Local attorney, judicial candidate arrested for allegedly hacking into court computers

Crime

SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – A local attorney and candidate for a seat on the Louisiana Second Circuit Court of Appeals Tuesday afternoon surrendered at the Caddo Correctional Center after a warrant had been issued for her arrest.

Trina Chu, who served as a law clerk for former Second Circuit Court of Appeals Chief Judge Henry Brown, is charged with one count of offenses against intellectual property and three counts of trespass against state computers. Both offenses are felonies.

Chu is accused of hacking into computer files of three appeals judges in July 2018, who were writing an opinion in a case involving a close friend of hers and sharing them with her friend. Her friend had been involved in a long-term relationship with Brown, and Brown had recused from the case.

The alleged hacking was discovered when a secretary checked a copy machine that ran out of toner and shut down. It was then that the secretary saw that someone had tried to print the confidential information that included drafts of the pending opinion involving Chu’s friend.

Brown’s colleagues on the Second Circuit fired Chu and filed a complaint with the Caddo Parish Sheriff.

According to Caddo Parish Sheriff Steve Prator, a warrant was issued for Chu’s arrest following a lengthy investigation that involved procuring search warrants served to email providers, digital forensic examinations, along with in-person interviews.

At the end of the investigation, CPSO Detective Douglass Smith determined that during Chu’s brief time as Brown’s law clerk she copied sensitive court documents from the Second Circuit using a USB flash drive.    

Chu’s friend, Hanh Williams, had been sued in Caddo District Court by a former employer’s estate for breaching her fiduciary duty as a trustee for him. A jury found her responsible and charged her $1.1 million in damages for breach of duty to the Trust and determined she owed his estate $460,605.

Williams appealed the decision and asked the appellate judges to overturn it.

In their August 15, 2018 30-page opinion, the three appellate judges who heard the case upheld the trial court’s decision.  

On July 24, Chu filed to run for the Second Circuit’s 3rd District Section 2C seat, against incumbent, Jeanette Garrett, but it wasn’t her first rodeo. In 2014, she ran for Caddo District Judge against Charles Tutt, who won the seat. In 2016, she ran to fill the unexpired Second Circuit Court of Appeal seat vacated when Judge James Stewart ran for Caddo District Attorney.

In that race, she came in third place behind winner, then Caddo Juvenile Court Judge Shonda Stone and second-place finisher, Shreveport City Judge Sheva Sims.

Chu is being held on $20,000 bond.

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