Terry Childs: State of the case

The wheels of justice are indeed turning slowly

It's been 10 months since Terry Childs was arrested and jailed for refusing to divulge the administrative log-ins to the San Francisco FiberWAN. Recently, the case has fallen off the radar of the mainstream media, and there really hasn't been much to tell in the past few months. Childs is still in jail, he has not yet plead in the case, and there has been no court date set for a trial.

There have been several motions and other legal instruments filed since December, but a new judge has been assigned to the case, and the hearings on those motions have been delayed for over six weeks earlier this year. These postponements were introduced by the judge, who stated that he needed the time to properly understand the highly technical case and read through the more than 1,200 pages of transcripts. It does seem that the new judge is taking an interest in the case and has a desire to understand the technical issues present.

[ For the full rundown on the Terry Childs case, see InfoWorld's special report. ]

A few weeks ago, he ruled on a demurrer filed by the defense. This demurrer was essentially challenging the language used in the charges against Childs, specifically regarding count 2-4, which represent the three modems in Childs workspace. The defense contended that the modems constituted a normal function of Childs' job and were therefore not subject to the statutes referenced by the prosecution. Those statutes are somewhat vague but are intended to address a situation where one party surreptitiously installs a modem or other communications device on a network for the purpose of illegally accessing the network remotely. The defense contends that these charges were not applicable since the modems used by Childs were tools he required in order to do his job. The judge ruled against the demurrer. It is worthwhile to note that had the judge ruled in favor of the demurrer, the prosecution would have then had the option of correcting the language of the charges in order to comply with the ruling. As it stands, that language will not be modified.

There is a second motion, called a 995, which is currently up for the court's consideration. This is essentially a motion to dismiss all charges against Childs based on lack of reasonable evidence. If the court rules in favor of the defense on this motion, there will be no trial and Childs will be free. The current date for the hearing on this motion is April 23, but there's always the chance that it will also be postponed.

I have heard that although the prosecution has at least one CCIE assisting on the case, the defense does not (other than Childs himself). Apparently, several CCIEs have been approached to either help with the case or to be expert witnesses at the trial, none have agreed. It may be that they're concerned about Cisco's reaction to their participation. Frankly, I think that there should be a CCIE on both sides of this case. They aren't the borg, after all.

So for all those that have e-mailed me requesting updates to the case, or more information, that's all I have at the moment. There's little more to report at this time -- we'll just have to wait and see what comes next.

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