Data Loss Results in Convicted Murderer Getting a Re-trial

It has been confirmed that Randy Chavianowho, who was sentenced to life in prison in 2009 after being convicted of second degree murder will be given a new trial. Chavianowho, who is from Florida, USA, was found guilty of fatally shooting Carlos Acosta. Lawyers who were working on an appeal case discovered that the majority of the court transcripts from his trial could not be found.

It soon became apparent that Terlesa Cowart, the court stenograph for Chavianowho’s trial, had transferred the the transcripts to her personal computer and deleted the files from the stenograph. However, Cowart’s personal computer became infected by a virus and all of the files on it were deleted, including the vital transcript notes.

Stenographers are expected to keep two records of the transcripts on both paper and digital disk. Cowart did not follow these regulations as it is believed that she didn’t bring enough rolls of paper to the court case and therefore relied on a digital copy alone.

The Miami Herald has reported that Cowart has been fired after the revelations. It was also reported that her former employer, Goldman Naccarato Patterson Vela & Associates Inc, have claimed that this hasn’t been the only occasion when she has run out of paper during a trial.

As Chavianowho is set to be given a new trial, it will only result in the family and friends of Acosta having to go through the anguish of reliving the event again because of the negligence of one person.

Ed Griffin, Miami-Dade State Attorney’s spokesman stated “The overturning of a murder conviction always means terrible pain for the victim’s family and frustration for prosecutors and police officers.”

As reported, if this wasn’t the only case where Cowart ran out of paper during a trial, there are bound to be concerns whether transcripts are still available from other trials. If it turns out that other transcripts have been lost, it may well result in more than one convicted prisoner being given a new trial.

This latest case of data loss emphasises the importance of backing up important data securely. Long gone are the days where it was satisfactory to keep one copy of an important file, especially on a computer. Hackers have become more sophisticated with their methods and important data is being put at an unnecessary risk of being lost if it hasn’t been backed up.

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