The precarious position of Sustain & The Daily Journal Corporation

Posted on November 2, 2011

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Good Morning California,

One of the YenWire connected entities tossed some of the following information online as informational background, indicating they would not be writing a story on it because they promised the source that wouldn’t attempt to promote an already existing, viable solution. That didn’t make any sense to us so we picked through the informational background to produce this story…..

I want to lead you on an escapade…

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While the AOC embarks on the development of re-inventing the wheel with CCMS, Judicial Council Watcher would be derelict in not reporting about another product that already competes head on with CCMS,  has most of the capabilities promised by CCMS in a package that is available and highly configurable to any court in California today. In fact, that product called Sustain can be found already deployed in a third of all courts across California and already managed by the AOC.

About half of the courts that use Sustain use a dos based version that they bought and own the license to. Those courts, together with the AOC pay for maintenance and support for the dos version even today. A second version called Sustain Justice Edition is a later windows based version that is licensed to the court – much in the same manner that many other software products are licensed to any judicial branch entity. A third version called eCourt is completely web-centric and competes head on with CCMS and has all of the capabilities today that the AOC is promising will be delivered years from now in CCMS.

So why don’t you hear much about this product and why doesn’t the AOC consider it over CCMS since upgrading in a third of California’s courts today to eCourt would be almost effortless?

Enter the Daily Journal Corporation, a well respected legal publication whose many articles written about CCMS typically point out in the interests of maintaining neutrality and objectivity that Sustain eCourt , a product that would otherwise compete with CCMS is owned by the Daily Journal Corporation.

So why does it not compete?

Remember how over a year ago the AOC released a sham RFP for maintenance services that excluded most everyone except the largest of large contractors to bid on courthouse maintenance? Do you recall how we pointed out that the first go around with the contractors years ago attracted nearly three dozen bidders whereas the sham RFP when initially released really only defined about three companies out of the dozen or so companies that submitted letters of interest? Do you vaguely recall that the modifications to the RFP that made it less egregious only happened after potential bidders ponied up letters of intent?

This is also the issue with case management systems. The AOC RFP at the time defined that only the largest IT c0nsulting firms in the country would produce CCMS at the exclusion of all other alternatives, including every case management system developer in existence, including one of the largest, Sustain owned by the Daily Journal Corporation.

With an already installed base in about 1/3 of the California Court system, it remains the case management system of choice for many new courts as well as many courts combining their case management operations like Plumas and Sierra Counties. It works today. The reason you don’t hear a whole lot about Sustain or eCourt and its capabilities is that DJC is in a precarious position with respect to the Judicial Council and the AOC. They can’t just come out and publish a truthful comparison between the two products in part because CCMS remains vaporware and in part because the AOC and the courts are already a very large customer of Sustain.  It is better to have the revenue you have than the revenue you don’t, so they’re not about to rock the boat and promote eCourt as a commercial off the shelf solution to all that ails CCMS.

Yet it’s there, a Sustain product is installed in a third of the states courts and it works today.

Complicating the matters and muddying the waters is other media organizations, some of whom are competitors of the Daily Journal Corporation who also won’t promote their competitors’ commercial off the shelf software solution already in use by a third of this states courts. We would implore all of those media organizations to reevaluate their positions, contact other courts that use Sustain or eCourt already, explore those costs and compare them to the often promised, yet never delivered CCMS. In our informational missive it indicates that the State Bar Court could run on eCourt “for a couple hundred grand tops”

Compare this to Joe Dunn’s proposal to have another custom module developed for CCMS while he forwards 4.5+ million of state bar funds to the AOC to develop a CCMS module for the State Bar Court.

Reinventing the wheel seems to be a popular past time at the AOC and now maybe even the state bar.

The missive also explains that eCourt is ready to be configured today for any court with all of the customization and ongoing maintenance for a fraction of the costs that it will cost the AOC to support CCMS for years to come. Why? The AOC is dealing with a consultant direct that is and has been milking them for their ignorance. A company like Sustain has no interests in milking clients. They have a viable case management product already and simply want good referrals to expand their installed base of customers without making any waves with their largest customer in California – and that would be the AOC.

More information: http://www.sustain.net/eCourt.html