The Terry Childs trial has dragged on for eight weeks now, and the defense hasn't even started presenting its case. I'm nowhere near the courtroom -- I'm on the other side of the country, in fact -- but I've talked to several folks who were there. Each one volunteered that jurors seemed bored to tears; some in the jury box may even have been sleeping. Seems my comments last year about the potential problems of seating a jury for this trial had some foundation after all.
But last week the action picked up a bit. San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom testified, and while he may no longer be running for California governor, he still has sufficient star power to thrill a crowd. If you recall, Childs refused to divulge the passwords to the city's network to a group of random city employees, was subsequently arrested, and then stated that he'd only give that information to the nominal owner of the network, the mayor. So Newsom, Starbucks cup in hand, took the stand.
[ 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. ]
The San Francisco Chronicle posted a breathless piece reporting on the mayor's testimony that reads more like a gossip column than a news story. It was very clear that the mayor was the center of attention, not the case or the defendant.
What's curious about that article, however, are the comments. They seem to be running about 10-to-1 in Childs' favor. Who knows the demographic represented, but if those commenters are mostly non-techies, then it would seem public opinion of this case has tilted in favor of the defense. Maybe that's an indicator of the outcome; maybe not.
A few items in that article did catch my eye, however. The first was that the password Childs used for the FiberWAN was 28 characters long. That's nearly the length of an MD5 hash. To illustrate, bf7d87e2b048cc615107b193eab is a 28-character string. That's a hugely secure password and very much in line with the idea that Childs was intensely concerned with network security, which is the primary reason he's in this predicament in the first place.