Dallas District Attorney- We Can’t Search Our Email

dallas+da+open+recordsThe Harris County DA is in turmoil for a number of recent events. One being an email that mentioned problematic “Canadian” jurors. This email was sent between Prosecutors. “Canadians” being a code work for African Americans.

I filed an open records request to the Dallas District Attorney’s office to see if there had been any mentions of “Canadians” in their email. Specifically, I asked for any emails sent by any attorney that had the word “Canadians” in it.

The response from the Dallas office- We can’t search our own email.

Really? You don’t have Google desktop? “>Dallasites spend millions of dollars yearly for government technology that can not perform a simple search? No wonder so many innocent people are convicted in Dallas County.


4 responses to “Dallas District Attorney- We Can’t Search Our Email”

  1. <img src="http://www.blogge says:

    Wow, something on a law blog I can finally comment on as a career computer programmer.They say that they can’t do a search for “all emails sent or received.” Strictly speaking that’s probably true: Some installations don’t archive email at all, and the ones that do archive email usually don’t retain it indefinitely (I’ve worked for ISPs and companies from tiny to enormous, but never the government).So it’s very likely that they can’t search all of the emails that were sent or retrieved. Could they search a subset of the emails sent or retrieved by attorneys? Certainly, but, the size of the subset and the cost of doing so varies greatly depending on how their email system is set up.One extreme would be an old-fashioned POP-style system (not widely used anymore) where the message only sits on a central server until the recipients email client retrieves it, and after that it exists until the sender and recipient have deleted it (well… if you want to be picky the data is still there after they deleted it, but you probably don’t expect a forensic data recovery company to examine all the attorney’s hard drives for your request, right?). With that kind of system, the only messages they can easily search (without logging in to each of their attorney’s computers) would be the ones that have been sent to an attorney, but not yet received by that attorney.A far more likely setup nowadays is for a single server (or group of servers) to hold all email sent or received by an organization until it’s deleted (possibly automatically) to make space for more messages. With this sort of system you could search for messages recently sent or received by everyone. Barring some sort of retention policy, “recently” would vary from person to person (typically it’d be weeks to months), and it’s possible that someone could immediately delete some messages and locally archive others indefinitely.In short, it’s impossible to know how truthy their answer is without knowing more details about their email system.

  2. <img src="http://www.blogge says:

    As someone with pending charges in Dallas County that I really have no legal defense on, I am extremely happy that their technology system is so bogged down that it’s a very real possibility that they won’t even get to me.I mean, it’s just a driving without a license charge, and the circumstances surrounding the arrest were suspect at best, but if they don’t get to me I don’t have to send you a couple grand to beat it.I guess I see your point in wanting Dallas to update their technology after all!Hope all’s well bro.

  3. <img src="http://www.blogge says:

    Computers and their software was promoted as a way to save cost and make information *more* accessible and paper filing systems.Now they are turning this on its head and saying because the information is in a computer system they can’t search it. That is unacceptable and probably not legal.

  4. looking for justice says:

    can you post t a copy of the forged letter from lynn shaw and how do you think they got a copy to cut and paste a letter from the DA

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