[ISN] Kevin Mitnick case drags on and on

From: mea culpa (jerichot_private)
Date: Wed Apr 29 1998 - 14:02:46 PDT

  • Next message: mea culpa: "Re: [ISN] Keene Hacker (college/hack/information)"

    Kevin Mitnick hacker case drags on and on
    By Kevin Poulsen, ZDTV
    April 28, 1998 3:49 PM PDT
    LOS ANGELES-- "Now, have we made any progress here?" 
    With those words, Judge Mariana Pfaelzer opened the latest hearing in the
    Kevin Mitnick case in L.A.'s U.S. District Court Monday. She might as well
    have said, "Let's get ready to rumble." 
    It's now been more than three years since a dramatic electronic manhunt
    ended with Mitnick's arrest, national headlines, books and movie deals. 
    Since then, the excitement has faded. The books oversaturated the market;
    the movies never got made.  And the once fast-paced story of a compulsive
    hacker with a goofy sense of humor is mired in its epilogue: the slow ride
    to disposition over the speed-bumps of the federal justice system. 
    In Round One, you may recall, Judge Pfaelzer asked prosecutors to submit a
    written proposal that would address the pre-trial concerns of Mitnick, his
    co-defendant Lew DePayne and their attorneys. She urged the government to
    be generous, and the defense attorneys to be reasonable. 
    So, how'd they do? Prosecutor Chris Painter made some serious concessions
    to the defense, including an offer to provide government exhibits 60 days
    before trial, instead of the usual 10. And after last-minute negotiations
    with Mitnick attorney Don Randolph, Painter agreed to hand over electronic
    copies of the computer-stored evidence. 
    But only some of it. The government wants to keep a tight lid on the
    "proprietary" software in the case, and on what it calls "hacker tools."
    The defense can review these files, but they can't have their own copies
    for analysis. 
    "They feel they should get a copy of everything," Painter said. "We went
    well beyond what we needed to do." 
    Ding, ding
    Bring on Round Two.
    "I think what the U.S. Attorney has done in this [proposal] is grossly
    unfair and avoids the issues in this case," DePayne attorney Richard
    Sherman told the court. "They've flicked this case to the side like a fly
    on a sleeve." 
    The problem for the defense: How to investigate the "proprietary" nature
    of files that you don't have. For that matter, what exactly is a "hacker
    "What we propose," offered Randolph, "is that it be given to us with a
    protective order." 
    The issuance of such an order would prohibit the defense from releasing
    the files, and is common practice in cases involving allegedly sensitive
    If the evidence was in paper form, the government would have probably
    agreed. But Painter says that with electronic evidence, "it's too easy for
    this to be disseminated by the defendants." 
    In other words, the government doesn't want the data to show up on a Web
    site in Antigua. 
    Strange bedfellows
    If Judge Pfaelzer had any hopes that the pre-trial issues would be settled
    quickly, they were short-lived. The court asked the defense attorneys to
    put their arguments in writing, and file them by Monday, May 11. She did
    not set a date for Round Three. 
    After the hearing, I found myself in a courthouse conference room for an
    impromptu press conference with defense attorneys Sherman and Randolph. 
    Sherman -- a tough, outspoken man who reminds me of James Caan -- thinks
    the government is stalling for a settlement, and they haven't even
    analyzed the evidence themselves. "They're trying to bluff their way
    through it,"  he said. "I was three seconds away from saying to the Court,
    'I want to show you the government doesn't know what it's doing: Let's go
    to trial next week.'" 
    Randolph just wants the case to move forward. He wants to give the files
    to a computer expert, find out what they mean, prepare his defense; and he
    suspects the government of trying to carve out a new, more restrictive
    standard of pre-trial procedure for hacker cases. At one stage he said to
    Sherman: "Don't you think, Richard, that this is beyond just you and me
    and Mitnick?"
    Randolph has a point. In other hacker cases, "proprietary" information has
    proven to be somewhat less than the secret, valuable crown jewels of
    corporate prosperity -- and defense attorneys were only able to prove it
    because they had a copy of the data to analyze. 
    Whether the government intends it or not, the resolutions made in the
    Mitnick case will probably become the standard for future computer crime
    Prosecution moving forward
    For his part, Painter insists the prosecution is trying to move the
    Mitnick case forward. 
    "We're not trying to carve out a paradigm," he told me.  "In this case
    there's a lot of electronic evidence. We've made that available for them
    to look at for about a year and a half, and with a few exceptions, they've
    rarely done that. 
    "We don't view this case as some bizarre special case.  We're trying to
    move things forward." 
    And moving forward, the Mitnick case is -- very, very slowly. 
    Subscribe: mail majordomot_private with "subscribe isn".
    Today's ISN Sponsor: Dimensional Communications (www.dim.com)

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Fri Apr 13 2001 - 12:52:07 PDT