I haven't written much about the Terry Childs case recently, mainly because there's not much to tell. Childs is still in jail, his bail is still set at a ridiculous $5 million, and he still hasn't had his day in court. It's been nearly 18 months since his arrest for refusing to hand over administrative passwords to San Francisco's city network.
In that time, three of the four charges against him were dismissed, yet numerous motions for bail reduction have been denied, presumably because the judges are terrified of what they don't understand, and the DA is playing that up. Regardless of what you might think of Childs' culpability in this whole saga, I don't think there's anyone who could think that spending 18 months in a city jail without a trial is in any way a reasonable situation. Anyone involved in this case within the San Francisco city government and prosecutor's office should be deeply ashamed at how this case has (or hasn't) played out.
[ InfoWorld contributing editor Paul Venezia has led the way in reporting the bizarre case of Terry Childs. Consult our InfoWorld special report for a complete index of that coverage. ]
So what's the holdup? I wish I knew. It's probable that the DA has done no homework on the technical issues in play here and is instead more than willing to use the Frankenstein offense: It's different, so it must be killed. On the other hand, maybe the city did figure out just how ridiculous the whole scenario is but was too far down the line to pull back the reins and is continuing with the prosecution just to save face.
But almost guaranteed is the fact that the DA wants this to fade into obscurity and then get it over with. In the meantime, Terry Childs will spend yet another Christmas in jail.
But this Christmas may be different from the last -- opening statements in the case are set to begin on Monday, and reportedly Gavin Newsom, the mayor of San Francisco, will be called as a witness. You may recall that Childs gave the passwords to Newsom shortly after being incarcerated. That will certainly be some interesting testimony.
If you've been following this case at all, you'll recall that in the summer of 2008, this blog was filled with speculation regarding public statements made by the city and the general lack of a technical foundation. It then proceeded to get worse, with some comments seemingly made up out of whole cloth, put forth by those who lacked even a basic level of understanding of the technical nature of the case. The "1,100 modems" comment certainly comes to mind. That's died down considerably, probably because they would've had to hire a fiction writer to keep up the initial pace.