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Dallas Police, Courts Plagued By Ongoing Ransomware Attack

Dallas police are struggling to access physical and digital evidence amid an ongoing ransomware attack that is disrupting trials, according to defense lawyers who are exasperated after more than three months of evidence storage issues, the Dallas Morning News reports. The consequences played out Thursday in a murder trial, where a man was found guilty despite evidence being unavailable to jurors or lawyers. The previous week, a jury couldn’t reach a unanimous verdict in another murder trial, where police were unable to produce a phone or shell casings. “It’s the Stone Age again,” said Douglas Huff, president of the Dallas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association. “This has pretty extensive implications,” he said. “Ultimately, all of this is causing horrendous delays and a clear message is that justice that is delayed is justice that is denied.” The ransomware attack initiated by the group Royal on the city of Dallas has stretched into a third week, downing several departments. The city has said it could take weeks or months until services are fully restored.


While the county, which administers the courts, is not directly affected, some cases could be paused because electronic evidence catalogs are inoperable, communication is breaking down and internal police share drives and servers are compromised. Before the attack, the Dallas Police Department’s digital media evidence team was already sorting through hundreds of murder and capital murder cases to look for deleted digital evidence — an “incredible problem” affecting people accused of crimes, Huff said. That review is now on hold. Police spokeswoman Kristin Lowman said officials are working to bring the police evidence cataloging software back online. She said police are manually accepting, inventorying and retrieving evidence, and the property unit is locating evidence. The city’s municipal courts have slowed to a crawl. The Dallas Municipal Court’s website said there will be no court hearings, trials or jury duty for the duration of the outage.

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