A reporter from the local Telegraph newspaper found the documents, which included protection order information, in an open recycling bin behind the facility. The documents contained names of victims, including minors, dates of birth, addresses, telephone numbers, social security numbers, and accounts of the circumstances around the issuing of protection orders.
Judy Nelson, interim Madison County circuit clerk, told the newspaper that her office followed proper protocol in disposing of the records. She said that although a new Illinois Supreme Court rule went into effect on Jan. 1 prohibiting unauthorized disclosure of social security numbers, the rule did not apply previously and therefore the information that was being discarded was public record because the cases were closed.
"I am appalled that court documents potentially containing sensitive information about county residents would be discarded in such a careless fashion", John Barberis, an attorney and Republican candidate ruing for circuit clerk, told the newspaper.
"In addition to the concern for victims, there are many false allegations that get dismissed by the court after hearings that could be damaging to the reputation of those falsely accused", he said.