Local News

Cut fiber line knocks out state courts' communications

Posted April 14, 2009 11:50 a.m. EDT
Updated April 14, 2009 6:34 p.m. EDT

— Phone and data systems in courthouses and county offices in North Carolina's 100 counties were knocked out Tuesday after a contractor cut a fiber-optic cable.

The state Administrative Office of the Courts reported intermittent service interruptions affecting the mainframe and server-based applications for the state court system.

In Raleigh, the Wake County Courthouse was brought to a standstill for at least six hours, forcing judges to continue hearings.

Magistrate Steven Tibbetts said the outages also affected decisions in his office on how to set appropriate bond.

"It has pretty much immobilized us," he said Tuesday morning. "We're unable to determine outstanding warrants. We're unable to determine prior history. Without that information, we're kind of flying blind."

Employees had to communicate with each other through their personal cell phones.

By 1:30 p.m., AT&T had repaired the network, restoring service at the Wake courthouse, as well as the 101 offices throughout the state, AOC spokeswoman Sharon Gladwell said. Approximately 6,600 employees were affected.

Gladwell said she did not yet have estimates about how much the outage cost the state in lost productivity and wages.

Numerous county telephone systems and cell phones also were affected, officials said.

Gladwell said this was the second network outage with AT&T.

The court system experienced a similar one for two hours in February due to an AT&T network hardware failure.