There has been some questions and confusion regarding information about the performance of the county clerk’s office and retaining a court public defender in the Rana Klingner embezzlement trial. A careful look into what has been happening in these offices may show a clearer picture.
The Boise County Clerk’s Office wanted to make sure that people understood several points made in the correction in the Idaho World dated August 24, 2016. The correction was for the article “Charges of Embezzlement Stall in Court” published in a previous edition of the Idaho World dated August 17, 2016 in which it erroneously reported that the county would be paying for the prosecuting attorney for the former county employee Rana Klingner at her trial.
This was the statement as first reported: “From the defendant’s personal bank records, subpoenaed on behalf of the county, the court ordered Klingner to retain her own council. However, on August 11th, Klingner was again assigned with a public defender, which the county will pay for.”
A correction was then published in the August 24 paper that did address the fact that there will not be a public defender paid for by the county for Klingner. Many people did not see the correction and the county wants to clear up any confusion with the facts. Since the Clerk’s office and Court Clerk were perceived as part of the problem to inaccurate reporting, they want to help people understand the processes more clearly.
The “correction” noted that the reporter took the time to request public court records. The appearance of blame was placed on the performance of the Clerk’s office and the request. The “correction” of Aug. 24th stated, “Due to a public request not being met by the Boise County Court, under the office of Clerk Mary Prisco, regarding more information on this case, this reporter resorted to the Idaho Repository which stated for August 11th: “Order RE: Appointment of Public Defender” After speaking with the Boise County Prosecutor’s Office, it was stated that the explanation in the Repository was “poorly written,” that Rana Klingner did not meet the qualifications of a needy person and would need to provide her own lawyer.”
In this correction, there is the sense that the request for public records appeared to be slow or not being met in a timely manner. The county wants to address this issue. The timing of the request on this particular day was met with circumstances that had to be taken care of which were beyond the control of the Office of the Clerk and its employees.
Alicia M. Schiffer, Supervising Deputy Court Clerk had an explanation of events, stating that she did indeed receive the request for the audio on August 15th. She went on to say, “That was also the day that all 4 of the computers were hit with a virus. That took all day to handle. All four of the court computers had to be replaced. I, then, had to have them fix the audio on my computer. I am not wanting to make excuses…it was just crazy. Add on top of that the fact that we lost our Public Information person and [the request] ended up in a stack.”
Schiffer confirms that she always processes the requests in the order that they are received by the court. As public information requests get to the clerk, Schiffer hopes to get them filled to within 48 hours of receiving them. There is a process of filling court requests which take time. In pulling a request for public records, filling them are as prompt as possible, but it is not always possible to do it immediately.
Further investigation about the computers and the virus, it was explained that the computers used within the Courthouse, are the property of the State Supreme Court and are maintained/repaired by same. The County does not own that equipment nor do they have any control over it.
Also, for clarification purposes, Schiffer wanted to respond to the part of the “correction” that says “the explanation in the repository was poorly written “. She says, “We as court clerks do not write those descriptions. We are told to type the description of the document based on what the description is on the actual document. I pulled that document and looked at it, the document description is “Order RE: Appointment of Public Defender”. I can’t change that wording when I enter it into ISTARS. To further clarify, we do not create those documents. That particular document was created and the description was added onto the document by the Prosecutor’s Office”.
Written by Janet Juroch -BCC Staff