Computer glitch that prevented revenue collection finally fixed at Kansas City, Mo., Municipal Court

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A computer glitch at Kansas City's Municipal Court is finally fixed, meaning thousands of dollars of revenue will no longer go uncollected.

The problem persisted for two years, but court officials confirm to 41 Action News the software issue is resolved, acknowledging it took longer than expected.

When someone uses a bondsman to get out of jail, the company is on the hook for the full bond amount if the defendant doesn't show up for court and can't be located.

But as 41 Action News first reported last September , court officials have not been collecting that money since Kansas City implemented a new paperless technology in August, 2011.

Court officials originally told 41 Action News a fix was in the works and the solution would be in place by the beginning of 2013. However, upon following up, 41 Action News learned the problem still had not been corrected.

According to records reviewed by 41 Action News, Kansas City received an annual average of $162,000 in the four years prior to the paperless transition.

Bart Cooper, owner of Freedom Bonding LLC, said word spread in the industry that Kansas City's Municipal Court was not collecting bond forfeiture revenue.

As a result, he said accountability took a hit. Some people were not as worried about showing up for court, and some companies were not as worried about the risk.

"It was almost what happened to the housing market where anyone could get a loan to buy a house," Cooper said. "It was almost the same in the bail industry, at least in the municipal market in Kansas City."

Since the glitch first surfaced, court officials said they intended to retroactively collect the money once the problem was fixed. In an interview with 41 Action News last year , Presiding Judge Ardie Bland called it "revenue delayed but not denied."

However, Court Administrator Megan Pfannenstiel said it will likely be a slow process to determine which cases from the previous two years have outstanding bond money owed.

"Collecting that money has been the plan all along," Pfannensteil said. "But we will have to do a cost-benefit analysis to see if the staff time involved is worth it."

It is not the first glitch uncovered by a 41 Action News investigation.

In May of 2012, a report revealed that a large number of parking tickets were showing up as "unknown" in the Municipal Court's system. It turned out that parking enforcement officers did not have software on their handheld devices that could access out-of-state driving records.

Ryan Kath can be reached at ryan.kath@kshb.com. You can follow him on Twitter or connect on Facebook .

Print this article Back to Top

Comments