Criminal Justice

Rogue clerk may have altered records in more than 1,000 cases

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An investigation of altered court files in Orange County, California, is leading to one rogue clerk, according to legal counsel for the county court system.

Lawyer Jeffrey Wertheimer tells the Los Angeles Times and the Orange County Register that the clerk appears to have altered more than 1,000 DUI and misdemeanor traffic cases since 2010 in courts across the county, The clerk created fake plea deals, lowered penalties and dropped charges, apparently in exchange for payoffs.

Because the cases were marked as resolved, the defendant didn’t have to return to court and no other court clerks scrutinized the files, Wertheimer said. But there was no full resolution in one DUI case in March, which led to a review of all cases handled by the clerk in the DUI case.

Loyola law professor Stanley Goldman told the Los Angeles Times that computerization of the court system might have made it easier for the wrongdoer to alter cases.

The FBI is investigating. Defendants in cases flagged in the investigation are being called into court for a proper resolution of the charges.

Related article: “Lawyers receive notices to appear for ‘clients’ they never represented; tampering probe is underway”

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