Criminal Court Clerk hid an arrest record from public search, DA’s office

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In a decision now rebuked by the Metro Department of Law, a Chief Deputy Clerk at Nashville’s Criminal Court Clerk’s office admits to facilitating the alteration of public records to assist a woman who did not want her recent arrest to appear in public search results or public records requests. A woman in her mid-fifties from Brentwood was taken into custody in late March on multiple felony charges. Though she was now a criminal defendant, she had previously been a victim in an unrelated prior incident. She was part of the Secretary of State’s “Safe At Home” program, which allowed her to use a government-provided mailing address for all legal matters, mailing, and registrations. The program does not provide any accommodations other than a way to hide your address from government and other records. She used this status to convince Julius Sloss, Chief Deputy under Criminal Court Clerk Howard Gentry, to make her new arrest record completely disappear for anyone who searched for it – even in person at the Clerk’s office.

Once her arrest was processed and she was released from jail, she was determined not to have her arrest appear in the search results on the Criminal Court Clerk’s website, which allows the public to search for all criminal cases, case history, and other details. While the Safe at Home program already allowed her to use a “hideaway address,” which in her case was a state military compound, she was not satisfied that her charges and criminal proceedings were in the public domain, searchable by anyone.

She says she contacted Julian Sloss, Chief Deputy of the Criminal Court Clerk’s Office, and he agreed to remove her name from all record searches. Due to the interconnected systems, this replaced her legal name with her initials across the network. Even the office of the District Attorney, who searched for her case in the electronic system Monday morning, was unable to produce any search results to view her proceedings. A routine in-person request to a deputy clerk also resulted in a denial that any records existed under her name.

After Scoop: Nashville began to inquire about the modification of the public record, Howard Gentry’s office stated late Monday that after consultation with Metro Legal, they had restored her record with her full name, and it was once again searchable. The action of hiding a criminal arrest record from the public is certainly something that many criminal defendants would appreciate, and it remains unclear why the clerk’s office chose this affluent female from Brentwood to be the first. According to Julian Sloss, he has only previously redacted the names of criminal defendants when they are juveniles, which is in accordance with current open records laws.

In 2018, we reported on Howard Gentry’s office leaking thousands of social security numbers of criminal defendants, after which they had to provide credit protection to the impacted citizens. In 2021, an email from Gentry’s office says they expunged recordings of an MNPD Officer who lied on the stand.

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