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October 27, 2010

"Sarah Palin E-Mail Hacker Seeks Probation, Feds Want 18 Months"

The title of this post is the headline of this Wired story about my favorite high-profile (and low-importance?) sentencing story. Here are excerpts:

David Kernell, the Tennessee student convicted of hacking into Sarah Palin’s personal e-mail account, has asked the court to forgo a prison sentence and give him probation for his crimes.

Kernell, 22, was convicted earlier this year of misdemeanor computer intrusion and a felony count of obstruction of justice. The jury found him not guilty of a wire-fraud charge and hung on a fourth charge for identity theft, after four days of deliberating.

The convictions carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a possible fine of up to $250,000. Federal sentencing guidelines recommend a sentence of between 15 and 21 months in prison. The government is seeking 18 months. Kernell, scheduled to be sentenced in Tennessee on Nov. 12, was found to have deleted evidence from his hard drive to thwart investigators, in the most serious charge.

In a motion filed with the court (.pdf) on Wednesday, his attorney asserted that although his client might have deleted evidence, this should be balanced against the fact that he didn’t destroy the computer entirely or get rid of it.

“The proof showed that Mr. Kernell very quickly took actions that resulted in the evidence being preserved,” defense attorney Wade Davies wrote.  He also said that his client’s behavior was an “aberration” from his normal conduct and that the “public humiliation, trial and felony conviction” his client had endured were enough to deter him from future crimes.  “General deterrence has been achieved in this case by educating the public that accessing another’s e-mail account is conduct that violates federal law,” Davies wrote.

In prior posts, I have suggested that some kind of creative shaming sanction or community service might be especially appropriate in this case --- e.g., it would seem be fitting for the defendant here to be ordered to create a YouTube video explaining the harms of hacking and perhaps a "beware of hacker" pop-up on David Kernell's social media pages. 

Especially if tonight's great World Series Game 1 match-up does not live up to the hype, perhaps readers can suggest some other creative and tech-savvy sentencing possibilities for this case in the comments.

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October 27, 2010 at 08:03 PM | Permalink

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The said post is really an informative one. This is such an information feeder. So let us read this line again. And make some comprehension.

Kernell, 22, was convicted earlier this year of misdemeanor computer intrusion and a felony count of obstruction of justice. The jury found him not guilty of a wire-fraud charge and hung on a fourth charge for identity theft, after four days of deliberating.

Posted by: exercise bike stand | Oct 28, 2010 12:01:05 AM

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