Amherst Co. court docs found in Food Lion parking lot raise concern
AMHERST COUNTY, Va. (WSET) -- When ABC 13 showed Madison Heights resident Donald McDaniel a copy of a court document with his name on it, he recognized it immediately.
It had his contact information and Social Security number, and it was found with several other records in a Food Lion parking lot near the Amherst County District Court.
"It's crazy. It really is. I don't know how it got out there," he said. "That's my personal information. Anybody can come in here and be me."
Amherst resident Ida Christian found the court documents, which involved different people and cases and included a criminal case summons, subpoena for witnesses and a driver's license suspension notice.
"I got out the car and I found one right here," Christian said, pointing down to where she first saw the first one blowing around the lot. "I picked it up, then I walked a little ways up, pick up another one, then on the way out, I was driving out, I seen two more."
She said the paper trail led to the dumpster behind the Amherst County Sheriff's Office and Amherst General District Court, which are located next to the store.
Christian said she brought them to the Sheriff's Office, but because it was on a Sunday, the door was locked. However, she saw a custodian and explained what she had found.
"He said, 'Give them here, because you'll get in trouble if you keep them.' So, I gave him one," she said, explaining why she held onto the others. "I only gave him one, because I felt like somebody else needed to know about these social security numbers flying over the Food Lion parking lot."
Amherst County Administrator Dean Rodgers told ABC 13 the court is responsible for properly destroying their documents.
District Court Clerk Beverly Lewis said in an email she's not sure how the copies ended up in the parking lot. She referred us to some district court guidelines that read:
"All court records should be destroyed by a method which renders the court records illegible, such as, shredding or burning" after the appropriate time frame.
Both officials declined to go on camera and said the documents are not confidential and the public can obtain copies of them.
Residents said they still want to bring attention to the matter. McDaniel said he is thankful he was made aware of the situation.
"If it was my info, I wouldn't want everybody to know about it," said Christian.
The court clerk also previously mentioned in an email they were reviewing their document disposal practices and would make any necessary changes.