$144 Million Class Action Lawsuit Filed Over Shelby County Justice System's Computer Problems

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) - Shelby County has just been slapped with a $144 million class action lawsuit. This is the third lawsuit over the county's problem plagued jail and courthouse computer system.

In this new lawsuit, 30 people say they were kept in jail for days and weeks longer than they should have, or literally got lost in the system. They blame the computer system that was installed more than a year ago.

"It doesn't affect you until your baby is in jail," said attorney Patrick Brooks. Brooks is one the attorney's representing a long list of people who say the computer problems at the jail caused them big problems. 

Here are two examples from the recent lawsuit: 

After arresting a woman last fall for not paying City of Bartlett court costs, police tried arresting her three additional times the next month, after she had paid. The invalid arrest warrant stayed in the system for three months.

In another instance, a man landed in the Shelby County jail not once, but twice because of the computer problem. In April, he was arrested and spent more than a day in jail before jailers discovered there wasn't a warrant for his arrest. The computer system "had mixed him up for someone else" with a similar name. Two months later, it happened again. This time it took three days to clear up the mistake because jailers couldn't pull him up in the computer system.

Brooks says the problem isn't limited to the jail. He says for the past year, it's permeated the entire court system. "There have been problems, ever since the county installed a $10 million court computer system in October 2016, which is why there are now three lawsuits. "

Travis Boyd is part of the second lawsuit. He was arrested during a party at his house. Under the law, bond has to be set within 48 hours of your arrest. Boyd sat in jail a week before the computer system even showed he was there. He literally got lost in the system, and he lost his job and then charges were dropped during his first court appearance.

“It was like it was a waste of taxpayer money," said Boyd.

The most recent lawsuit estimates there could be as many as 1000 people who were wrongfully detained an average of three days.

Given the computer problems are still happening, critics wonder if it will ever work properly. "They might need to scrap it and get a new system," said Brooks.

A spokesperson for the county was unaware of this newest lawsuit. The county has not commented on any of the previous lawsuits saying it's a legal matter.

 


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