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Judge Won't Lower $5M Bail For Jailed SF IT Admin 429

Posted by timothy
from the wait-for-asperger's-defense dept.
snydeq writes "San Francisco County Judge Charles Haines has denied Terry Childs' motion to reduce his $5 million bail, alluding to 'public security concerns,' according to Richard Shikman, who is representing Childs in court. The ruling comes in the wake of a recent decision to drop three of the four changes that have been levied against Childs, who has spent the past 14 months in jail. The fourth charge — that Childs violated a California statute regarding illegal denial of service for the San Francisco FiberWAN — has been called into question by those closely monitoring the case. As a point of comparison, the San Francisco Felony Bail Schedule lists a $1 million bail for the most serious crimes, such as sexual assault of a child, aggravated arson, or kidnapping for ransom. Prosecutors have argued that the bail is appropriate because, if released, Childs could cause damage to San Francisco's network."
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Judge Won't Lower $5M Bail For Jailed SF IT Admin

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  • by grahamsaa (1287732) on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @06:42PM (#29279263)
    The right to a speedy trial is a pipe dream in most states in the US. If a defendant files any motions whatsoever, all time spent up to and during the argument of those motions is not counted against the prosecution. If the prosecution asks to reschedule a hearing they are often given the benefit of the doubt, sometimes 2, 3, even 4 times. Cases that are won on speedy trial grounds, particularly cases involving felonies, are incredibly rare in the US. Speedy trial is technically a constitutional right, but in practice, it's next to worthless to a defendant.

    There's also a constitutional right protecting us from excessive bail, but it doesn't look like the judge cares about that either, and even if bail was appealed, it would be held up on appeal.
  • 14 Months? (Score:5, Informative)

    by lax-goalie (730970) on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @06:44PM (#29279285)

    Doesn't this guy have a sixth amendment right to a speedy trial?

    Besides (and Google may have led me the wrong CA statute) but it look like the penalty for the remaining charge could be as little as a $5,000 fine. It also seems to have an out:

    "Subdivision (c) does not apply to punish any acts which are committed by a person within the scope of his or her lawful employment. For purposes of this section, a person acts within the scope of his or her employment when he or she performs acts which are reasonably necessary to the performance of his or her work assignment."

  • Re:Witchcraft (Score:5, Informative)

    by whatajoke (1625715) on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @06:57PM (#29279413)
    Most judges in USA are elected.
  • by KwKSilver (857599) on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @07:22PM (#29279619)
    This whole thing has seemed overblown from the get go to me. I thought it had been cleared up a while back ..obviously not. My guess is that he stepped on some politician's/power broker's toes somehow, and "they" are punishing him this way; it's a classic corrupt government gambit. Vindictive state and local politicos have a lot of ways to screw people who lack friends in high places. Wonder what the poor bastard did, refuse to help some honcho spy on or frame someone?.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @07:39PM (#29279799)

    The pervert/sickos they just caught in SF had their bail set at $500,000 each
    for imprisoning and raping kids for 20 years

    10% of what this admins bail is set at
    good to see the USA court has its priorities set
    raping kids is only 10% of the risk to society than this guy?

  • by DragonWriter (970822) on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @07:55PM (#29279947)

    Maybe I don't remember HS Civic's very well but I thought the point of bail was ONLY to prevent flight, not that it had been redefined to be large as a result of danger the innocent (until proved otherwise) person poses.

    You badly misremember your HS civics, or were badly misinformed in that class, then. Bail has historically been discretionary, and dangerousness has almost always been a consideration. It was briefly, in non-capital federal cases, restricted to a guarantee of appearance under the Bail Reform Act of 1966, but considerations of dangerousness for non-capital defendants were restored in the District of Columbia Court Reform and Criminal Procedure Act of 1970 and, more broadly, in the 1984 revisions to federal bail law.

  • Re:Only if... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Cramer (69040) on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @08:00PM (#29279987) Homepage

    If you're up-to-date on the case, you should remember he turned off password recovery. The only way to reset the password is erase the configuration (NVRAM) and there are no (known) archived backups. He was the only one with the knowledge to rebuild a config from memory. He did this on purpose to stop people in the field from altering the configuration (passwords, routes, anything)

    If someone erased the config on any of my gear, I'd be pissed. And I keep backups.

  • Re:take that SF (Score:2, Informative)

    by e2d2 (115622) on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @08:04PM (#29280021)

    Bail is not supposed to keep them from doing more harm. Bail is meant to make certain the defendant appears for court. Every person released before trial can commit another crime, but yet they should be released. Why? Because "may commit a crime" isn't reason enough to detain someone.

  • Re:Disagreement (Score:3, Informative)

    by IICV (652597) on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @08:08PM (#29280057)

    It's been a while, so you probably don't remember what led to this situation.

    Here's how I remember it: Terry's superiors asked for the passwords. He refused, because in his estimation handing them over would have been a breach of security (which is true - you don't give the PHB root access, because he doesn't need it and will probably abuse it). They fired him, jailed him on some trumped-up charges (as we can infer from 75% of the charges against him being thrown out), and asked again. He refused, but since he was now fired and in jail he offered to hand the passwords over to the mayor of San Fransisco, presumably because this way someone outside of his chain of command would know what was going on.

    It wasn't even a matter of losing control over his "creation" - it was all about his PHBs wanting more power than they should have, and him rightfully refusing to give it to them.

  • by dkleinsc (563838) on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @08:12PM (#29280093) Homepage

    Since when is behaving like a raging asshole a crime?

    Office politics can get you fired. They can't get you locked up.

  • by FrankDrebin (238464) on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @08:18PM (#29280149) Homepage
    ... when he has to register as a Childs offender.
  • Re:Only if... (Score:5, Informative)

    by element-o.p. (939033) on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @08:52PM (#29280407) Homepage
    All of which is irrelevant because Childs released the passwords to the mayor in July of '08 [infoworld.com]. That leaves an awfully long time for S.F. to have changed the passwords and gone through the configs with a fine-toothed comb.
  • Re:No confidence (Score:5, Informative)

    by mrchaotica (681592) * on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @09:16PM (#29280539)

    It also means that Childs reneged on that trust. Any sysadmin that keeps secret passwords, and won't divulge them to the actual owners, deserves at LEAST firing

    There were no "actual owners" for Childs to divulge the passwords to! In fact, Childs was both fired and arrested because he insisted on following the documented password policy even though unqualified-but-politically-powerful assholes demanded that he break it. Agreeing to give the passwords to the mayor, a compromise he made while already in jail, was actually the only thing he did wrong (because, according to the policy, the mayor wasn't entitled to be given the passwords either)!

  • Re:Yes. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @10:03PM (#29280853)

    Which requires them to know what all of the equipment is, and potentially all of the software installed in all of it. Information for which Childs was supposed to be the source.

    I'm not saying that the $5 million bail is right, but it's not at all inconceivable that Childs could cause damage to that network if he chose to do so.

    Childs should not be the "source" of knowledge on their equipment. Their internal inventory and documentation policies are the source for that information. Childs designed and maintained the network, he did document it, even going so far as to Copyright the network design. Childs even followed policy when he refused to disclose his password to members of the San Francisco Police Department, representatives from HR, and an unknown group of people on the phone.

    San Francisco government policy, from http://www.sfgov.org/site/uploadedfiles/dtis/coit/Policies_Forms/CCISDA_security.pdf [sfgov.org]

    "Password Policy"
    As such, all County employees (including contractors, vendors, and temporary staff with access to County systems) are responsible for taking the appropriate steps, as outlined below, to select and secure their passwords.
    All system-level passwords (e.g., root, enable, NT admin, application administration accounts, etc.) must be changed on at least a monthly basis"
    "Do not share County passwords with anyone, including administrative assistants or secretaries.

    All passwords are to be treated as sensitive, confidential County information.

    Here is a list of things to avoid
    -Telling your boss your password.
    -Talking about a password in front of others.
    -Telling your co-workers your password while on vacation."

    This is a corrupt government using its influence over the DA and judicial appointees to persecute Mr. Childs. After this last charge is throw out, Mr. Childs will undoubtedly counter-sue in a different jurisdiction to stay clear of the corruption in the SF government.

  • Re:take that SF (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @10:14PM (#29280915)

    Just because he works in IT doesn't mean he was well paid, and it certainly doesn't mean he was rich. It's not like the guy was a Google co-founder or something, he was a civil servant for a medium sized city. I doubt he made more than $80k a year (not as much as it sounds in San Francisco).

    $149,269 in 2007 according to public documents.

    source: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/07/14/BAOS11P1M5.DTL [sfgate.com]

  • Re:Yes. (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @10:23PM (#29280969)

    Really, from how this case has been covered, sounds like the average adult could bring the entire network down by yelling really loudly into an electrical socket.

  • Re:Disagreement (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @10:26PM (#29280979)
    Wrong.

    San Francisco official password policy

    "Password Policy"
    As such, all County employees (including contractors, vendors, and temporary staff with access to County systems) are responsible for taking the appropriate steps, as outlined below, to select and secure their passwords.
    All system-level passwords (e.g., root, enable, NT admin, application administration accounts, etc.) must be changed on at least a monthly basis"
    "Do not share County passwords with anyone, including administrative assistants or secretaries.

    All passwords are to be treated as sensitive, confidential County information.

    Here is a list of things to avoid
    -Telling your boss your password.
    -Talking about a password in front of others.
    -Telling your co-workers your passwordwhile on vacation."

    http://www.sfgov.org/site/uploadedfiles/dtis/coit/Policies_Forms/CCISDA_security.pdf [sfgov.org]
  • Re:too easy (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Cowpat (788193) on Tuesday September 01, 2009 @10:54PM (#29281139) Journal

    immunity for officials != immunity for the city.

    You're probably right that the DA can't be sued personally (that's a symptom of the general failure in the US to understand that government != state), but that doesn't mean that the department can't be sued, or that the department can't take action against the individuals responsible for exposing it to liability.

  • Re:too easy (Score:5, Informative)

    by eosp (885380) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @12:49AM (#29281675) Homepage
    In fact, the "bizarre meeting" was actually split between two physical locations, so he couldn't see who was demanding the password at the other end. Even if you're required to give a password to another person, doing so in such a situation is a Very Bad Idea and that's why he wanted to give it directly to the mayor.
  • Re:Disagreement (Score:3, Informative)

    by MartinSchou (1360093) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @01:43AM (#29281889)

    There's a difference between telling your boss "your password" and giving the master passwords to your boss.

    Did you miss the bit where he refused to divulge passwords to a group of unknown people? Or just this bit from the policy:

    Talking about a password in front of others.

    A password, generic, unspecified. Not his password, a password. That doesn't mean "the password to reset the score in Solitaire, but everything else is alright".

  • by redelm (54142) on Wednesday September 02, 2009 @09:42AM (#29284643) Homepage
    Short-sighted, maybe. But more likely playing the odds: most of the people DAs charge _are_ guilty and/or _will_ cave to pressure. Huge problems happen when an innocent person enters the meatgrinder. And not just for them if they are resolute.

    The real culprit here is lazyiness/"efficiency" (cashless corruption) -- many police jump at anything to "solve the crime", and DAs are lazy about reviewing their cases. Mostly because they can get away with it. When they can't, smart DAs avoid escalation and cut their losses early. This dude has not, so risks going down bigtime. Unfortunately only max disbarment, not prison.

    _

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