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Pinal County Attorney Responds to Clerk of Superior Court Accusations Regarding Breached Files

In an interview with the Casa Grande Dispatch regarding the recent sealed file access, the Court Clerk’s Chief Deputy acknowledged a court employee failed to lock the file.

“This is an instance of human error,” the chief deputy said.

And she went on to say, “The court clerk’s office has faith in the integrity of its justice partner – the Attorney’s Office.”

In fact, this caused a PCAO staff member to accidentally open a sealed document because the electronic file did not get labeled appropriately. However, upon opening the sensitive material, a PCAO employee realized the mistake, closed out of the file, and notified the Clerk of Court, the defense attorney, the judge involved.

In response to the Clerk’s recent press release regarding an alleged cover-up of ‘hundreds’ of non-authorized file viewings, PCAO adamantly denies any involvement with any alleged ‘cover-up’. We encourage a thorough investigation into these allegations. PCAO remains committed to helping with any investigating agency. The Clerk’s records management system, Arizona Judicial Automated Case System, otherwise known as AJACS, lacks security and these allegations of access to sealed documents still concerns PCAO and needs to be addressed. The Supreme Court must also take ownership of these failures and take responsibility to fix the issues within their software.

When using AJACS, the user’s information becomes documented every time a file gets accessed, including sealed files, whether or not the sensitive information was accessed. If a case is properly sealed it is inaccessible. However, often times, PCAO staff cannot tell if a certain file should be sealed until it’s too late hence, it’s not properly locked.

PCAO admits accidentally opening sealed documents on two separate occasions. Again, this occurred because the former Clerk of Court made a similar mistake as our current partner and Clerk of Court. Only the current Clerk of Court admitted this error.

And just as our partner said they did, PCAO implemented trainings to make certain instances like these do not occur again. However, if they do, PCAO put procedures in place regarding the notification of the proper authorities.

“I agree an issue exists with the current court records management system that fails to account for human error. My office remains committed to working with Clerk of the Superior Court in working to solve this issue that plagues both of our offices. I strive to get this resolved immediately. We commit to disclosing any accidental, or otherwise known, access of sensitive material, unintended for our office or public viewing,” said Pinal County Attorney Lando Voyles.

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Tuesday, 23 April 2024

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