BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The East Baton Rouge Metro Council voted Wednesday to hold off on a proposal to improve technology at City Court.
Some council members and local judges said they want to see the improvements expanded beyond just City Court to create a parish-wide network database that would connect with the DA's Office and the 19th District Judicial Court.
"For us to be just looking at one, I don't think we should be doing it that way," said Councilwoman C. Denise Marcelle, who proposed deferring the City Court proposal.
"I like collaborative effort and I think that we should look across the board and see how we can unify that," she said.
City Court representatives said they cannot wait and need to start working on a new system now.
"Trying to build a system that covers ever court system is going to take a long time, and I don't know if we have that time to be quite frank," said Lynn Maloy with the City Court.
The current database at the City Court is 20 years old. Maloy said the databases have broken down at least twice so far this year.
Still, some council members and judges said an expanded network connecting many courts is worth waiting before because it would allow the different courts to work together. For example, they said it would allow a judge in City Court to see if a suspect has outstanding warrants in other courts.
"At the end of the night, when we're setting bonds, we need to have one technology," said State District Judge Janice Clark with 19th District Judicial Court. "Technology cannot be for one part and parcel of the third branch of government. It's going to have to be for the entire judiciary."
City Court leaders said the database would help reduce wait times at the court while also creating an online portal the public could access.
"We're trying to speed it up for the public to have a faster system, more information and access," Maloy said.
The upgrades at City Court would cost between $500,000 and $1 million. Annual maintenance fees would add another $200,000 to the cost.
The upgrade would be paid for with a $5 service fee levied on some criminal, traffic and civil matters.
The council and court leaders now have 30 days to see whether it is possible to expand the program beyond City Court.