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Few Dallas County justices of the peace use court management software well, analyst reports

Caron Badkin
An analyst found that Dallas County justice of the peace courts are using the county's case management software well.

Only three of 10 Justices of the Peace and their clerks are "outstanding" at updating and maintaining court records with the Dallas County software.

That's according to an analyst's research of Odyssey, the software Dallas County uses for court case management.

All courts in the county must use the Odyssey software for case management, but operations analyst Roshanda Gallardo recently proposed a centralized pool of justice of the peace clerks get trained to improve document search and file efficiency.

That includes hiring or replacing JP court clerks.
North Dallas Precinct 3-1 Justice of the Peace Adam Swartz leads one of the commended courts, but said pooling clerks likely would not go well.

"There's folks from up here and Garland and West Dallas who just aren't going to drive downtown to work and then deal with the parking and the traffic to get paid less than a Chick-fil-A manager," he said.

He and other judges also suggest centralizing clerks may violate state Civil Practice and Remedies Sec. 15.099, which permits suits to be brought to any justice of the peace in the precinct.

Odyssey has been problematic since the software's launch last year. The case management software went live in May.

Since then, public and employee users have struggled with the case document search and file system.

Gallardo found that Justices Sasha Moreno in Precinct 4-2, Swartz and Katina Whitfield in 2-2 uses the system well. Moreno’s court has the fewest clerks and is doing the best job of the 10 precincts.

Gallardo recently offered improvement ideas based on the analysis.

“It most definitely has revealed our flaws as a justice court,” she told the Continuous Improvement Committee. “The clerical training is the big ‘Why?’ behind what we do. And we found that there is[sic] a lot of clerks that are missing that knowledge."

Precinct 4-1 Justice of the Peace Mike Jones Jr. said technology challenges and understaffing contribute to poor case management.

“I completely get what you're saying, but it's busy on my side,” he said. And if you come look at it, like I tell anybody else, I tell every court, come over. Come check it out. We streamline everything we can, and it's busy, you know?”

Commissioner John Wiley Price interrupted to disagree — noncompliance is a leadership problem, he said.

Got a tip? Email Marina Trahan Martinez at You can follow Marina at @HisGirlHildy.

KERA News is made possible through the generosity of our members. If you find this reporting valuable, consider making a tax-deductible gifttoday. Thank you.

Marina Trahan Martinez is KERA's Dallas County government accountability reporter. She's a veteran journalist who has worked in the Dallas area for many years. Prior to coming to KERA, she was on The Dallas Morning News Watchdog investigative and accountability team with Dave Lieber. She has written for The New York Times since 2001, following the 9/11 attacks. Many of her stories for The Times focused on social justice and law enforcement, including Botham Jean's murder by a Dallas police officer and her subsequent trial, Atatiana Jefferson's shooting death by a Fort Worth police officer, and protests following George Floyd's murder. Marina was part of The News team that a Pulitzer finalist for coverage of the deadly ambush of Dallas police officers in 2016.