The Maryland Office of the Public Defender’s computer server was “compromised” in March, which prompted the state judiciary to disable all of the office’s employees’ electronic court system accounts.
The server issue affected the agency’s operation in each of Maryland’s 24 jurisdictions, requiring its attorneys to submit court files in paper, said Melissa Rothstein, a spokeswoman for the statewide agency, which is located in Baltimore.
According an affidavit filed in the Capital Gazette shooting case, the “intrusion” occurred on March 25. In the court filing, one of the public defenders requested the presiding judge accept paper filings, which the court usually does not do for attorneys, who are required to file things online via Maryland Electronic Courts — except for the jurisdictions where MDEC has not been implemented.
“Due to this intrusion, the Maryland Courts have disabled all accounts belonging to Public Defender employees where the login involves a Public Defender email address,” Elizabeth Palan, Deputy District Public Defender for Anne Arundel County, wrote in the affidavit filed March 31.
Maryland’s online court system has not yet been rolled out in Baltimore City, and Montgomery and Prince George’s counties.
The Maryland Judiciary blocked access for the public defenders’ office to all its system on March 26, soon after it was made aware of the office’s issues, said Nadine Maeser, spokeswoman for the judiciary. The courts instructed public defenders to file submissions in paper pending further notice from the judiciary.
None of the judiciary systems were damaged, Maeser said.
Rothstein said Tuesday that the courts have restored the public defender’s office’s access to the electronic court system.
Maeser said most public defenders have regained access to the system. “We anticipate the entire situation will be resolved in the coming days.”
Rothstein said the public defender’s office server issue has not yet been resolved completely, “but it has been addressed.”
“At this time, we cannot provide further details about the server issue,” Rothstein said.
The computer issues cropped up as Maryland courts reduced operations to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19. Courts are staffed only by essential personnel, with some employees working remotely.