back to article Palin email hacker asks judge for leniency

The man convicted of breaching then vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin's Yahoo Mail account has asked a federal judge to spare him a prison sentence and instead put him on probation. David C. Kernell's request for a downward departure comes six months after a federal jury found him guilty of felony obstruction of justice …


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  1. Herby Silver badge



    We need to set an example!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Setting an example

      Shouldn't the punishment relate to the crime not some putative future crime?

  2. Eric Crowley
    Thumb Down

    Federal obstruction of justice?

    So it's pretty sad that the only felony is for getting rid of something after the 'crime' (I would call it a security issue on Palin, not a crime). Does this get thrown at anyone who discards a weapon, or washes their hands or clothes after committing a crime, thereby making an investigator's job *harder* and apparently obstructing justice?

    For shame American Justice, for shame.

  3. Winkypop Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    As much as..

    ..I think Palin is a Grade-A Twit, this guys did something silly and should take the consequences.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    I fear he is in the wrong country....

    the old 'my poor abused childhood made me do it' routine only works here in the UK. In the US they usually recognise it for the bull plop that it really is. A Pity he isn't Lindsey Lohan or Paris Hilton cos they don't lock up slebs.

    Saw a prisioner in the US on TV recently he got 400 years. With probation and good behavior he could be out in only 300 and still be a relatively shrivelled up dusty old mummy.

  5. DI_Wyman


    ....but the lipstick totting pit bull was Yahoo Mail. She should have been using Google mail, far more secure.


  6. Chris Hatfield

    Give this "hacker" an award, NOW!

    The scatter-brain Sarah Palin illegally used Yahoo! Mail for Govt work. She was incredibly stupid to leaver her account so vulnerable. She metaphorically placed a spare key under the doormat, so anyone could get in, with minimal effort.

    Sarah Palin ought to be SEVERELY punished for this. David Kernell should be given an award for what he's done. He simply did it for the lulz, imagine if some nefarious person had done if for financial gain.

    1. Diane Miller

      @Chris Hatfield

      Umm... no, she didn't. She emailed pictures and so on to some friends who happened to work for the Alaska state government. Even Rubico admitted there was nothing in the email account that he could use against her.

      I take it you've never used a webmail account to contact co-workers outside of the work environment?

  7. Graham Bartlett

    "Allowed much of it to be preserved"?!

    Erm, not really. He deleted the files, and ran a disk defrag. The fact that some of the files were still readable because he didn't use an overwriting utility simply means that he's not as good with computers as he'd like to think. He's a script kiddie, in other words. And then there's the malice element.

    If someone hates me enough that they break into my house and steal stuff, just bcos they hate me, I don't really care if the cops find some of what they stole bcos they'd not yet got round to fencing it. And a judge in that case isn't going to be very impressed with "well you got some of your stuff back, so can I have a lower sentence?" If he didn't want to do the time...

  8. mark phoenix

    The proposed sentence is completely inappropriate

    Jail time should only be for criminals. This was not in my opinion a criminal act but a civil one. There was no financial gain. The only damage was to a reputation. An appropriate sentence would be a very public apology and some form of probation.

  9. teebie

    Hang on...

    "...steps Kernell took following the hack to cover his tracks. They included the deleting of images and emails he downloaded from Palin's account, the removal of temporary internet files, and running a disk defragmenter."

    Aren't these exactly the sorts of things that people do all the time anyway (delete junk and clean up)? Why are they being treated as criminal?

    1. A handle is required
      Thumb Down


      Some people might also claim that they reformatted their hard drive "because their computer was running really slow", as opposed to hiding evidence. Nice try

  10. Tom 13

    Re: Mr. Kernell's behavior was an aberration from his normal course of conduct

    I find that highly doubtful. He is a politician's son, and using his mum as character witness does not sway me.

    They should stick with the guidelines.

  11. IR


    What would the sentence be if he'd managed to remove all evidence from the computer, making it appear as if the computer hadn't even been used for the crime (that he wasn't convicted of anyway)

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    You Sir, are found guilty of running CrapCleaner!

    As an American, I am ashamed that our "justice" system and this guy's lawyer are so obviously technically deficient. Perhaps more embarassing is the fact that the police and courts are allowed to interpret the law in any way that is favorable to the desired result.

    Any sly porn browsing 15 year old would know that everything that comprised the so called "obstruction of justice" in this case, could be the result of standard windoze computer maintenance and there is nothing that could be proved otherwise.

    "I dunno yer honor, I just click the "clean" button every day cuz my bro said it makes my 'puter run faster.

    Now if he had only clicked the check box for "Wipe free space" he would not have had left anything for the police to find.

    New definition of obstruction of justice: cleaning out cruft left behind by windoze, compounded by making the police have to work too hard.

    In my mind, opening a commonly used cleanup program and clicking the "clean" button doesn't prove "intent" to conceal or alter "documents". In fact, there are no documents!

    The following may be of interest:

    To be convicted of obstruction of justice for concealment or alteration of subpoenaed documents, a defendant must: (i) know of the pending grand jury investigation; (ii) know that particular documents are covered by a subpoena; and (iii) willfully conceal or endeavor to conceal them from a grand jury, or willfully alter or endeavor to alter the documents before presentation to the grand jury.63 The statute applies to both current and outdated documents.64 The destruction of documents in anticipation of a subpoena can constitute obstruction of justice.65 The government need not prove that the destroyed documents are material.66 Courts have found that in general a passive failure to produce documents does not constitute "corruptly" obstructing justice without proof of some affirmative conduct on the part of the defendant to actually do something with or to the documents.

    For more info on the definition of obstruction see:

    The IT question of the year: Does cleaning out your temp files constitute obstruction of justice?

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