Archive for the ‘Texas’ Category
Government agencies won’t put public records on the Internet but the former Santa Bernardino County Assessor found a technological runaround to making his emails a public record.
A private investigator and the former supervisor of the Worthless Check Division in the St.Tammany (Louisiana) District Attorney’s Office were sentenced to three years’ probation for buying and selling criminal information from the National Crime Information Center database. The DA employee got the heavier sentence — she also lost her job.
Nebraska Supreme Court ruling: Burial records from a state run cemetery are a public record. The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) claimed that the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) applied because the cemetery was for residents at a former psychiatric hospital. But the court noted that HIPAA allows for the disclosure of protected health information when required by state law, and that Nebraska’s public records laws trumped HIPAA because these are death records, which are open records. Reported by RCFP.
Texas media, private investigators and genealogists are opposing the efforts of the Texas legislature to exempt the dates of birth of government employees from disclosure as a public record. The media has uncovered misdeeds by employees of the Texas Youth Commission — matching dates of birth with employee names — involving abuse of people and the public trust. Shielding dates of birth in public records does not protect the public from identity theft, as legislatures claim when attempting to carve out more public record exemptions.
The Texas Attorney General has finally around to offering a service previously available in most other states: a charities online database. A search using the Texas Charitable Organizations Search Tool returns a summary of the organization, sometimes with a revenue graph, and a link to the IRS 990 forms. As of this date none of the 990 forms were yet available. Search by these fields, individually or in combination: organization name or word in the name, city, state, type of activity and employer identification number. An information page explains how to read a form 990 and links to other charity lookups.
Find the Florida charities search (“Gift Givers’ Guide”) buried deep in the Division of Consumer Services site.
The Texas Attorney General is employing various media – screen shots, video, press releases and court documents – to broadcast its recent shuttering of USA Skiptrace, AMS Research Services, Inc. and Worldwide Investigations, Inc. for selling consumers’ private telephone records and impersonating those account holders. These businesses were based in Colorado but conducted business in Texas when they called Texas telecommunications companies.
The Office of the Attorney General charged USA Skiptrace with violating the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. The corporate defendants were ordered to pay $150,000 in civil penalties, with John Strange also responsible for a separate fine of $2,500.
Do you think that the telephone companies might someday send customers automatic email alerts notifying them of inquires?
Computer Forensic professionals are quickly finding out that several states are now requiring them to be licensed as private investigators.
A recent article in Baseline Magazine details how legislators in South Carolina have introduced pending legislation where “digital forensic evidence gathered for use in a court in this state must be collected by a person with a PI license or through a PI licensed agency.”
The Texas Private Security Board recently made a ruling regarding the licensing regulations which effect computer security consultants and computer forensic examiners. They felt that it is important that these computer related practitioners, as well as the entities hiring their services, are familiar with the licensing regulations, as violations carry steep financial and legal penalties.
There is no doubt that these regulations will cause computer forensic experts to create strategic business alliances with private investigators to insure that evidence they collect is not thrown out of court over licensing issues.
What do you think about this? Should computer forensic experts be required to have a PI license? Do private investigators have the necessary training and expertise to conduct computer forensic examinations?
Search the online records of disciplinary actions from 2000 to 2007 for funeral homes and funeral practitioners at the Maine Board of Funeral Service. Use this advanced search query at the Google search engine. In this example, I’ve searched the name “Fernald”. Note the Web address in the search bar.
Use the same Google search format to identify Pennsylvania professional license disciplinary actions, including for funeral directors and funeral homes, from 1999 to 2007.
The Oregon Mortuary and Cemetery Board has images of Notice of Proposed Disciplinary Action and Consent Order for cases filed from 2005 to 2007.
The Texas Funeral Service Commission has a one page list of disciplinary actions taken against licensees since September 2006. The record has a name, violation, action taken and date.
This document has hyperlinks to all the state funeral regulatory boards.
The California Supreme Court seems to be leaning toward the interpretation of state law granting the public access to the names and salaries of government employees, including police officers. A ruling is expected within 3 months. A favorable ruling for the newspapers that filed the lawsuits could help private investigators in police misconduct cases track the employment of officers across departments.
The Computer Services Bureau of the California Police Officers Standards and Training (POST) Commission maintains a database of peace officer records to track employment training.
California criminal defense attorneys and investigators, and crime reporters will want to consult the 2007 Legal Update, a 150 page guide to legislation, case law and Attorney General Opinions enacted in the past year related to law enforcement.
Idaho has received a grant to expand its victim notification service (VINE) beyond the state prison system to its county jails. The complete network should be operational by next year.
Photos for inmates at the Utah County, Utah jail are back online after being removed because someone downloaded a bunch of photos and posted them to another site. To their credit, the County Attorney and Sheriff emerged from their huddle with a wise decision: fix the technological problem and get the public records back online.
Jennifer LaFleur discusses some of the troubling legislation that passed and failed in Texas recently, including the closure of the concealed gun registrations database to public inspection.
The Arizona Supreme Court ruled that the courts, not government entities determine which emails generated by agencies are public records. Calaveras County, California, seems to be taking a serious look at its electronic records storage policy. Check out the Federal Judicial Center “Links” page for electronic discovery resources.