By Robert Lewis
rlewis@sacbee.com
Published: Sunday, Apr. 11, 2010 – 12:00 am | Page 3A

Court administrators are jockeying with disgruntled judges for the support of lawmakers who will help determine the fate of a statewide computer system as budget season begins.

On Wednesday, the Administrative Office of the Court demonstrated to legislators the Court Case Management System, a project to link courts statewide.

“We decided to do the demonstration for legislative staff so they’d be familiar with the program as we get into the budget process and they realize how important it is for the California courts,” said Philip Carrizosa, a spokesman for the AOC.

The day before, several Sacramento Superior Court judges held a press briefing to discuss problems with the system and question the price tag. A Bee analysis in October 2009 found the total project cost could reach $2 billion.

Both events came a week before an Assembly budget subcommittee is scheduled to discuss the judiciary’s funding.

The state auditor is scheduled to launch a review of the computer project this month. The AOC is projecting to spend $46.8 million on the computer system next fiscal year.

The project started in 2002 as a modest effort to upgrade the computer systems in several Southern California counties but ballooned into a statewide venture. Ronald George, chief justice of the state Supreme Court, has said the system is vital to unifying the courts statewide.

Some judges, however, began assailing the cost of the project last summer after judicial branch leadership started closing state courts one day a month to save money.

Deloitte Consulting is developing the system. Several courts, including Sacramento, are running early versions.

Some Sacramento judges on Tuesday complained about numerous glitches and questioned the contract with Deloitte.

The warranty on the current phase of the project expired before the system went live, Judge Trena Burger-Plavan said. As a result, Deloitte charged the AOC to fix numerous defects.

Carrizosa said there was testing before the warranty expired and the current contract calls for Deloitte to provide maintenance and support hours annually. The contract included 59,209 hours in 2009. The AOC pays for fixes beyond the contracted hours and spent about $6.3 million on such work since 2008, Carrizosa said.

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