Collin County judge, district clerk, engage in heated debate about “stolen” emails | News

A Collin County Commissioners Court assembly dissolved into heated debate on Monday between County Judge Chris Hill and District Clerk Lynne Finley after Finley accused Hill of “stealing” her emails.

During a particular session of the Commissioners Court that centered on funds gadgets, Finley accused Hill of stealing lots of of her emails with out approval and mentioned there had been a “safety breach.” After requesting an impartial trade server for info and emails, Finley alleged that Hill, after requesting copies of her emails via a public info request, didn’t give her the mandatory time to vet the requested paperwork for exempt or protected info and that he as a substitute “took” them beforehand.

“As the district clerk, I work with the courts. I work with numerous delicate materials,” Finley mentioned. “That’s why, underneath the Public Information Act, we’ve got a proper to exemptions and to privileges, as a result of they’re wanted to guard the work that we do.”

Hill denied that something had been stolen and denied that there had been a breach. Hill additionally mentioned he had requested the data not as a member of the general public however in his official capability because the county decide, and that the request was completed and processed underneath the extent of the legislation.

“There was an elected official who requested straight from the IT division my emails…” Finley mentioned Monday.

“Oh you imply me,” Hill mentioned.

“Yes I do.”

“You don’t imply a breach, you imply that I requested for a duplicate of your…”

“You stole them,” Finley mentioned.

“I’m sorry what?” Hill replied.

“You stole them.”

Hill mentioned the allegation that there was a breach was “a really inappropriate assertion.”

Hill alleged that Finley had been notified that the data had been requested, that she had responded by saying she needed time to look them over after which that she had mentioned she “didn’t need (her) data launched.”

“You had been suggested, you can’t protect them simply since you wish to protect them,” Hill mentioned.

Finley mentioned officers need to vet for privileges and exemptions.

“I’ve by no means mentioned I don’t need you to have my data, what I’ve mentioned is I must vet and ensure no matter is exempt or privileged shouldn’t be given up, as a result of you aren’t above these exemptions and privileges,” she advised Hill. “You simply aren’t.”

Hill mentioned he didn’t have any emails of Finley’s that had been privileged.

The argument revealed that Hill had additionally requested a document of Finley’s key card utilization to realize entry to the Collin County Courthouse campus. Hill mentioned the report demonstrated that Finley had not been on the campus for six months throughout the COVID-19 pandemic whereas her workplace was open.

“Your staff had been nonetheless right here working, however you weren’t to be discovered someday out of six months,” Hill mentioned. “They had been right here, however you weren’t. And that annoyed me to no finish. I didn’t know about it till it was delivered to my consideration by individuals who additionally had been annoyed about it. I verified it via that report.”

Hill mentioned he had requested the county legal professional in a letter if something may very well be completed about Finley’s conduct, and he mentioned the legal professional had mentioned no.

Finley mentioned she and her relations had been at a excessive danger for COVID-19.

“Did you already know that we had a state of the workplace name each Friday? And you already know why we did that? Because 50% of individuals had been working remotely,” Finley mentioned.

She added that her workplace had run easily and that she had labored via about 7,000 emails throughout the time interval in query.

“You needed me to return to this court docket in October earlier than we even had a vaccine,” Finley mentioned. “You virtually demanded I appeared in individual till you realized I even have a letter from my physician who says ‘You shouldn’t be in public.’ You needed to power me to be right here.”

Hill mentioned his accusation didn’t query whether or not she had been doing work.

“It questioned your attendance at county amenities whilst you had been requiring your employees to attend and you weren’t attending,” Hill mentioned.

“That shouldn’t be correct,” Finley mentioned.

Finley additionally mentioned she believed Hill needed her faraway from workplace.

“I don’t keep in mind precisely how I mentioned it,” Hill replied, “however fairly frankly I did consider then and I do consider now that your conduct warranted removing from workplace, so in the event you’re asking for clarification, let me make clear, sure.”

The heated interplay ended after about half-hour.

“My guess is that if we talked to the general public at massive over who has completed a greater job, they’d most likely say me,” Finley mentioned.

“OK,” Hill mentioned, “I believe we’re about to provoke that dialog.”

On Wednesday, Finley supplied a written assertion to Star Local Media. 

“Chris Hill, the Collin County Judge, on a number of events, improperly seized paperwork and emails underneath my care, custody and management, with out my data or consent, by improperly accessing the e-mail servers utilized by the Office of the District Clerk,” Finley said. “When Judge Hill’s misconduct was found, each the Office of the District Clerk, and the Collin County IT Department notified him in writing that his conduct was inappropriate and in violation of State and Federal legislation. Despite repeated warnings, Judge Hill improperly seized a big variety of protected communications and paperwork on a number of events.”

When requested about that portion of the assertion, a Collin County spokesperson mentioned the elected officers concerned in the interplay would wish to talk to their trade. 

Finley mentioned she had been advised that her request for an impartial e-mail server for the Office of the District Clerk was “not advisable.”

“If the Collin County Commissioners don’t approve an impartial e-mail server to guard the paperwork and communications underneath my management from the kind of improper entry perpetrated by County Judge Hill, I’ll have exhausted each cheap treatment at my disposal to fulfill my statutory duties to guard the paperwork underneath my care, and I can be left with no remaining possibility however to hunt an injunction stopping Judge Hill from releasing the paperwork he improperly seized,” Finley said.

As of press time, Hill has not responded to a request for remark relating to the interplay or relating to the character of a letter that he mentioned he had written to the county legal professional about Finely.

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