Harris County

Harris County court proceedings ‘Zoom bombed’ with explicit images; sheriff’s office investigating

Several Harris County Courts at Law experienced unauthorized screen sharing, or “Zoom bombing,” in which pornographic material was displayed Tuesday during the daily docket.

Pornographic images were displayed Tuesday during virtual proceedings for several Harris County Courts at Law, which operate out of the Harris County Criminal Justice Center, 1201 Franklin St.

The Harris County Sheriff's Office is investigating after pornographic material was displayed Tuesday during virtual proceedings for multiple Houston courts.

Holly Huffman, a spokesperson for the Harris County Courts Office of Court Management, said in a statement that "explicit images" were seen during the daily docket in several Harris County Courts at Law. She said the unauthorized screen sharing, or "Zoom bombing," was quickly reported to court administrative staff and the feeds were "immediately shut down."

"The incident has been referred to the Harris County Sheriff's Office Judicial Threat Unit for further investigation and criminal charges may be filed," Huffman said. "In the meantime, additional security measures related to Zoom screen sharing have been implemented for all County Courts at Law."

Officials didn’t say how many courts were impacted and what specific security measures have been implemented. Huffman said the incident caused only brief interruptions to court proceedings, adding the office of court management is “not aware of any proceedings that had to be canceled or rescheduled.”

Jason Spencer, the chief of staff for the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, said in an email Wednesday that its investigation was “just getting underway.”

“We’ll be looking to determine what exactly happened, what criminal laws might have been violated, and who’s responsible,” he said. “No charges have been filed as of yet.”

Huffman said it was the first instance of unauthorized screen sharing during county court at law proceedings since the courts began utilizing Zoom in 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We have provided thousands of hours of online court proceedings since then with no such issue," she said. "We are now reviewing our processes and procedures to see what, if any, additional security measures may be needed as we work to strike a balance between ensuring public access to the judiciary and preventing such an incident from happening again."

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