Computer system outage causes delays for Harris County Court system

July 19, 2013 5:03:07 PM PDT
Computer problems plagued the criminal courts in Houston for most of the day Friday.

From about midnight until about 3pm, the entire computer system that runs the Harris County Criminal Justice system was down, causing plenty of headaches at the courthouse and the jail.

Outside the Harris County Jail, Bridgette Flowers patiently waited for her twin sister to be released.

"I just talked to her actually and she's been sitting in the release tank for over 20 hours, just waiting to get out," Flowers said.

Her release, as well as the processing of hundreds of inmates, was put on hold through most of the day because the computers that run the entire Harris County Criminal Justice System, called JIMS, malfunctioned around midnight.

"What happened with the system going down is to protect the integrity of the data and the data is all up to the minute that it went down," explained Bruce High with the Harris County Information Technology Center.

High and his team immediately tried to fix the problem. But all day Friday, inmates couldn't be moved in or out, standard court dockets couldn't be generated and even jury selection was affected.

Defense attorney Cheryl Irvin said, "There were some court rooms that were getting ready to have a jury panel seated, and I think they sent them home because they couldn't do a background on those jurors to make sure they didn't have any criminal cases themselves."

After 15 hours of outage, the system was finally fixed just after 3pm. As the various parts of the justice system got back online, Flowers hoped her wait to see her sister was nearly over.

"I'm hoping," she said. "I've been here all day. I'm not going to leave."

There were some continued delays as everything worked back to normal operations, but all systems were up and running.

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