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Juror Explains Guilty Vote In Terry Childs Case 537

alphadogg writes "Terry Childs, the San Francisco network administrator who refused to hand over passwords to his boss, was found guilty of one felony count of denying computer services, a jury found Tuesday. Now, one of those jurors (Jason Chilton, juror #4) is speaking out in an interview with IDG News Service's Bob McMillan: 'The questions were, first, did the defendant know he caused a disruption or a denial of computer service. It was rather easy for us to answer, "Yes there was a denial of service." And that service was the ability to administer the routers and switches of the FiberWAN. That was the first aspect of it. The second aspect was the denial to an authorized user. And for us that's what we really had to spend the most time on, defining who an authorized user was. Because that wasn't one of the definitions given to us.'"
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Juror Explains Guilty Vote In Terry Childs Case

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  • by badboy_tw2002 ( 524611 ) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @02:13PM (#32034150)

    Not really. I've served on a couple (in San Francisco even) and they pretty much just dismiss you and send you on your way right after the verdict. You can come back for sentencing if you want, but after weeks/months in the courtroom thats pretty much the last thing you want to do.

    I guess you could put a note in there or something, but most of the time unless you read up on the statutes in question you don't know how much jail time he's facing or whatnot. And personally, I think to be completely objective its probably better not to know. Your job is to apply the law and answer the question if beyond reasonable doubt did the defendant break the law. That's it. You have to do it objectively and I think knowing that you're personally responsible for sending some guy to jail for 20 years might make some people "iffy" on returning a guilty verdict. Its pretty black and white - there's no "guilty, but only by a little bit". Obviously there are some cases (death penalty, civil suits) where the jury does make the decision on the outcome after the "who won" phase, but for something like this its up to the judge.

    I would certainly hope that they give him time served considering he's been in jail a couple of years already. Having read a bunch on this and followed the story my opinion is that he's guilty, but honestly he should have just been fired and fined. Its not like he was trying to defraud the city or personally gain from this or from what I can tell had any malicious intent beyond "these guys are idiots". I wouldn't hire him, but in the grand scheme of things it sounds like he's just a jerk who could still be a productive member of society.

  • Re:Try what? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Loser4Now ( 1119949 ) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @02:22PM (#32034286)

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704471504574438900830760842.html [wsj.com]

    You're a criminal too. You just haven't been charged yet.

  • by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @02:39PM (#32034604) Journal

    As someone who saw through Terry Childs early on, I found myself in the minority here. I took one of my first big karma beatings just pointing out a few ways how this narrative of him being a idealistic professional locked up by his evil, stupid bosses was pretty obviously not possible, even just looking at the bare facts.

    There were lots of people on both sides all along. Here is one guy, modded up to +5 [slashdot.org]. If you find yourself getting modded down, it's probably because you come across as an angry old man, and I say that in the kindest possible way. For example, in this comment you say [slashdot.org]:

    You know, babyish insults kind of give up that you are a baby, David. And what's moronic? Contradicting yourself in a written medium like this, when it's so obvious. People generally read these in chronological order, you know.

    Not cool, it looks a lot like flamebait. Also, in your present post you come across as sounding like, "haha I was right, you were wrong!!!! Suck it losers!!!!" A lot of your posts sound like that, actually. You should work on that.

  • by lambent ( 234167 ) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @02:41PM (#32034652)

    the boss of a forklift driver may not necessarily be licensed or authorized to drive said forklift. in a case like that, where someone can cause significant damage by not being properly trained in how to use a resource, access should definitely be denied.

  • by dwinks616 ( 1536791 ) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @02:58PM (#32034976) Homepage
    That's what "Jury Nullification" is for. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jury_nullification [wikipedia.org]
  • by Humus B. Chittenbee ( 1774042 ) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @03:13PM (#32035162)
    @khasim - I am only a dabbler in the computer field but have well over 30 years in the legal arena. In criminal cases, often the prosecutor will present several charges regarding a single offense. For example - in what most would consider a straight forward burglary case, they may charge: burglary [for that is what crime occurred]; trespass [a lesser included crime]; vandalism/criminal mischief [lesser included for the damage to the window to get into the house]; and theft [lesser included crime.] All charges are 'tried' at the same time. So a jury that might not find for the burglary, may find for some/all the lesser included charges. Prosecutors also do it in the hopes of having some bargaining power when it comes to reaching a plea deal [i.e. - drop whatever charge[s] with a plea of guilty to 'X' charge] - which saves time and money for the courts. So the fact that he was not found guilty of ALL the charges is nearly irrelevant.
  • Re:Habeas Corpus (Score:4, Informative)

    by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @03:15PM (#32035202) Journal
    The bail was set high because he was seen as a flight risk. They arrested him after he went off to Nevada and withdrew $10,000 from the bank. They were worried he would try to escape or something if they let him out. It is fairly common, I believe.
  • by BlackSnake112 ( 912158 ) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @03:25PM (#32035368)

    There are convicted hackers/crackers (take your pick on term) who have been banned from using a computer or computer like device for X number of years. So I would say, yes the court can bar you from a profession. If you are banned from using a computer, being a sysadmin is kind of difficult.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 29, 2010 @03:30PM (#32035444)

    He *WAS* proven guilty. That's the whole point of a trial.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 29, 2010 @03:34PM (#32035506)

    Bzzt. Sorry. Please play again.

    He was convicted of a crime by a jury of his peers. That makes him a criminal. He will be sentenced as a criminal, and immediately take his part in the criminal justice system.

    The vanishingly small possibility of a reversal on appeal does not make him a non-criminal today. Maybe in your world OJ or Scott Peterson will win on appeal, so they are non-criminals. Good luck with that.

  • by hazem ( 472289 ) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @03:38PM (#32035596) Journal

    That's call Jury Nullification. It's often legal, but defense lawyers are typically not allowed to mention it as an option.

  • by zn0k ( 1082797 ) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @03:43PM (#32035686)

    There is. But if you work really, really hard you can prevent that. Password recovery doesn't really recover a password, it just circumvents the login process on boot. So he deleted the configuration from NVRAM (permanently stored) and left only the running-config (RAM, deleted on reboot) in place. Recovering the router would have left the router unconfigured. He had backups of the configs, but they were on an encrypted DVD that could only be read on his laptop as it required a passphrase to unlock, and the presence of a specific file, and he refused to make that available. The log servers he placed into locked containers with holes drilled for cable runs.

    And he did some of those things after being asked to hand over the network, so he specifically took action to prevent others from accessing the network.

    You can read up on those in the big Childs thread from the other day, where the same juror being interviewed posted in that thread, and divulged those details.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 29, 2010 @03:59PM (#32035918)

    After reading the article, I stand by points I made in earlier discussions.

    What we have here is a travesty and not justice. We have a juror who was given faulty jury instructions, who had relevant information withheld from them. And in the end, the decision made by the jurors amounted to what it looks like from the start - a collection of people who did not know anything about what they were looking at, scared by the prosecutors saying this is "w00h scary internets stuff", and making a faulty decision and a verdict that's a mockery of the law.

    The legal system is broken.

    umm...yeah...you sure you read the same article we did? Cus in the one the rest of us read, the juror is a Senior Network Engineer with a CCIE and a solid grasp of the technology.

  • Re:Try what? (Score:5, Informative)

    by PenguiN42 ( 86863 ) <taylork@NoSPaM.alum.mit.edu> on Thursday April 29, 2010 @04:25PM (#32036296) Journal

    Interesting that the two examples given in that article were cases where the defendant was eventually found NOT GUILTY.

  • Re:Try what? (Score:3, Informative)

    by StikyPad ( 445176 ) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @04:28PM (#32036334) Homepage

    And yet society still performs remarkably well, with very few people being convicted of crimes without intent. Even the examples in the book you reference are incredibly poor. E.g., the article makes it sound like one Mr. Councilman was innocently routing mail, and was charged merely because his server made copies incidental to that function. In reality, he was siphoning certain e-mails to use them for personal financial gain. It was not an "unknowing crime," it was a malicious act that was eventually (and erroneously, I believe) decided NOT to be a violation of federal wiretap laws:

    "Councilman directed Interloc employees to intercept and copy all incoming communications to subscriber dealers from Amazon.com, an Internet retailer that sells books and other products. Interloc's systems administrator modified the server's procmail recipe so that, before delivering any message from Amazon.com to the recipient's mailbox, procmail would copy the message and place the copy in a separate mailbox that Councilman could access. Thus, procmail would intercept and copy all incoming messages from Amazon.com before they were delivered to the recipient's mailbox, and therefore, before the intended recipient could read the message. This diversion intercepted thousands of messages, and Councilman and other Interloc employees routinely read the e-mail messages sent to Interloc subscribers in the hope of gaining a commercial advantage."

    According to the jury, the defendant in this case had clear intent to block access for malicious purposes. I trust their insights over anyone else on Slashdot, because they *saw* the evidence, they *heard* the testimony, and they acted accordingly. Yes, this was an unfortunate incident that could have been handled without the courts, but the party on trial was not without fault. When you play with fire...

  • by Todd Knarr ( 15451 ) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @04:54PM (#32036764) Homepage

    IIRC the reason the city had to shut down their VPN and reissue passwords was that the city had dumped the entire list of usernames and passwords into the public-available court record as part of one of their filings. Childs had nothing to do with that, and had the city not revealed all those passwords to the world they'd've had no need to disrupt their VPN at all.

  • Re:Another attempt. (Score:4, Informative)

    by Concern ( 819622 ) * on Thursday April 29, 2010 @05:12PM (#32037038) Journal


    Your line of argument is ridiculous.

    In the English language in the US of A, when someone loses in criminal court, and is declared guilty by a jury, we consider that person to be a criminal. We sentence them. We declare justice to have been served. The system does not need to work perfectly, nor do convictions need to be permanent, for this to be how our language, and our society, works.

    I can't believe I'm actually explaining this.

    Will it make you happy if, in the utterly ludicrous case that new facts come to light and he is later exonerated, I promise to come back here and to apologize and admit my mistake? Because I actually would.

    Until that time, what I've said stands quite well.

  • by FrangoAssado ( 561740 ) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @05:38PM (#32037378)

    If Terry Childs really thought the only person authorized to receive the information was the mayor

    Did you even read the interview? During normal work (before all the confusion), he was asked to create some user accounts. He did it and send an email with the created usernames/passwords to his boss and a copy to his boss's boss.

    So, no, he didn't really think the only person authorized to receive access information was the mayor. That's just the excuse he used later for not wanting yo give up control of the system.

  • by BBTaeKwonDo ( 1540945 ) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @06:08PM (#32037774)
    Mistrial? Would you mind reading the Wikipedia link, especially this part:

    The 1895 decision in Sparf v. U.S. written by Justice John Marshall Harlan held that a trial judge has no responsibility to inform the jury of the right to nullify laws. It was a 5-4 decision. This decision, often cited, has led to a common practice by United States judges to penalize anyone who attempts to present legal argument to jurors and to declare a mistrial if such argument has been presented to them. In some states, jurors are likely to be struck from the panel during voir dire if they will not agree to accept as correct the rulings and instructions of the law as provided by the judge.
    Recent court rulings have contributed to the prevention of jury nullification. A 1969 Fourth Circuit decision, U.S. v. Moylan, affirmed the right of jury nullification, but also upheld the power of the court to refuse to permit an instruction to the jury to this effect. In 1972, in United States v. Dougherty, 473 F.2d 1113, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued a ruling similar to Moylan that affirmed the de facto power of a jury to nullify the law but upheld the denial of the defense's chance to instruct the jury about the power to nullify. In 1988, the Sixth Circuit upheld a jury instruction that "There is no such thing as valid jury nullification." In 1997, the Second Circuit ruled that jurors can be removed if there is evidence that they intend to nullify the law, under Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure 23(b). The Supreme Court has not recently confronted the issue of jury nullification.

    So there might have been a mistrial if the jurors had been told about nullification, but there certainly wouldn't be a mistrial if the jurors were not told about nullification.

    Jury nullification is a power that juries have, but that doesn't mean they have to be told about it.

  • by Rene S. Hollan ( 1943 ) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @06:39PM (#32038096)
    I never liked the idea of a plea bargain.

    I negotiated a plea bargain for disorderly conduct in order to close the case on a pending charge of felony assault. Not because I feared having to defend against what I was arrested for, but because the prosecution appeared to not formally charge me for lack of a strong enough case. (At my arraignment, I formally identified myself, expecting the prosecution to present their charges, and the attorney left!) The case could have been left open for up to five years, and I'm in circumstances where an open case was far worse than a disorderly conduct conviction.

    The problem here is that, after an arrest and finding of probable cause, the prosecution can take an inordinate amount of time to actually charge you. Sure, you can post bail, and be free, but the accusation can hang over your head for years before trial, if charges are ever pressed. Because they can be pressed on short notice, your circumstances are very much in limbo.

    Far better would be if the accused could force the issue of trial without having to sit in jail: if incarcerated, one has a right to a speedy trial -- within 60 days in WA. But, if one posts bail, trial has to take place within 90 days of formal charges being laid. and those can be "sat on" for years (as defined by the state's statute of limitations, if any). Further, the court can order release one one not formally charged, and the same "sitting on" can occur.

    Of course, the prosecution gets "one shot" to press formal charges, because of the prohibition against double jeopardy, so if they think their case is weak, they can sit on it. I say that is wrong.

    From a finding of probable cause to a trial on the evidence should be a swift process. This would prevent arrests on the flimsiest evidence. After all, there is nothing stopping law enforcement to get necessary warrants to gather the evidence they need over a period of time.

  • by sbeckstead ( 555647 ) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @06:57PM (#32038302) Homepage Journal
    Except that they can not freeze assets that you use to defend yourself.
  • by _Sprocket_ ( 42527 ) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @07:00PM (#32038328)

    That said, when your manager asks you for access to a system, you give it to them -- you can write for the record that you're doing so under protest and list the reasons, but you do it.

    It bugs me that so many seem to be thinking this is the lesson to get out of all this. The lesson SHOULD be to ensure that you understand the policies that apply to situations like privileged access. And in the lack of a set policy, get someone to give you guidance in writing. Then follow that closely.

    In simple environments, your manager is probably going to be on the short list of people that should have access. But that's not always the case. I've been in environments where my level of access was shared by some co-workers but it took climbing a couple levels of management before you'd find someone with the same authorization. And I've also had to insist on policy while dealing with politics and egos. This wasn't about me serving my ego or protecting my job (per se) - it was about me being very aware of my requirements to follow policy and how those policies worked.

    Military lore has lots of examples. One story has a base commander visiting an ammo facility on a rainy day. He shows up early without his escort and the sky opens up. He dashes to the nearest shelter - an ammo bunker with a young airman on the other side of the security door. The airman checks the access list and, sure enough, the General isn't on it. The usual "do you know who I am" and "yes sir, but you are not authorized" conversation ensues until an aghast shop chief comes running up to the scene. The shop chief is on the list, rushes the VIP in to the shelter, and proceeds to chew out the young airman. The Base Commander interrupts, notes that procedure was properly followed, and praises the nervous troop on his proper conduct.

    Of course, things don't always work out that way. Even when you have proper policies to follow. But if the legal paperwork starts to fly, you best find yourself on the right side of any policy that exists (and fight to make sure it does).

  • by zn0k ( 1082797 ) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @07:27PM (#32038558)

    >>> If you look for BengalsUF's other posts in that thread you can see that he is the juror interviewed in the article this thread is about.

    Preview, preview, preview. It took out the below link:

    http://yro.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1633482&cid=32016846 [slashdot.org]

Make it myself? But I'm a physical organic chemist!