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Plaintiff: Settlement with Nassau DA guarantees records are secure  

Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas stands inside

Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas stands inside the Nassau County Courthouse in Mineola in September. Credit: Newsday/Steve Pfost

A new federal lawsuit settlement will guarantee sensitive records are secure in an electronic portal the Nassau district attorney’s office uses to share evidence with defendants and not used by a third party, according to a plaintiff's attorney.

But prosecutors said previously that the records in the portal, which include information related to victims, witnesses and grand jurors, always have been protected.

Plaintiff David Adhami said in his May lawsuit against the defendants, including the district attorney's office and county that lawyers — like himself — had to agree to a software vendor’s undisclosed terms before accessing the computerized portal where evidence in criminal cases is exchanged with prosecutors.

But one of Adhami's attorneys, Victor Yannacone Jr., said that no longer will be the case under terms of the settlement.

The Patchogue lawyer had said in June it was unclear whether the vendor of the portal’s software system, known as JustWare, also had access to the records.

The plaintiff had alleged the district attorney’s office and county were trampling on criminal defendants’ rights and possibly jeopardizing records because there were no guarantees cybersecurity provisions were in place and that the vendor wasn’t using information for commercial purposes.

"There was no guarantee before. Now there’s a guarantee," Yannacone also said recently.

Nassau District Attorney Madeline Singas put the portal system in place because of reform legislation that took effect in January that requires prosecutors to turn over records to defendants much earlier in a criminal case.

Miriam Sholder, a spokeswoman for Singas, said previously that the portal system is secure and "has been welcomed by most defense attorneys who value its speed and efficiency."

Sholder declined to comment on Thursday. She referred an inquiry on the settlement to the county attorney's office.

Christine Geed, a spokeswoman for Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, referred back to Singas' office.

"It was a district attorney's initiative, so we're referring to the district attorney's office," she said.

An order from U.S. Magistrate Judge Anne Shields indicates that a document showing the case has been discontinued is due to her for review by early November after claims involving the county had settled by August.

The records don’t contain settlement specifics, but say the county had to provide the plaintiff with a settlement agreement draft last month.

Another court document shows Adhami agreed in August to dismiss the action against additional defendants Journal Technologies Inc. and Daily Journal Corporation — the entities behind the software.

Their Rockville Centre attorney, Andrew Karamouzis, didn't immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.

Yannacone said the plaintiff will recoup some legal costs as part of the settlement, which otherwise involves assurances about security.

The plaintiff’s lawyer said the county attorney’s office stated in front of the judge that there was no third-party access to records even before the federal complaint.

"We weren’t interested in getting into the internals of security … in the district attorney IT department," Yannacone added. "All we wanted to know was that going forward, there would be industry standard level security."

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