Unless these uses are synonymous -- normal use, as a regular employee accessing data across the network, and administrative access, as in a network engineer logging into routers and switches -- then the statue doesn't seem to apply. Did Childs' withholding of the passwords prevent administrative access to the network? Yes. Does that violate the wording of California 502(c) (5)? It does if you destroy the definitional barriers between "user" and "administrator."
The judge also asserts that this denial was highlighted by several other factors, including the fact that several departments requested to be connected to the FiberWAN during the time when Childs was holding onto the passwords. As anyone who works in the industry knows, the time between a request to be connected to a network and the time when it is physically possible to do so can be several weeks, if not months. If these requests were made on or about the time Childs was arrested, there is absolutely no way that they could be considered delayed solely by the lack of administrative access. Fiber needs to be run, routers need to be procured, designs need to be modified, possibly even IP subnets need to be changed -- a whole pile of work is required before anyone even logs into the routers to add the site.
Regardless, the judge's decision to dismiss the three modem counts is bittersweet -- the language used in the written decision clearly states that the judge believes that Childs violated the "denial of service" portion of the statute. This will hurt Childs at trial. However, when the trial begins, Childs will have been in jail for nearly 16 months for refusing to divulge passwords to anyone but the mayor of San Francisco -- the nominal owner of the network. If he's convicted, IT admins better start handing over passwords to whomever asks -- you wouldn't want the same treatment. (Case update: Following the dismissal of the three counts, another judge again denied Childs' bail reduction motion on Monday. He remains in jail on $5 million bail.)
Are the judge's arguments contradictory?
Another troubling aspect of McCarthy's decision is that some of the reasoning that he used to support the "denial of service" charge seems to be at odds with the reasoning he used to dismiss the other three charges.