullied by the new TechShare body,” said Dallas County Commissioner J.J. Koch.
The idea originally sounded like a good one. Instead of paying a company for court software, the county could create its own and then sell it to other counties. The plan was called TechShare. But $30 million later, Dallas County has no courts software to show for it.
“It is a crime that we are trusting our future to people who have no business experience in the business we are asking them to be expert at,” Koch said.
And now to make matters worse, Koch explained at commissioner's court that the county has no voting control over TechShare through a new partnership.
“In the new body, essentially Tarrant County has decided that our $30 million does not count,” he said.
While Dallas County has invested nearly twice as much as Tarrant County, the new governing board gives Tarrant County nearly two-thirds of the voting strength on TechShare decisions while Dallas County only has 25 percent.
“How are you going to tell me that $30 million just evaporates?” asked Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price.
“We face a ruthless manipulator in Judge Glen Whitley,” Koch said.
Judge Glen Whitley said that Dallas County lost its voting strength by refusing to pay $600,000 in maintenance and operation fees. The county decided to not pay for operation of software that does not exist.
Koch contends that the voting weight should still be based on the county's capital investment.
“No way you can allow county tax dollars to pay for something that you don't have,” he said. “We have been robbed and run over. What’s worse? We are now going forward extremely vulnerable.”
Dallas County is planning to stick with the TechShare programs developed previously with the juvenile, prosecutor, and indigent systems. The county is keeping its legal options open to try to recover the $30 million lost on the courts system.
In the meantime, the commissioners will consider looking at other private software vendors at their next meeting.