Sheriff's Office Says Court Staff Engaged in Criminal Activity; Hearing on Computer Seizure Continues


2:40 p.m.

Back to hearing.

Sheriff's office is turning over info to the Department of Justice that it believes shows court personnel engaged in criminal activity, says the sheriff's lawyer, Kerry Martin. Martin does not go into detail but apparently it might have had something to do with the ICJIS system.

David Selden, the county's lawyer, says he must demonstrate irreperable harm, among other things.

Judge tells sheriff's office it could have filed for some injunctive relief previously if it believed that was necessary. Says he really just wants to understand why the sheriff's office did what it did yesterday.

Martin says the statements by the Board of Supervisors regarding this case weren't accurate.

Judge Heilman denies the motion to stay this case -- it's an important issue that needs to be resolved immediately.

Martin argues the county has no standing in this case.

Selden says the sheriff's office is arguing the opposite of what it argued in the computer lawsuit, which was that the Supervisors are a party. Says they think they can sue the Board of Supervisors, but when the sheriff's office takes action like this, the Supervisors have no standing.

Martin: This isn't an issue of self-help. Says the sheriff's office had the right to take control of the ICJIS system.

Says the password at issue is a high-level administrative password, so the sheriff's office went in and changed it. Says it hasn't been changed in nine years and that the sheriff's office is done with what it intended to do. The county would notice no change after what the sheriff's office did.



Martin says it's going to take a "substantial presentation" just to explain what the sheriff's office did.

(Apparently, this ICJIS system is just a portal for law enforcement organizations to exchange information).

Martin says all that occurred was to change a password, and they didn't need to notify the Board of Supervisors.

Heilman finds the Supervisors has standing.

Gary Huish takes stand. He's ICJIS program manager:

ICJIS is a collaborative initiative after the public approved a jail tax. First initiative was to create an integrated justice computer system. Five primary entities: MCSO, county attorney, Superior Court or trial courts, which includes adult probation, the clerk of the court and indigent representation.

Selden: What kind of info flows through the ICJIS network.

Huish: Info that helps the justice agencies communicate with one another. From a court date to the assignment of an attorney to criminal history.

Discusses governing document for ICJIS. Says who he reports to is a complex question. Reports to the ICJIS committee and the county manager.

Three levels of governance: highest is ICJIS governing committee. Those are very high level, several of them are elected officials. Then there's a business level. Third tier is the justice law enforcement technology committee, tech folks from the five law enforcement organizations.

Selden asks Huish whether he had any info on the sheriff's office actions, and neither was there a vote yesterday by the governing committee about changing passwords or anything else.

Huish says that at about nine in the morning yesterday, the sheriff's deputies showed up. We invited them in, he says, since they are our stakeholders. But it was unusual.

He was asked to go back into the conference room. ICJIS is a secure building as required by DPS regs. The conference room is 620 West Jackson, second floor.

Bob (who was with the deputies, apparently) presented a document to us and basically announced that the sheriff's office was taking management control of the criminal justice network. That we would step aside and be asked not to enter into those computers and servers as they were taking control.

Bob is Bob Rampy, "one of our trusted governing stakeholders who actually helped design the system." Huish says he may be a reserve officer at MCSO, but he's not sure.

Sheriff's personnel said they would not allow others to come in while we're taking this action, Huish says.

Selman hands Huish a document and asks if that's the one they showed to him in the conference room. He says yes.

Huish says they left the conference room, talked to other ICJIS employees.

Selden: Did the sheriff's office have any computer equipment with them?

Huish says they had at least two laptops with a wireless connection. They connected to the network, he says.

Selden: So what did they do?

Huish doesn't know, but he understands they changed the password. Selden asks how that affected his job.

Huish says it stopped our job, because they couldn't access the netowrk. But the data exchanges they had built over the years continued to operate.

Judge stops and asks what the heck they just said.

Huish says he could still access the business systems, which includes business documents and e-mails. "We could get into all business environments."

But he couldn't access the criminal justice network, "or at least, we were asked not to," Huish says.

If there was a problem, they would have needed to get into the justice system, he says. Selden asks him whether any such problems occurred.

Huish says an MCSO person who consults with ICJIS regularly helped them fix a minor glitch.


Martin, sheriff's office lawyer, asks if ICJIS is a criminal justice agency -- Huish says yes.

(Note to readers -- don't take this as a transcript -- we're just trying to get the highlights for you...)

Martin questions whether the Board of Supervisors or county manager's office are criminal justice agencies.

Huish says the county entities are a party to the system, mainly because they fund it.

Huish says ICJIS budget is $6 million a year. Was cut dramatically, to less than $2 million. Went from 22 staff members to four. They use consultants now, too.

Martin asks if the ICJIS governing committee has effectively been disbanded because of the cuts. Huish isn't sure.

Martin says that ICJIS is really just IT support, to which Huish has to agree.

Huish says in a broad sense, ICJIS is responsive to the law enforcement agencies that use it.

Martin asks if the county manager instructs you to do something like install software, would Huish do it. Huish says that no, the county manager wouldn't have the authorization to make changes to the criminal justice software.

Martin and Huish talk about who usually accesses the database, namely law officer types. The system allows access to police info that contains personal data on a lot of folks.

Huish admits he's been in meetings with David Smith, county manager, since yesterday. Martin asks him what substance of the conversation was. Selden objects: "Hearsay."

Martin says hearsay is okay for this hearing.

Huish says the substance of the conversation was that ICJIS should continue to try to serve the stakeholders. "We want to continue to provide that expert service," he says.

There was some discussion about the role of the ICJIS staff, too.

Tom Gendron was also in the meeting with Smith and Huish. Gendron is an IT consultant on the staff of ICJIS. Huish says he's the brains of the criminal justice network.

Now about 3:45.

Martin asks if Tom called Huish, Huish says no. Huish also says he got a few calls from the clerk of the court and other ICJIS parties who were concerned about what the sheriff's office was doing.

Judge asks Huish if there have been any secruity breaches since the computer lawsuit was filed in April 2009. Heilman says he's looking for the reasons why this had to happen like it did.

Huish says there are no reasons he's aware of.

Selden again for the county: Asks Huish if he feels he serves all of the five entities in ICJIS equally. Huish says yes.

3:55 p.m. -- Heilman calls another recess.










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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.