Off the Record: Unlawful Disposition

Tune in monthly for a curated collection of articles we found interesting on a broad range of topics, some which are directly related to records management and others which might share common themes.

No, we didn’t write these articles—hence the name of this series, “Off the Record”—but fortunately, we didn’t need to in order to share the knowledge with our subscribers. Let us know in the comments below what topics you are interested in learning more about!


Local governments and state agencies in Texas follow the Local and State Retention Schedules. Hopefully, your government or agency has not experienced nor witnessed unlawful disposition of records. However, this month we are highlighting three examples of unlawful disposition of records as a reminder that these kinds of events do occur.

ZRP financial records destroyed – The Herald

Financial records from the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) General Headquarters were reportedly burned and destroyed in 2017. This unlawful destruction was allegedly committed to destroy evidence of corrupt and illicit payments to companies linked to relatives of top police officials.

Comptroller’s Office allegedly shredding documents while under Federal Investigation – Fox Baltimore

According to leaked emails, an ex-employee of the Baltimore City Comptroller’s Office has been shredding documents at City Hall while the office is under federal investigation. Baltimore City’s record retention policy requires elected offices to receive permission from the Maryland State Archivist before destroying documents.

Lessons Learned: Destroying Relevant Evidence Can Be Catastrophic in Litigation – Smith Anderson

In this case, QueTel Corporation v. Abbas, the Defendant engaged in spoliation—willfully engaging in conduct that resulted in the loss or destruction of evidence at a time when the party knew, or should have known, that the destroyed evidence was or could be relevant in litigation. The district court found that, “as a result of the cease-and-desist letter, Defendants were on notice of potential litigation and had a duty to preserve the destroyed evidence, and that the Defendants intentionally destroyed the evidence in bad faith, with the intent of depriving QueTel of the evidence’s use in the instant litigation.” You can view he full court opinion here.

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