Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Bob Roper

We have some sad news to share in this post.  Our good friend and former NCSC colleague, Bob Roper has passed.  The following notes are from friends who wish to share their stories about this true court technology pioneer.

From O. John Kuenhold:

Bob served as CIO of the Colorado Courts from 1992 until he resigned in September 2011. Bob’s leadership and vision initiated the long transition of the Branch into the world of electronic files, filing and the continuing development of a next-gen case management system. Bob was a founding member of CITOC and served for a decade on the COSCA-NACM Joint Technology Committee of the National Center for State Courts where he championed the role of technology in improving the quality of service to the public by the courts. Bob was a frequent presenter and panelist at the NCSC Court Technology Conferences E-Courts Conferences for 20 years.

 After leaving the Branch he worked as a court consultant for URL Integration and then on his own with extensive work for the Alaska Court System. During his time in Alaska, he became a first-class wildlife photographer, and this became his number two interest after his grandchildren.

 Before working at the Colorado Courts, Bob was a Professor of Political Science at Southern Illinois University where he taught courses in government, criminal justice, court management, civil liberties and methodology in judicial research. From 1983-88, he directed the Court Statistics and Information Management Project at the National Center for State Courts moved to the NCSC Institute for Court Management from 88-92 where he directed the Court Executive Development Program and designed the NCSC/ICM technology curriculum for courts until he took the job with the Colorado Courts.

His presence at a joint tech meeting or in a CTC panel insured a robust discussion of the benefits, dangers and hidden opportunities in emerging technologies. His staunch insistence on court ownership and control of its data and his mantra that business practices should be reevaluated and redesigned considering new technology (rather than mimic in electronic processes the past paper world) remains as valid today as when he first annunciated it thirty years ago.

Roberto Aldelardi writes:

I met Bob during my first trip to the Court Technology Conference in 1999 which was held in Los Angeles.  I was a new CIO for the Puerto Rico Judicial Branch and was trying to get on board as quickly as possible.  We got to share some of the great sessions at the CTC and participated with him during what eventually became CITOC. 

I participated in subsequent CTC’s, NACM and COSCA meetings and always looked forward to seeing him and sharing stories of the challenges within the courts.  Finally, during the 2005 CTC, he threw a (fake) fit when he saw me in Seattle with a vendor badge.  Yes, I had turned to the dark side as he told me and was hosting international delegates as a Microsoft employee.

I think I made it up to him years later when I called him to let him know I was again with the court system as CIO of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida (Miami-Dade).   I was calling him to ask for feedback related to a Colorado-based vendor. 

Felix Bajandas writes:

He was a true mentor and friend - very sad.   I traveled - literally - all of Puerto Rico with him - much joy and wonderful memories

Chad Cornelius writes:

Bob Roper first hired me as a software engineer in the fall of 2002. During my tenure as a Software Engineer, and later as a Senior Software Engineer and Senior IT Manager, Bob always found interesting and challenging projects for us to work on, which ultimately resulted in the Colorado Judicial Branch being a national leader in successfully delivering data exchange and paper on-demand initiatives. Bob was a strong advocate in finding ways for others to grow professionally and was extremely passionate in supporting the mission of the Colorado courts and probation. Though our service to the mission of the courts and probation can be very demanding on our time, I will always remember how supportive Bob was in allowing our team to carve out time with family. This is a characteristic of Bob that I have and will continue to carry on in his honor.

Jim McMillan writes:

Bob was a dear friend.  I had the privilege of working with him on many days.  I especially remember our road trip across Illinois in the early 1990s. We presented two court technology classes, first outside Chicago and then after a drive across the state, outside of St. Louis.  It is during this trip he shared that the reason he took the professorship at Southern Illinois University was that he could still pick up University of Kentucky basketball game radio broadcasts.

Bob was a pioneer in the implementation and use of a statewide E-filing system while he was the CIO for the Colorado Courts.  He was the first to use a policy of voluntary adoption of civil case E-filing by the users.  This, in turn, let us learn how long E-filing adoption would take in a state.  We learned that within five (5) years a court could expect to exceed 90% adoption.  Now it is even faster since users expect to be able to work electronically with the courts.  A 2010 “case study” paper captures lessons learned from this work

Bob also pioneered the development and use of a data sharing program between the Colorado criminal justice agencies that exist to this day.

He will be very much missed.

1 comment:

  1. From Mark Zaffarano

    I met Bob at the Institute for Court Management many years ago before he became an independent technology consultant. I knew him for more than 20 years. He was a true professional in every sense of the word. He also cared about people as much as he cared about technology. I would see him at all of the National Court Technology Conferences because we would both be presenting seminars there. Bob was super busy all the time and very hard working. So whenever we were able to talk and exchange ideas it was always useful and memorable. I also knew him when he worked at the Institute for Court Management in Denver Colorado. He enjoyed his work there a great deal and liked working with court employees from different states. Bob had a great sense of humor and he knew how to read folks very well. I will miss him. I know the entire state and local court technology community will miss him as well.