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State probes Yakima County computer use

YAKIMA, Wash. (AP) - State investigators are looking into the access of Yakima County computers.

The state Administrative Office of the Courts was asked by Yakima County Superior Court Judge David Elofson to review whether access or attempted access to court data or information was made by anyone from the County Clerks’ Office on March 19, 2016.

The request came after County Clerk Janelle Riddle allowed her attorney Joseph Thomas into the courthouse after normal business hours on March 19 despite county commissioners telling her not to, The Yakima Herald-Republic reported (http://bit.ly/1TaRP0d).

Commissioners have authority over access to the courthouse.

Riddle hired Thomas after county commissioners assembled a panel to look into concerns about how the clerk’s office is being run.

Surveillance video from that day shows a deputy clerk logging onto a county computer and letting Thomas take over the keyboard.

County officials launched their own investigation into the matter due to concerns over what Thomas viewed. Thomas said he was only using the computer to get an understanding of clerk’s office operations.

“My investigation was about the scope of the clerk’s office as I said time and time again,” Thomas said. “I was in the clerk’s office to investigate that. I did not investigate any documents illegally.”

This story has been changed to reflect the following: In a story May 13 about the Yakima County computer system, The Associated Press reported erroneously the details of a state inquiry. The state Administrative Office of the Courts was asked by Yakima County Superior Court Judge David Elofson to review whether anyone from the Yakima County Clerks’ Office attempted to access court data on March 19, 2016. No specific individuals were named in Elofson’s request.

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