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Judge Won't Lower $5M Bail For Jailed SF IT Admin

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the wait-for-asperger's-defense dept.

The Courts 429

snydeq writes "San Francisco County Judge Charles Haines has denied Terry Childs' motion to reduce his $5 million bail, alluding to 'public security concerns,' according to Richard Shikman, who is representing Childs in court. The ruling comes in the wake of a recent decision to drop three of the four changes that have been levied against Childs, who has spent the past 14 months in jail. The fourth charge — that Childs violated a California statute regarding illegal denial of service for the San Francisco FiberWAN — has been called into question by those closely monitoring the case. As a point of comparison, the San Francisco Felony Bail Schedule lists a $1 million bail for the most serious crimes, such as sexual assault of a child, aggravated arson, or kidnapping for ransom. Prosecutors have argued that the bail is appropriate because, if released, Childs could cause damage to San Francisco's network."

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429 comments

too easy (4, Funny)

drDugan (219551) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279071)

Childs could cause damage to San Francisco's network.

But, but... think of the children

Re:too easy (4, Insightful)

Shikaku (1129753) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279259)

Prosecutors have argued that the bail is appropriate because, if released, Childs could cause damage to San Francisco's network.

Yeah, so can anyone who's competent with networking.

Just admit that he was presumed guilty before a trial you incompetent fools. You all are making yourselves look more and more like idiots, and the Childs is laughing his ass off in jail.

Oops shouldn't have said that out loud, I might be labeled a terrorist.

Re:too easy (4, Funny)

compro01 (777531) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279287)

Yeah, so can anyone who's competent with networking.

Or incompetent.

Re:too easy (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29279305)

I'm pretty sure he isn't laughing his ass off while sitting in jail after 14 months. Although there's a good chance he will be once this is done, and he's won his lawsuit against the city and gotten the DA disbarred.

Re:too easy (5, Insightful)

joaommp (685612) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279519)

this is preposterous. basically they're condemning him for being arrogant while competent. he always stated that he was only refusing to hand out the passwords because he didn't trust the competence of the people that were still working there.

what harm could he now do to the city network? he was fired, the password has already been disclosed to the mayor about a year ago... or have they forgotten to change the passwords?

and if he did have backdoors, it's already time they had them fixed. if he uses them, then, yeah, he's provoking the wrath of law, but... 5 million?

each year he spends on the jail probably means about 10 years he looses from his lifespan from physical and emotional distress. fsck the fscking judges and DAs.

Robin Williams said it right:

"You know, I heard scientists are now using lawyers instead of mice for experiments, for two reasons: one, scientists grow less attached to lawyers and two, there are somethings that even mice won't do."

add "judges" to that, will you?

Re:too easy (1)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279749)

this is preposterous. basically they're condemning him for being arrogant while competent. he always stated that he was only refusing to hand out the passwords because he didn't trust the competence of the people that were still working there.

Which is, and SHOULD BE, illegal. Wasn't his network.

Re:too easy (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279649)

Their claim he could damage the network are absurd. They would be negligent if they couldn't get a handle on their network and secure all its management points within 14 months.

It's small comfort, but on the bright side; if one of their new admins breaks things, they can't pin the blame for their incompetence on him; e.g. "The network broke... that's odd... he must've sabotaged it while awaiting trial!".

Since he's in jail, other maybe less-qualified admins that follow him, will have noone to blame but themselves for any outage that occurs to the SF network as a result of their action or inaction, as they've had plenty of time to fix anything that's broken now.

If the charges against him ever finally get dismissed, and he gets released as a result (without further obligation to appear in court): frankly, I think he ought to consider fleeing the jurisdiction for fear of unjust reprisal.

Pursuing action against the DA and such is good and all, but trying legal action against politically powerful people who think they've got noone to answer to can also be dangerous, and they've already demonstrated ability to inflict physical harm -- by jailing him.

Re:too easy (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29279373)

Nahh, it's grandstanding or penis waving. Nothing more.
The judge is biased, the prosecutors are trying to show the world that they really dont have 1" long penises and cat get it up in bed.

Nothing more is happening than that. Too bad the USA legal system is horribly corrupt to allow such abuses go without having recourse. The procecuters shoul be disbarred and forced to never work in law again if found to be abusing the system. The judge should be simply shot for being stupid and a danger to freedom and the american way.

Re:too easy (4, Insightful)

catmistake (814204) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279469)

Punishment prior to conviction has become all too common, it's only one tactic in an unscroupulous prosecutor's bag of tricks. They try to make you look guilty by keeping you in jail before trail. They will duplicitously paint you as a flight risk even if you've never been beyond 20 miles from the courthouse. The judge will almost always do as the prosecutor recommends. It's said a sitting federal judge with full contempt powers is the most powerful position in government. But I think a local municiple prosecutor is pretty damn powerful too, considering his sway over local judges before a jury returns a verdict.

Re:too easy (4, Funny)

bdenton42 (1313735) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279567)

Just admit that he was presumed guilty before a trial you incompetent fools. You all are making yourselves look more and more like idiots, and the Childs is laughing his ass off in jail.

They may just be keeping him in long enough for all of his certs to expire.

Re:too easy (4, Insightful)

noc007 (633443) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279661)

Prosecutors have argued that the bail is appropriate because, if released, Childs could cause damage to San Francisco's network.

This oddly sounds like crap that brought up in Kevin Mitnick's trial.

My guess is the DA knows he's fscked and is grasping at straws. I wouldn't be surprised once the last charge is dropped, Childs counter sues for being charged, arrested, and in jail.

Only if... (5, Insightful)

evil_aar0n (1001515) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279083)

He's a danger to their network only if no one has yet changed the passwords on the routers and other equipment.

Re:Only if... (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279249)

He's a danger to their network only if no one has yet changed the passwords on the routers and other equipment.

What makes you think the network is secure enough that unchanged passwords are the only vulnerabilities?

Re:Only if... (5, Insightful)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279679)

What makes you think that he'd do that if let loose? If it did get screwed up, I'd think he'd be the first to receive blame at this point. Unless one has a very, very good escape plan that is sure-fire and won't fail, I would think that unless they're completely nuts, a person in Childs' position is not going to go at them for "revenge".

They're more in danger from other threats than this man at this point. To put it more succinctly: The risk is imaginary; the DA's whipping up fantasies that're just plausible enough that the Judge is willing to sign off on them. He didn't do a denial of service. He didn't intend to do so, as best as can be determined. He followed their internal security policies per passwords, even.

Re:Only if... (4, Insightful)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279691)

What makes you think the network is secure enough that unchanged passwords are the only vulnerabilities?

Since one can never prove that a network is secure, what are they going to do: lock him up forever?

Yes. (0, Troll)

Estanislao Martnez (203477) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279297)

He's a danger to their network only if no one has yet changed the passwords on the routers and other equipment.

Which requires them to know what all of the equipment is, and potentially all of the software installed in all of it. Information for which Childs was supposed to be the source.

I'm not saying that the $5 million bail is right, but it's not at all inconceivable that Childs could cause damage to that network if he chose to do so.

Re:Yes. (4, Insightful)

tftp (111690) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279493)

it's not at all inconceivable that Childs could cause damage to that network if he chose to do so.

You are correct, of course. Childs should be immediately lobotomized, or if the procedure appears to be unreliable then he should be just killed. He knows too much and can never be released. His possible future crime must be prevented at any cost. Same applies to all future sysadmins of SF - once they learn the network (a few weeks on the job, perhaps) they will have to be destroyed.

Re:Yes. (1)

joaommp (685612) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279565)

and why would he? that would just make his life worse. from what I read, it appears that he was responsible for the networking running as smooth as it was. If I'm not mistaken, he's the one that planned the network and set it up right. And one of the first things that came to light when this bubble bursted, was that despite the missing passwords, the network was running pretty well.

Re:Yes. (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279751)

If they can't inventory and find all the equipment in their facilities, that's not Child's problem, they've had 2 years to do all the legwork, bookkeeping and maintenance they need, there are no valid excuses for management to not have a handle on things after such a long period of time.

Hardly anyone is good enough to remember lists of equipment in their head, especially not after two years.

They don't necessarily have to know what all the equipment is, also: they just need to restrict access.

For example: there's no reason people on the internet should be allowed to telnet to routers.

Beyond that, they just need to identify all other ingres points to their network: every network connection they're paying for, every phone line/modem attached to core gear for OOB management, and make sure suitable access restrictions are in place at various control points.

Security is not hard. And it's absolutely essential in an important network, even with no "Childs".

Re:Only if... (1)

Simulant (528590) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279317)

In which case, whom ever is in charge now deserves to be fired.

Re:Only if... (1)

ArbitraryDescriptor (1257752) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279319)

He's a danger to their network only if no one has yet changed the passwords on the routers and other equipment.

I know they changed all the "dangerous" VPN passwords they accused him of hoarding. Of course, after entering them into the public record [infoworld.com] ; they kind of had to. It took them two days to react; and subsequently caused the only network outage related to this incident; but they got changed.

Re:Only if... (1)

netruner (588721) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279333)

He's a danger to their network only if no one has yet changed the passwords on the routers and other equipment.

Or if he had previously planted a trojan he could remotely trigger.....

Don't get me wrong, I think this whole thing is out of control - I just think that the argument presented doesn't prove what it was intended to prove.

Re:Only if... (4, Insightful)

evil_aar0n (1001515) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279511)

You would think, by now, that someone would have come in and cleaned up the network and battened the hatches. After all the publicity this has gotten, if there's _still_ a hole for Child's to access, then they deserve whatever skull-fucking he can give them.

I know these are government employees, but, as I said, with the publicity surrounding this one, they might have justified breaking the piggy bank to pay for a real network guru to give it a once-over, at least.

Re:Only if... (1)

turbidostato (878842) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279601)

"Or if he had previously planted a trojan he could remotely trigger..."

Well, or he installed a dead-man trigger and it is him retained in prision the thing that will shoot armaggedon.

Re:Only if... (5, Insightful)

Zen Hash (1619759) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279447)

"The defendant's withholding the passwords caused DTIS to be denied administrative access to the FiberWAN, which constituted a denial of computer services," Judge McCarthy wrote.

The defending not giving up the administrative passwords for his former employer's network didn't cause anyone to be denied administrative access. Their own incompetence and lack of planning were responsible for that.

This whole thing is ridiculous, yet it's still not over... The people who need to be held accountable are the managers responsible for allowing such a major fuck-up to occur with something as critical as they claim.

Re:Only if... (4, Insightful)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279453)

He's a danger to their network only if no one has yet changed the passwords...

No kidding. Are those routers and servers just running on on the same settings they were set on 14 months ago? No one has run updates? Changed any settings? Heck, in a lot of places half that equipment would have been replaced in a year. Any reasonably competent admins could have secured that network before now. Most routers have a way of resetting the root password, even if that means taking them off-line a few at a time and reprogramming them.

This is insane. 14 months in jail. Come on San Francisco, time to extract your head out of your boyfriend's ass.

Hopefully his lawyers can appeal to a judge with clue before this stupidity goes any further.

Re:Only if... (2, Funny)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279549)

Are you serious? He's been in prison for over a year. Surely by now he's learned about all kinds of backdoors!

Re:Only if... (1)

mrsquid0 (1335303) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279597)

Unfortunately, there is a real chance that some of those passwords have not been changed.

Re:Only if... (3, Insightful)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279665)

He doesn't deserve to sit in jail until someone gets around to changing the passwords.

Re:Only if... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29279803)

He's a danger to their network only if no one has yet changed the passwords on the routers and other equipment.

On a network that large, I'd expect that they'd be using TACACS or RADIUS, verified against an LDAP-based directory service. Disable the user object, force everyone else with router/network infrastructure privileges to change their passwords, no more threat.

I simply don't understand why he was permitted to be the only person with admin access. If he didn't trust the competence of others, then all he needed to do was backup the configurations on a regular basis. Hell, schedule it, and do it twice a day, every day, to a TFTP server on the internal network that you control, keep a year's worth of configs for each device, compressed.

It sounds to me as though just about everyone involved is an asshole.

Witchcraft (4, Insightful)

pem (1013437) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279085)

Anybody who knows about computers has to be kept away from them, else they might cast spells on the rest of us.

Re:Witchcraft (1)

moon3 (1530265) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279173)

^^ (raised eyebrows) Are similar rulings a norm in the US ?

Re:Witchcraft (1)

eyepeepackets (33477) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279371)

Yup. Texas especially so.

Re:Witchcraft (4, Insightful)

theCoder (23772) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279787)

While it's lots of fun to make fun of right wing crazies, it should be noted that this case is taking place in San Francisco, California, one of the most liberal places in the country. Just further proof that stupidity knows no political or ideological boundaries.

Re:Witchcraft (1)

Oswald (235719) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279403)

I don't know about their being a norm, but they're certainly not unheard of. Per Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] , Kevin Mitnick was treated in a similar fashion before his trial.

Re:Witchcraft (5, Informative)

whatajoke (1625715) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279413)

Most judges in USA are elected.

Re:Witchcraft (4, Insightful)

smartr (1035324) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279179)

Why pay attention to the 6th and 8th amendments of the Constitution when there are witches? No one is safe from their power!!!

take that SF (5, Funny)

cwmendel (612358) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279093)

maybe he should get his money's worth and go sexually assault five children then...

Re:take that SF (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29279163)

HAHAHAHAHAHAH!

Dude, you owe me a new keyboard. Mod parent up!

Re:take that SF (0, Offtopic)

Trikki Nikki! (1516301) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279291)

It feels really wrong to laugh at this, but I'm not sure I can help it. Yes I know, I'm going to hell... but at least two other assholes are coming with me :)

Re:take that SF (4, Interesting)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279273)

I can kind of understand why they would set the bail so high if they don't want him out of prison during the trial, because he probably has more money than the average murderer or rapist, and could actually afford a $1 million bail. On the other hand, I don't understand why they don't want him out of prison during the trial. Especially since the article mentions he's already served more time than his eventual sentence will be, even if he's found guilty.

If I were Mr Childs, at this point my thoughts would be less on vandalizing the network and more on vandalizing the nose of the prosecuting attorney who convinced the judge that there was some sort of danger to the network if I was released.

Re:take that SF (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Cowpat (788193) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279459)

or, more importantly, since the prosecution doesn't want him out of jail during the trial, and the judge clearly subscribes to that view, why doesn't he just drop the whole charade of offering him bail that he'll never be able to meet?

No confidence (5, Insightful)

AlHunt (982887) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279097)

> Prosecutors have argued that the bail is appropriate because, if released, Childs could cause damage to San Francisco's network.

It sounds like they have zero confidence in whoever is now in charge of securing their network.

Re:No confidence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29279109)

Yup, I'd hate to be that new hire!

Re:No confidence (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29279111)

Childs did not trust them either.

Re:No confidence (2, Interesting)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279131)

It sounds to me more like they're afraid he's left one or more back doors into the system.

Re:No confidence (1)

Jarjarthejedi (996957) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279281)

Which requires low confidence in your current security professional.

Re:No confidence (1)

digitalunity (19107) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279321)

There are a variety of techniques to hide backdoors even from the majority other security experts, such as portknocking.

You can have all the redundancy and safety protocols you want, but at some level, it comes down to a decision of trust.

Re:No confidence (1)

AlHunt (982887) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279553)

> You can have all the redundancy and safety protocols you want, but at some level, it comes down to a decision of trust.

Even that doesn't justify the uber-excessive bail in this case. If he's found not guilty are they going to keep him in jail, "just in case"?

Re:No confidence (4, Insightful)

digitalunity (19107) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279621)

No, my point was kind of that there is an implicit trust between all employees and their IT personnel. The IT people have all the keys to all the doors, they can know anything about your company, even that which should be restricted to the highest personnel. Refusal to divulge root passwords to those who shouldn't have them isn't a very good reason to throw someone in jail, even if it IS a city government network.

Instead of holding this man, they should congratulate him for bringing to light the colossal insufficiency of their manpower in this department and the total negligent lack of redundancy in key positions. The fact that they got into this position at all, with only a single person having the root passwords for key infrastructure is a sign of the departments lack of intelligible oversight.

Re:No confidence (1)

tsm_sf (545316) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279657)

Following this to its logical conclusion, if Childs is a threat now he will always be a threat. Either we kill him, imprison him for life (with no contact with the outside world), or completely replace ALL the SF hardware.

Obviously none of these choices will happen. Therefore at some point the legal system will have to trust that Childs won't uber-hack the city, which renders the 5mil bail pointless.

((as an aside, this is setting a horrible precedent. Any admin that walks away from a poorly documented system could face indefinite jail time.))

Re:No confidence (1)

turbidostato (878842) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279659)

"There are a variety of techniques to hide backdoors even from the majority other security experts, such as portknocking."

And surely those trojans would sustain reimagin the devices with clean vendor media and then upload new clean configurations, wouldn't they? It has been 14 months, for godsshake!

Re:No confidence (5, Funny)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279387)

It's in safe hands. The city hired The Geek Squad.

Re:No confidence (2)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279735)

It sounds like they have zero confidence in whoever is now in charge of securing their network.

Well, the prosecutors work for the City and County of San Francisco, too; certainly, its not that uncommon for people on the business side of an operation to have low confidence in their own IT staff.

Sick of this (4, Insightful)

nickdwaters (1452675) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279119)

The incompetence of the legal system has no lower bound.

Re:Sick of this (3, Insightful)

e9th (652576) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279283)

I'd be happier if it had an upper bound.

Re:Sick of this (1)

mrsquid0 (1335303) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279609)

That is good. Negative incompetence would be a big improvement.

Admin can do much more harm! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29279121)

A network admin can harm a large number of people with a single set of operations compared to a rapist or a murderer. With n/w access Childs could potentially destroy evidence as well as harm the SF city's official network - and make the city operations crawl! He screwed up when he held the city hostage with the administrative passwords!!

Unfortunately there is no easy way to keep someone away from resources such as computers. He would have to be under house arrest with posted sentries in an apartment which has been searched so that there are no computers or devices which can access the n/w. Additionally, we would have to pay for his house arrest......

So .. guess him being inside is better than him being outside... I dont want an admin with administrative access to my city's operations messing around.

Man, I shouldn't have blown my mod points. (3, Insightful)

argent (18001) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279167)

Since I can't mod you down, I'll just note that they've now had over a year to change the passwords and otherwise secure the allegedly compromised LAN.

Re:Admin can do much more harm! (3, Insightful)

Chyeld (713439) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279207)

You are right, any nutso can get a sniper rifle, case full of ammo, and take out half a campus from the church tower. It's the really dangerous folk, like the ones who haven't had access to your network in the past year (which you somehow haven't secured on your own because you are too fucking stupid) that are the real danger to society at large.

Here's a tip for the Judge, if there is still something out there on SF's network that Childs actually could manipulate with greater access or affect than a normal citizen, then the folk who should be in jail are the ones who cleaned up the mess.

Re:Admin can do much more harm! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29279307)

You are right, any nutso can get a sniper rifle. . .

True, it takes a special kind of nutso to blackmail the mayor of a major city into meeting personally with you.

Judge doesn't quite understand (4, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279185)

I don't think the judge understands the nature of network security, which is understandable since he isn't an IT guy......but no doubt the prosecuting attorney was pushing to distort the issue to make him look as dangerous as possible. What if he is not guilty, are they still going to keep him in jail because he might be dangerous? Furthermore, if he DOES damage the network, can't they just charge him for that crime at that time? It's not like he can cause irreparable damage, as murdering someone might.

One thing I don't understand is why this guy doesn't exercise his right to a speedy trial. He's already been punished enough considering all the evidence I've seen suggests he is innocent. Maybe he is getting some kind of zen experience living in jail and he actually likes it or something. From what I've heard from some sysadmins, living in jail can't be much worse than that job.

Re:Judge doesn't quite understand (2, Funny)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279223)

In jail, they schedule time for you to SLEEP.

Re:Judge doesn't quite understand (1)

Vancorps (746090) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279455)

Sweet man, cause my current work schedule often leaves that step out. Thank god its only for the next four months!

Re:Judge doesn't quite understand (5, Insightful)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279257)

You're right, and you're wrong.

The Judge doesn't understand, he is not paid to understand.

What the Judge does understand is that letting this guy out of jail on BOND is dangerous to SF political types running the city. This is far more dangerous, in their mind, than a child rapist, mass murderer or other heinous criminal, hence the steep bail.

And the city wonders why nobody wants to visit there any more.

Re:Judge doesn't quite understand (2, Insightful)

Gordo_1 (256312) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279389)

Um, I'd be surprised if most people visiting SF had heard of this case. There are plenty of other reasons why nobody wants to visit SF anymore, and most derive from the rampant homelessness problems, crumbling infrastructure and systematic discrimination against people with cars.

Re:Judge doesn't quite understand (2, Insightful)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279543)

What you call systematic discrimination against people with cars could also be labeled 'controlling the rate at which the populous consumes driving resources.' To YOU its the city vs you. To the city, its a much larger scale issue. It stands to reason that since we dont control our population growth and every American believes they just have to own a car, you are going to get squeezed when you choose to drive in very dense areas.

Re:Judge doesn't quite understand (2, Interesting)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279767)

except it's a self correcting issue. Don't build more roads, but keep the current in repair.
People will get sick of the traffic and find other was to get into the city.

Re:Judge doesn't quite understand (1)

tftp (111690) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279593)

I'm living 50 miles away from SF, and I was in the city (driving through) only about twice in last ten years (it's less convenient, though possible, to get to North Bay through other routes like 580.) Tourism-wise, I have no desire whatsoever to visit San Francisco; there are plenty of other places to see in California and elsewhere. For statistics, I did hear about the case, but it is only one of many effects of city policies. Other problems that you mention also flow from the same cause - from city fathers that are just as competent as the folks in Sacramento.

Re:Judge doesn't quite understand (1)

hannson (1369413) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279717)

and most derive from the rampant homelessness problems

Someone should start distributing fliers for that Californojnoj's supercool to the homeless. That should take care of it!

But seriously, I don't get what this case is about. Is he considered to be the cyberterrorist version of Dr. Evil? So what he changed all the passwords before he left the sysadmin position, but the new one has access to the equipment and we all know that physical access == not that secure in most cases. So the new admin fixes the things he's supposed to but the old one's made as an example? I really don't get it, what could this guy possibly be a danger to out on the streets besides being legally an asshole?

On a side note, has he told the new admin the passwords yet? I really, really don't get it if he hasn't.

Re:Judge doesn't quite understand (2, Insightful)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279711)

What the Judge does understand is that letting this guy out of jail on BOND is dangerous to SF political types running the city. This is far more dangerous, in their mind, than a child rapist, mass murderer or other heinous criminal, hence the steep bail.

And the city wonders why nobody wants to visit there any more.

Amazing, isn't it? But it's the way a stereotypical politician typically thinks- when they do manage to think. I certainly wouldn't want to work for them after this whole debacle- the stuff that's coming to light through all of this does not reflect well on the DA's office or the city itself right at this time.

Re:Judge doesn't quite understand (5, Informative)

grahamsaa (1287732) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279263)

The right to a speedy trial is a pipe dream in most states in the US. If a defendant files any motions whatsoever, all time spent up to and during the argument of those motions is not counted against the prosecution. If the prosecution asks to reschedule a hearing they are often given the benefit of the doubt, sometimes 2, 3, even 4 times. Cases that are won on speedy trial grounds, particularly cases involving felonies, are incredibly rare in the US. Speedy trial is technically a constitutional right, but in practice, it's next to worthless to a defendant.

There's also a constitutional right protecting us from excessive bail, but it doesn't look like the judge cares about that either, and even if bail was appealed, it would be held up on appeal.

Re:Judge doesn't quite understand (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29279327)

Given that he has been in jail for 14 months, he has likely already waived his right to a speedy trial. If you waive your right to a speedy trial, it can take just about as long as the prosecution wants (and you cannot rescind your waiver).

Re:Judge doesn't quite understand (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29279769)

Given that he has been in jail for 14 months, he has likely already waived his right to a speedy trial

14 months is nothing. The Supreme Court set the bar at somewhere above two years for Jose Padilla, and that's the precedent that currently stands.

Re:Judge doesn't quite understand (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279341)

From what I've heard from some sysadmins, living in jail can't be much worse than that job.

In jail, nobody expects you to help them with stupid problems (e.g., people complaining that their number pad doesn't work because Num Lock isn't on.) on computers you're not responsible for, or running an OS that's not included in your job description. For some sysadmins, this would be enough to make jail bearable.

Re:Judge doesn't quite understand (1)

netruner (588721) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279473)

What about his right to reasonable bail? I know it's commonplace to outright deny someone their 8th amendment rights, but I think we've slid down the slippery slope on that one quite a ways. My understanding of the case law that allows someone to be held without bail was for violent offenders that will continue until they are physically stopped. Anymore, it seems, any crime that makes it into the news has either no bail or a bail equal to 10x or more of the defendant's net worth.

This is why you don't wait until an offense becomes egregious before you speak up.

Re:Judge doesn't quite understand (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279795)

don't think the judge understands the nature of network security, which is understandable since he isn't an IT guy......but no doubt the prosecuting attorney was pushing to distort the issue to make him look as dangerous as possible. What if he is not guilty, are they still going to keep him in jail because he might be dangerous?

The question is irrelevant. Danger to the community is expressly a consideration in bail decisions.

It's not like he can cause irreparable damage, as murdering someone might.

Why do you state that? Are you assuming the network isn't used for any critical operations where disruption might have irreversible consequence?

One thing I don't understand is why this guy doesn't exercise his right to a speedy trial.

Speed in a trial often favors the prosecution, since the prosecution gathers inculpatory evidence before it even files charges, while the defense rarely prepares before that point.

Why no "speedy" trial? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29279205)

(IANAL) I find it curious that he and his lawyers haven't pushed for a speedy trial. Legally you can insist that the trial go forward in a timely manner, though in cases where both sides want time to collect additional information the defendant won't do so. So what is Childs and his lawyer waiting for? Are they waiting for the prosecution to completely fk up and prove themselves wrong? Are they collecting their own information?

The more I read about this the more it sounds like once the case against Childs is over his counter suit against the city (and possibly against his individual bosses, the police officers involved, etc) is gonna be a complete raping.

Re:Why no "speedy" trial? (1)

Anonymous Cowpat (788193) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279515)

maybe Childs just needs free accomodation for a while.
y'know, make your pile, put it in a high-interest bank account, then live on the state's dime for a few years.

What happens if he beats the rap? (5, Insightful)

jayme0227 (1558821) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279217)

Prosecutors have argued that the bail is appropriate because, if released, Childs could cause damage to San Francisco's network.

So if the 4th charge is dropped and he is freed, can they keep him jailed? He could, at that point, still cause the same damage that he can now.

Seems excessive (5, Insightful)

tsotha (720379) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279239)

I think the problem is they know he's not going to be convicted of anything in the end. So the judge is trying to send a message to people who might be inclined to do the same thing.

"We can get you. We don't need to actually convict you, either. We can get you anyway."

14 Months? (5, Informative)

lax-goalie (730970) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279285)

Doesn't this guy have a sixth amendment right to a speedy trial?

Besides (and Google may have led me the wrong CA statute) but it look like the penalty for the remaining charge could be as little as a $5,000 fine. It also seems to have an out:

"Subdivision (c) does not apply to punish any acts which are committed by a person within the scope of his or her lawful employment. For purposes of this section, a person acts within the scope of his or her employment when he or she performs acts which are reasonably necessary to the performance of his or her work assignment."

Re:14 Months? (5, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279423)

You actually think that laws to protect you from the government actually apply to you?

Wow, Let me guess, you also think we run by a Innocent until proven guilty system as well.

If you enter the legal system you are FUCKED. They play by their rules and will PUNISH YOU for trying to exercize any of your rights. you are a piece of shit and everyone in the system knows you are guilty.

Honestly, you have a better chance at running and hiding out than getting justice through the legal system. It really is that fucked up.

Re:14 Months? (4, Insightful)

gknoy (899301) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279651)

I believe that this is less about malicious intent of those participating in the system (poilice, lawyers, judges, lawmakers), and more about Perceived Effectiveness. It's not that they don't want justice, but they need measurable numbers. They need to show that they're Being Effective at deterring crimes, stopping pedophiles, stopping hackers, winning the war on drugs, etc.

Police are there to make arrests and get the DA a case good enough to go to trial. It's not about "justice", or even your guilt: If something you say can be interpreted as implication, you're dealing with a DA.

DA's care about looking good to constituents (and/bosses). They can't NOT prosecute cases that the police give them. (Perhaps they CAN, but it looks bad, so I doubt it happens unless they feel they can't win it ... and even then they'll try to plea bargain you out.)

Judges care about ... who knows what. :) They don't like to have things overturned, as that makes them look bad, but at the same time they tend to be very keen on interpreting the letter of the law. It's generally the higher appeals courts that seem to care about the "spirit" of the law, and even then the letter's pretty strong.

Disagreement (4, Insightful)

robpoe (578975) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279309)

Terry Childs played the "battle of wills" game and lost. He's not the innocent child that some are alluding to - he did willfully not give the passwords out.

When I was a corporate IT guy (about 3 years in the middle of about 16 years as a consultant), I took responsibility over a large part of the network in a multi facility health care business. This wasn't life or death stuff, but network outages did cause problems with appointments and general "face" of the corporation. When I came on board, the network was down a lot. No change control, no "chief" in charge of the network, and about 9 people mucking with stuff constantly.

I put my job on the line, in exchange for FULL control of that system (It was a 85 server Netware + Groupwise environment). The first thing I did was take *everyone's* admin away, removed "admin" from supervisory rights to the tree. I then doled out the appropriate levels of access to the security team (read new users, password resetters), put in a hidden OU with a tree supervisor in it and then wrote the "master" admin/login information down. Lightly, in pencil. Folded it up, put it in an envelope with a tamper seal, that went into another tamper evident envelope and that went into the safe. Every month or two I changed the password and replaced the envelope.

That was in case I died, they could easily get in. That is what Terry should have done. Then it wouldn't have come to this - he might have gotten sacked, and/or lost control over what he considered to be his "creation" -- but he wouldn't be rotting in jail....

Re:Disagreement (5, Insightful)

Pitr (33016) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279779)

Your reasoning is very short sighted. Yes the "in case of bus" envelope is important, but if you've ever actually been a sysadmin, you know you're the blame guy. There are always idiots up the corporate chain that will blame you for anything technical even if the problem stems directly from them not following your instructions, or otherwise doing something stupid.

That aside, this isn't about you. I know it's hard to imagine, but try to bear with me. It goes like this:

Maybe he's a dick, but that doesn't matter. What matters is that WHAT HE DID WAS CORRECT! You do NOT give the "bus envelope", password or whatever, to some guy, the janitor, the mail boy or whoever, you give it to one of a small number of people only. It may be handled by a secretary or other assistant, but opening said envelope would be grounds for immediate dismissal, as would revealing that same password info to any of the afore mentioned individuals without appropriate "clearance" or what have you.

So here's the situation, your boss, who may or may not have the right to know the password, with some people in the room who DEFINITELY aren't on the access list demands the password.

Situation #1:
You refuse to divulge sensitive info in front of inappropriate individuals because 1) it's actually your job, and 2) if you do so, you can be held liable for any damage done as a result. You are arrested immediately. Happy fun.

Situation #2:
You give up the password immediately, someone brings the system to a crashing halt by incompetence, and you are arrested immediately because it's obviously something you did. Happy fun.

Sure, an envelope is a good idea, but there wasn't one, and that's not his fault, that's a management oversight. Even if this guy's difficult, or abrasive or whatever, he didn't break anything, and was willing to go forward with relinquishing the password, just on very specific terms. If that's a reason to spend over a year in jail, then we better start handing out life sentences for J walking, because unlike not giving up a password, J walking could actually harm someone.

sooooo..... (0, Redundant)

DragonTHC (208439) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279337)

The prosecutors in the case are arguing that the city's computer systems are more valuable than human life?

If that's the case, then yes, certainly the bail is appropriate.

If not, then the bail is entirely inappropriate.

Was it worth it? (1)

pudding7 (584715) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279339)

I hope it was all worth it for him. Sounds like there's not much of a case against him, but I have a hard time feeling any sympathy for him.

Re:Was it worth it? (1)

pudding7 (584715) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279369)

I like pronouns. Him, him, him.

No hit-by-bus protection (3, Interesting)

incense (63332) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279401)

While it seems the prosecutors in this case are overreacting (why's this even a criminal case?), what I find curious is that there was no scheme to retrieve the passwords if Childs were to pass away accidentally (no HBB protection). Passwords written on paper in a safe, safety deposit box or similar, or the passphrase to Password Safe written down somewhere secure.

It's pretty stupid to have to physically access all the routers to reset passwords in the event that the network admin dies or quits in fury. Just write the procedure into the admin's job description.

Maybe I don't remember Civic's very well.... (4, Interesting)

rahvin112 (446269) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279427)

Maybe I don't remember HS Civic's very well but I thought the point of bail was ONLY to prevent flight, not that it had been redefined to be large as a result of danger the innocent (until proved otherwise) person poses. He's being jailed not because he's a flight risk but because of political posturing by the DA, that is a serious miscarriage of justice. I don't have a lot of sympathy for the guy but bail is clearly being misused here.

Re:Maybe I don't remember Civic's very well.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29279647)

Do you mean "Civics" without the apostrophe, or are you somehow referring to something belonging to a Honda Civic, much like how you'd say "John's pet turtle"?

Not what bail is for! (1)

Pitr (33016) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279539)

Bail exists to a) manage flight risk and b) prevent repeat occurrences of the same crime. So unless he decides to not tell the city the password again(which they now know), it's not even possible to repeat the "crime".

So to put it in perspective, bail is set at $5 Mill because he would only tell the password to the Mayor, which is apparently a crime 5x more severe than killing someone, even though it can't exactly be repeated.

"He might do damage in some other way which has nothing to do with what we're charging him for.", is NOT a reason to set bail ludicrously high. Maybe the guy's a dick, maybe he even did some stuff wrong, but he's definitely having his rights stepped on now.

IANAL, etc. etc.

No Sympathy for Childs... (0, Flamebait)

Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279541)

I don 't know the man, but he appears to have behaved like a raging asshole since the start of this. Whatever his skill or lack thereof as a network administrator, he has totally failed as a member of the team running the City's network. For all of you bewailing the fact that this all seems to be politics, I can only say, "Duh!" Everyplace you work has politics. Childs seems to have decided that his way of winning at office politics is to commit public, career seppuku on top of a hill no one cares about. He has demonstrated for all to see that he lacks judgment and a sense of proportion. Good luck with your career in fast food retailing, dude.

Something is Rotten in the State of SF (2, Informative)

KwKSilver (857599) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279619)

This whole thing has seemed overblown from the get go to me. I thought it had been cleared up a while back ..obviously not. My guess is that he stepped on some politician's/power broker's toes somehow, and "they" are punishing him this way; it's a classic corrupt government gambit. Vindictive state and local politicos have a lot of ways to screw people who lack friends in high places. Wonder what the poor bastard did, refuse to help some honcho spy on or frame someone?.

Whatever happened to the constitution? (5, Insightful)

Marful (861873) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279681)

8th Amendment of the Bill of Rights

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Judge needs to be removed and disbarred.

Bail (1)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279695)

The entire concept of 'bail' is ridiculous. Money paid should not have any effect on whether a person is in or out of jail.

he better sue as 14 months in jail looks bad resum (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 4 years ago | (#29279703)

He better sue the city big time as 14 months in jail looks bad resume and some places he will not get pass HR with that. Other jobs as well will question the big job gap maybe not the IT guy but likely the PHB will.

honor case (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29279733)

unfortunately, this case has been made into an "honor" case.

They've been helding that poor guy for 14 months already.

Lowering bail would be like admitting that the facts hold against him are not that bad.

And admitting that facts aren't that bad, would mean that he would get a lower sentence.

But he has already been in jail for 14 months, so not framing this guy would be utter failure and loss of face for prosecution and the city/state/watever. "hey guess what, we've been holding you for 14 months and you're getting a 5,000$ fine. Excuse us for turning the complaint from a 'termination of contract gone bad' to a terrorrism claim"

a bit of context on the 5m bail (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29279799)

The pervert/sickos they just caught in SF had their bail set at $500,000 each
for imprisoning and raping kids for 20 years

10% of what this admins bail is set at
good to see the USA court has its priorities set
raping kids is only 10% of the risk to society than this guy?

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