Iowa Supreme Court Building Photo credit: Ctjf83 via Wikimedia Commons (CC-By-SA 3.0)

DES MOINES – State Senator Amy Sinclair, R-Allerton, chair of the Iowa Senate Oversight Committee, announced that the committee would convene a meeting to review the Judicial Branch’s handling of the recent attempts to penetrate the Polk and Dallas County Courthouses.

On September 10, two men, Justin Winn of Naples, Fla. and  Gary Demercurio of Seattle, Wash. were apprehended by Dallas County Sheriff’s Deputies on the 3rd floor of the Dallas County Courthouse in Adel after midnight.

The same men apparently entered the Polk County Courthouse on September 9th.

The men work for a Colorado-based cybersecurity company, Coalfire, who had been hired by the state court administration to conduct security tests. The company had worked with the Judicial Branch in the past.

The state court administration said it entered into a $75,000 contract with Coalfire to test electronic access to state records, but the agreement indicates that a physical penetration test would be conducted as well. The contract was for three facilities, the Polk County Courthouse, Dallas County Courthouse, and State Judicial Building. There is no evidence that the State Judicial Building was breached.

The State Court Administration noted in a public statement that they and Coalfire had different interpretations of the agreement. They apologized to sheriffs and boards of supervisors of Dallas County and Polk County “for the confusion and impact these incidents have caused.”

They stated that they and Coalfire would conduct independent reviews into the incident.

“Iowans have a number of questions regarding the rationale, execution, and explanation of the attempts to break into these county courthouses,” Sinclair said. “The Senate will perform its oversight role to search for answers about how these staged burglaries improve the provision of services to Iowans by the Judicial Branch.”

The review meeting will be held in Room 116 of the Iowa State Capitol Building, the date and time are yet to be announced.

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