Arizona Republic Compounds Error About Judge's E-Mails in Opinion Column

As our readers know, we corrected misinformation yesterday about whether the takeover of a computer system by the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office gave Arpaio and his minions access to judge's e-mails they aren't allowed to have.

But someone forgot to send the memo to the Arizona Republic's editorial writers, who penned an opinion piece about the situation today. Though we wouldn't argue with 90 percent of the piece, the following passage is apparently incorrect:

Arpaio previously sought to look through privileged Superior Court e-mails in the system. An appellate court ruled against him. By seizing the entire system, Arpaio gains access to these e-mails, and much more.

We asked the ICJIS program manager, Gary Huish, about that two or three times yesterday just to make sure, and his answer was emphatic: The sheriff's office takeover, while "monumental" in its egregiousness, does not give Arpaio access to the those judge's e-mails, he told us.

The takeover may, however, allow prying eyes to scan other, not-so-sensitive e-mails. But computers, fastidious record-keepers that they are, would allow the county's IT department to determine if e-mails were accessed or if anything in the system was changed.

In other words, if the sheriff's office uses this opportunity to spy on people without a search warrant, they'll probably get caught.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.