Court conducts audit in aftermath of clerk’s arrest
September 21, 2009
By KAREN VELIE
In response to the arrest of a court clerk for allegedly selling information on pending warrants, San Luis Obispo County Superior Court officials have begun a review of policies and an audit of court records to determine how many cases might have been affected by the clerk’s actions.
Juvenal Marin’s alleged money-making scheme was discovered after a citizen informed sheriff’s narcotic detectives that the clerk was selling information on pending warrants. On two separate occasions, undercover sheriff’s detectives allegedly paid Marin to notify them of possible law enforcement actions, according to the sheriff’s report.
“Marin said that he has helped many people with multiple felonies and he gave advice on how to detect who is an informant,” the detective said in his report about his meeting with Marin, who resigned from his position after his arrest.
Marin charged potential clients $300 to $500 per week in exchange for providing a heads up about any pending warrants, according to the sheriff’s report.
“You have someone that could have compromised a criminal investigation,” said San Luis Obispo Sheriff’s Sgt. Jim Taylor. “The courts are conducting an audit to find any case files he has tampered with.”
In addition to reviewing past search warrants, court officials and sheriff’s department investigators are in the midst of researching all court records Marin had access to with a focus on discovering case record alterations and/or the clearing out of fines.
“It’s a lot of work but it is important and something we’ve got to do,” said Superior Court Executive Officer Susan Matherly. “We are going to look at what cases he queried and ask why he was looking at those case numbers.”
At the time of Marin’s arrest, court clerks were cross trained to handle a variety of criminal and traffic transactions. Marin’s duties included collecting cash, entering data, providing access to non-confidential files, and communicating court case information to the California Bar and the State Attorney General’s Office. As a result of Marin’s alleged transgressions, court officials are reviewing cross training procedures and have greatly reduced access to active warrants.
“Sometime this week, warrants will be moved to my office, in a locked cabinet, behind a locked door,” Matherly added. “We have also changed our internet procedures.”
On September 3, detectives arrested Marin at the San Luis Obispo County courthouse and informed the clerk that they were simultaneously serving search warrants on his car, home, and work station. Marin asked detectives if he could see where his car was listed on the warrant.
“I should have had access to that,” Marin spontaneously said (according to the sheriff’s report.) “I should have known.”
Sheriff’s deputies seized bank receipts, a signed conflict of interest form, a signed code of ethics document, a pad of names with phone numbers, a drug pipe, and an illegal knife.
Marin was booked into county jail and released on the same day. He officially resigned as a court clerk on September 13, approximately 15 months after he was hired.
He is slated to appear in court October 1 for an arraignment hearing on two felony counts. The first charge alleges Marin removed, mutilated, and or falsified government records. The second count states Marin “altered, deleted, destroyed, or otherwise used court data” to obtain money.