In Dallas County, "I Couldn't Find the Courtroom" Is a Legit Excuse for Missing Court

Thumbnail image for crowley_bldg2.jpg
Who knew the Crowley Courthouse was so tough to navigate.
If you think "I couldn't find the courtroom" is a terrible excuse for failing to show up to one's criminal trial, you're right. But in Dallas County, more often than you'd think, it's legitimate. That's not just according to the defendants but to County Clerk John Warren, who says as much in a memo to county commissioners in advance of tomorrow's meeting:

For many years, we have had the issue of providing court docket information for litigants in the criminal courts. As a result of the inability to display court docket information, some defendants have been lost or failed to appear and has resulted in a warrant being issued this has also caused the judge in the criminal courts to recall the warrant. It has created additional work for both the clerk's staff as well as that of the judge.

All is a direct result of the defendant not being able to easily find the court to which they are to appear.

The proposed solution is simple -- so simple, you wonder why it wasn't implemented years ago. Warren is proposing installation of four digital screens that will display party name and hearing information. Costs all of $8,500. Similar screens have proven successful at courthouses in Collin, Travis, and Harris counties, not to mention every airport ever.

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8 comments
kristi
kristi

Maybe they should print directions on the summons too, since not only do people not know where the courtroom is, many don't know where the criminal courts building is.  I can't tell you how often I'm asked where Frank Crowley is when I'm walking into George Allen at 9am. 

Gat2KeepOnMovin
Gat2KeepOnMovin

A computer capable of this costs less than $100.  Do you have a government contract or something? Please tell me where the rest of thee $8400 comes from. Wiring? "Licenses"? LOL. No. It comes from throwing away our money on fancy overpriced toys when something far less expensive would do the job just fine.

Renegade
Renegade

See, you would have gotten lost looking for JWP-- he'll be at the federal courthouse, not the county/district criminal courthouse.  They should run a JWP banner on the new digital screens, so everyone knows his proceedings are in a different building. 

Ed D.
Ed D.

You're paying for hardware (monitors, computers to drive the monitors, networking, etc.), installation, display software, and setup. Plus somebody has to write the custom software to transfer that data from the court's calendars to the display system. The market for systems like this is small so you're not going to find it for 99 cents in the app store.

Gat2KeepOnMovin
Gat2KeepOnMovin

No.. really... it does not require anything complicated or expensive to grab some data from a database and put it on a display... Hell.. you could do it with wordpress.

NewsDog
NewsDog

But trains run on pretty much fixed schedules. You don't try the same case in the same court on the same day every week.

Gat2KeepOnMovin
Gat2KeepOnMovin

Considering train stations managed to convey this information going back 100+ years.. I somehow doubt the technology really costs all that much.. It's just more bloated government spending to give a handout to some preferred contractor. You could give a list  to the guards that stand around doing nothing but collecting Obama bucks all day and it wouldn't cost anything.

Gat2KeepOnMovin
Gat2KeepOnMovin

Low? It sounds like $500 worth of hardware(or some recycled crap from the trash) and $8000 worth of kickback/commission.  It's not like it requires some kind of advanced technology to display some names and times from a database on a screen. 

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