By Aimee Hancock
TROY — Miami County Commissioners heard from the county prosecutor’s office Tuesday regarding the department’s need for an up-to-date case management system.
According to Assistant Prosecutor Paul Watkins, prior to 1999, the prosecutor’s office operated via a system of filed index cards. That year, the department began utilizing a now-antiquated electronic management system, which looked similar to Excel spreadsheets.
“The only thing (this system) allows us to do is to track, electronically, the cases that we have in our office and where they are in the process,” Watkins said.
Prior to the era of COVID-19, Watkins said he and County Prosecutor Tony Kendell began an ongoing discussion regarding the need to bring the office into the 21st century with a modern management system. Since the beginning of the pandemic, which has brought about many changes to both personal and work life across the board, the need for an updated system has grown even more.
After consulting other county offices to inquire about different software available, Watkins said he and Kendell decided the best option would be to go with Matrix Pointe Software/MatrixProsecutor. This is a web-based, comprehensive prosecutor case management system designed to meet all case requirements from intake through appeal.
“Matrix would allow us to run the office more effectively and more efficiently. It would allow us, at the click of a button, to know exactly where every case is in the process,” Watkins said, noting that this software is used by about 50 county prosecutor’s offices in Ohio.
This system would also allow for accuracy, as it leaves less room for human error given its automation functionality, Watkins said, and would provide “standard forms” for each court.
All documents traveling through the prosecutor’s office would be scanned and easily accessed by staff. This can be done remotely to allow for more efficient work-from-home opportunities, as needed, Watkins said. The system would also provide convenience for staff when preparing documents for public records requests.
“Most importantly, would be management of the office. (Kendell) would have real-time oversight of every criminal case and every civil case in our office,” Watkins said.
According to Watkins, the cost of initial implementation and training for the Matrix system would be $45,000, along with a yearly fee of $42,000 for maintenance. This is compared to a second option, Equivant, which would cost $249,000 initially, and $18,000 yearly.
According to Kendell, the initial $45,000 implementation and training fee for the Matrix system may qualify to be paid via COVID-19 funds due to the program’s facilitation of remote work access.
Kendell also noted his office recently switched from using Westlaw, an online legal research service for lawyers and legal professionals, to Lexis legal research service. Over a three-year period, this will provide a cost savings of over $100,000, Kendell said, allowing the money from this savings to go toward payment of the yearly maintenance fee for the Matrix system.
Also during Tuesday’s meeting:
• A bid hearing was held for the Ziegler Road bridge replacement project. The engineer’s estimate for the project is $280,000. The following bids were received: Brumbaugh Construction Inc., of Arcanum, $297,557; Durst Bros Excavating, of Tipp City, $272,437.81; J&J Schlaegel Inc., of Urbana, $274,827.88; and Sturm Construction, of Sidney, $338,000. Bids were submitted to the engineer for consideration, with award deferred to a later date.
• Commissioners approved the disposal by sale of county radios and accessory equipment. The sale will take place at the 2021 Miami County Amateur Radio Club Swap Meet and HamFest on Sept. 18, 2021, at 728 Harrison St., in Troy. Proceeds will go to the Emergency Management Agency, as requested by EMA Director Joel Smith. Said items are no longer needed for public use, are obsolete, or are unfit for the use for which they were acquired due to being 14 to 31 years old and having been replaced by new radio equipment in January of this year. The fair market value of each item is less than $2,500.
• Commissioners held an executive session to discuss personnel/compensation with no action taken.