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1:26 AM Mon, Oct. 15th

Judge allows lawyer access to accused clerk's personnel records

The lawyer for a former Superior Court clerk charged with theft lost a bid to keep the clerk's personnel records closed.

Judge Michael Burke on Monday denied the motion filed by Mohave County Deputy Public Defender Steve Hauser.

Hauser wanted to suppress a subpoena for records that include the employment application, resume and other documents about Cynthia Kay Peterkin.

Peterkin, 46, is charged with stealing more than $50,000 while working as a clerk at the Bullhead City office of Mohave County Superior Court.

She was fired April 25.

Because Peterkin worked for Mohave County Superior Court, Burke is hearing the case to avoid conflict of interest.

He is a visiting La Paz County Superior Court judge.

Hauser argued that county attorney's office exceeded its lawful authority in issuing the subpoena and that her records were private.

Chief Deputy Mohave County Attorney Jace Zack said the clerk of the court issued the subpoena, not his office, and that it was standard proceed in Mohave County to subpoena documents.

Hauser also filed a motion for dismissal of the charges or return of the case back to a grand jury, saying one of the four theft counts amounted to his client being tried twice on the same charge.

Burke continued arguments on that motion until Aug.


Peterkin, who was not in court, is free on $10,000 bond.

She was indicted on the theft charges May 1 and a felony warrant was issued.

Peterkin fled her Mohave Valley home before officers arrived.

She turned herself in at the Mohave County Sheriff's office in Kingman the next day.

In three of the counts of theft, Peterkin is charged with stealing $3,000 or more in cash or checks during each of the first three months of this year.

The fourth count charges Peterkin with stealing $25,000 or more in cash or checks from June 2002 through April 25.

The first three counts of theft are punishable by up to eight years, nine months in prison for each charge.

The fourth count is punishable up to 12 years, six months in prison.

Peterkin has a prior conviction from Texas, which could increase prison time.

Clerks at the Superior Court's satellite office in Lake Havasu City and Bullhead City normally fax records of deposits each day back to the Kingman office.

Deposits come from fees paid for marriage licenses, divorce proceedings, passports or other legal documents.

Fees collected each day can range from $80 to several thousand dollars.

A review report led to an investigation, which showed money collected not matching deposit receipts that Peterkin faxed from Bullhead City, according to court records.

The investigation showed only one deposit made during January, February and March.

Peterkin, 46, worked for several lawyers in Bullhead City before working at the Superior Court.

Peterkin, going by the name of Cynthia Casebeer, was convicted and served several months in prison in 1985 in Austin, Texas, for aggravated theft for writing stolen checks between $750 and $20,000 in May 1984.