Palin Email Hacker Says Emails Were Public Record… So No Crime?
from the legal-twists-and-turns dept
Last year, we noted two separate problems with trying to prosecute the guy accused of figuring out Sarah Palin’s Yahoo email account password and posting it to the internet. First, the Justice Department has stood behind a position that opened emails are not private, based on a very literal reading of the law (you can check the link to understand the reasoning). Second, the law used to charge the guy specifically said that it was only a felony if it was used to further a criminal activity. That is, the hacking, by itself, wouldn’t be seen as a crime unless it was a part of a larger criminal activity — which it wasn’t. Prosecutors changed the charges earlier this year to address that — claiming that the criminal activity was a violation of Palin’s privacy.
The accused guy, David Kernell, and his lawyers are trying a variety of different defenses (not surprisingly, of course), including claiming that Palin’s privacy was not violated, because Palin’s emails were a public record because (due to a separate lawsuit) a court had ruled that Palin was required to preserve her Yahoo account email. Because of this, the argument goes, the emails are part of the public record (which, given the first DOJ definition above, could fit under the DOJ’s interpretation of the law). It’s difficult to see this line of reasoning succeeding directly, as it seems to defy common sense, so it would be surprising if a judge bought into it.