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Diebold Whistle-Blower Charged With Felony Access

CmdrTaco posted more than 8 years ago | from the see-what-you-get-for-doing-good dept.

585

Vicissidude writes "An employee of law firm Jones Day found legal memos showing that their client, Diebold Election Systems, had used uncertified voting systems in Alameda County elections beginning in 2002 - violating California election law. The whistle-blower turned over the memos to the Oakland Tribune, which published the legal memos on its website in April 2004. The company's AccuVote-TSx model was subsequently banned in May 2004. Now, the whistle-blower, Stephen Heller, has been charged in L.A. Superior Court with felony access to computer data, commercial burglary, and receiving stolen property. If convicted on all three counts, Heller could face up to three years and eight months in state prison. Blair Berk, Heller's attorney state, "Certainly, someone who saw those documents could have reasonably believed that thousands of voters were going to be potentially disenfranchised in upcoming elections." Sandi Gibbons, spokeswoman for the L.A. County district attorney's office rebuts, "He's accused of breaking the law... If we feel that the evidence shows beyond a reasonable doubt in our minds that a crime has been committed, it's our job as a criminal prosecutor to file a case.""

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585 comments

Gun-Toting Whistle-Blower Charged with Felony Acce (5, Funny)

ExE122 (954104) | more than 8 years ago | (#14808867)

And in other news, whistle-blower Charleton Heston has been charged with attempts to incite a riot as well as breaking and entering at a government food production facility. Although the production of their main product was found to use human beings as a source for protein and flavoring agents, Mr. Heston has been brought into custody.

His public outcries of "Soylent Green is people!" led to a riot that left 4 people dead and many hospitalized in various conditions.

"He did not have clearance to enter the facility. He broke the law, and that's that", said the prosecuting attorney while nibbling on a cube of Soylent Yellow.

The NRA President faces up to 5 years in prison if convicted.

Re:Gun-Toting Whistle-Blower Charged with Felony A (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14809105)

I think the explaination can be found in this court transcript:

Q: Doctor, before you performed the autopsy, did you check for a pulse?
A: No.
Q: Did you check for blood pressure?
A: No.
Q: Did you check for breathing?
A: No.
Q: So, then it is possible that the patient was alive when you began the autopsy?
A: No.
Q: How can you be so sure, Doctor?
A: Because his brain was sitting on my desk in a jar.
Q: But could the patient have still been alive nevertheless?
A: It is possible that he could have been alive and practising law somewhere.

source:
http://www.cse.ogi.edu/~diatchki/jokes/court.html [ogi.edu]

Legal Questions (2, Insightful)

XorNand (517466) | more than 8 years ago | (#14808879)

Most of what I know about the legal system I learned from watching Law & Order, so maybe a real lawyer can pipe in here: Would the whistle blower's work be protected from disclosure as attorney-client work product? But if the information he had was evidence of a continuing criminal conspiracy, wouldn't the attorney-client privledge be invalidated? BTW, the man (Stephen Heller) was not an employee (as started in the blurb), but a subcontractor. Does this change the legal questions?

One thing that I don't need a JD to see is that the prosecutors have their work cut out for them in convincing a jury that this man deserves to go to prision. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised to see a politician who's up for reelection in November introduce and grandstand over some new legistlation that would have protected this guy.

Re:Legal Questions (2)

gurutc (613652) | more than 8 years ago | (#14808934)

Would his failure to act on his knowledge of alleged lawbreaking make him an accessory?

Re:Legal Questions (2, Interesting)

l2718 (514756) | more than 8 years ago | (#14808955)

IANAL either, but it seems to me that a law criminalizing the act of an employee revealing internal company documents makes sense, especially when this involved attorneys speculating on the legality of actions of their client. I mislike calling information "property" -- for the life of me I can't understand why this guy is being charged with theft -- but the I think the principle of this suit is sound and makes for good policy.

Now, whistleblowing is good, but part of attorney-client privilege is that people should be free to ask a lawyer "I've done X -- was that a crime?" and be able to rely on the lawyer's office to keep that discussion secret. This should have been handled differently if the leaker was an employee of Diebold, rather than a subcontractor for their laywer.

Re:Legal Questions (2, Interesting)

anagama (611277) | more than 8 years ago | (#14809195)

I can't comment on CA, I work in WA, but there are some exceptions to confidentiality for WA state attorneys [wa.gov]. RPC 1.6(b)(1) allows breaking confidentiality to prevent a crime. Just to be clear, this is WA's rule and CA could be different.

As this guy wasn't an attorney, and the Rules of Prof. Conduct exist to scare attorneys into good behavior, the prosecution is likely based on some law in a "computer tresspass" vein. Whatever -- the prosecutor needs to have his head examined. What a freakin' idiot.

The interesting question here for me is what may happen to the law firm. I know in WA that I'm held responsible for breaches made by my employees. That's not a small matter when it could put a very expensive license on the line -- I'll be paying $700/month in student loans for the next 25 years for mine and my loans aren't that bad compared to others'.

Re:Legal Questions (1)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 8 years ago | (#14809281)

>I mislike calling information "property" -- for the life of me I can't understand why this guy
>is being charged with theft

So you'd have no problem with, say, the plaintiff in a lawsuit where you are the defendent, gathering information from your attorney's files?

You'd have no objection to your spouse, for example, listening to recordings of you and your attorney discussing your divorce proceedings?

There are very good reasons for communication with attorneys to be kept confidential.

Re:Legal Questions (2, Insightful)

mooingyak (720677) | more than 8 years ago | (#14808980)

The whistle-blower turned over the memos to the Oakland Tribune, which published the legal memos on its website in April 2004.

If he'd been working with police on an investigation he might be in the clear. Turning it over to a newspaper could present a problem for him though.

Re:Legal Questions (3, Interesting)

iocat (572367) | more than 8 years ago | (#14809099)

To me it's amazing the Tribune printed anything about the case, since it seems to omit any reporting on crime in Oakland... But I've voted in Alameda county since 2001, and I have no faith any of my votes have ever been counted. The incompetence of the poll workers, combined with the easily hackability / uselessness of the machines (one year I could have voted twice, in the same kiosk, with the same 'smart card') is just stunning. Not to get too local, but does anyone from SF know who makes those voting systems? As I recall, they switched from punch cards to a system where you draw a black line between two other black lines. An optical reader will reject any ballots where you vote >1 in a single race when you try to hand in the ballot. So, no "hanging chad" incidents, and a solid, unambigious, paper record of each vote.

Re:Legal Questions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14809147)

Correct, if working with the law enforcement you are protected under wistle-blower acts. NOT contacting a newspaper.

Jury Nullification (3, Insightful)

C10H14N2 (640033) | more than 8 years ago | (#14809008)

It's a Good Thing.

I'll never have to serve on a jury as I find it my civic duty to ask a question relevant to the case that forces the judge to explain that concept to those jurors who _are_ allowed to stay. The job of the jury is to ensure that _justice_ is done, not that the law is followed. If they determine that application of the law is itself unjust, they are absolutely 100% in their rights to find "not guilty," even if every single shred of evidence screams out otherwise.

Re:Jury Nullification (1)

'nother poster (700681) | more than 8 years ago | (#14809132)

Mr Nicotine,

What makes you think that a juries job is to ensure that justice is done? A juries job is to decide if a defendant is guilty of a crime. The crime is defined by a law.

Re:Jury Nullification (1)

Eccles (932) | more than 8 years ago | (#14809214)

What makes you think that a juries job is to ensure that justice is done?

Because that's why we have juries.

You personally should always behave as a moral being. If the law is immoral, you are obliged by morality not to participate in enforcing it.

You don't get to be "just following orders."

Re:Jury Nullification (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14809282)

No, the jury gets to even decide if the law is to be applied or not. It is the last of the checks and balances left to the people to keep the government in check. If they can't convict anyone of a crime, then they have no power.

Remember, when we overthrew a tyrant and started up one of the worlds first democracies, the United States had a very serious distrust of government, so we arranged things so that the people had the final say where the rubber hits the road in our legal system. You have to get 12 people to find you guilty of a crime, or you are free to go. All it takes is one person of concious on that jury to let you go free.

The Words of the Founding Fathers

Jurors should acquit, even against the judge's instruction...
if exercising their judgement with discretion and honesty
they have a clear conviction the charge of the court is wrong.
-- Alexander Hamilton, 1804

It is not only the juror's right, but his duty to find the verdict
according to his own best understanding, judgement and conscience,
though in direct opposition to the instruction of the court.
--John Adams, 1771

I consider trial by jury as the only anchor yet imagined by man
by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution.
-- Thomas Jefferson, 1789

It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made
by men of their choice, if the laws are so voluminous that they
cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood;
if they... undergo such incessant changes that no man who knows
what the law is today can guess what it will be tomorrow
-- James Madison

Re:Jury Nullification (2, Funny)

srobert (4099) | more than 8 years ago | (#14809164)

Someday we will have a law holding jurors criminally responsible for their verdicts. Sometimes their verdicts are so outrageous. We can call it the "Protect America from Treasonous Juries Act". Any Congressman who votes against this should go to prison. :-)

Re:Jury Nullification (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14809225)

Someday we will have a law holding Congressmen criminally responsible for their votes. Sometimes their legislation is so outrageous. We can call it the "Protect America from Cretinous Lawmakers Act". Any Congressman who votes against this should go to prison. :-)

Re:Legal Questions (1)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 8 years ago | (#14809059)

the prosecutors have their work cut out for them in convincing a jury that this man deserves to go to prision.

Agreed, if ever there was a case deserving of jury nullification, this is it.

Fuck the L.A. County district attorney's office (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14808898)

Try charging Diebold for fraud you dipshits

Re:Fuck the L.A. County district attorney's office (2, Insightful)

Urusai (865560) | more than 8 years ago | (#14809134)

This is the same situation with the leak about Bush's illegal wiretaps. The administration's response: "We'll launch an investigation to find out who's compromising national security by blowing the whistle on our [illegal] wiretap program." It's just shameless what the government does nowadays.

When it says... (1)

MaestroSartori (146297) | more than 8 years ago | (#14808912)

...that he "found" these memos, does it actually mean that he broke the law to gain access to them in the first place?

Re:When it says... (1)

AlterTick (665659) | more than 8 years ago | (#14809124)

When it says that he "found" these memos, does it actually mean that he broke the law to gain access to them in the first place?

No, but the way he "found" them was his employer Jones Day (a law firm representing Diebold) had him working with them. While it's a good and just thing that we now know Diebold was doing what they did, the fact that it was leaked from a contract employee for Diebold's attorney is a Very Bad Thing. The presumption of confidentiality when communicating with your attorney is pretty important. He may get lucky and not go down because of the political delicacy of the situation, but they've pretty much got him dead to rights. Really, the guy's a bit of a dumbass for not leaking it anonymously.

Re:When it says... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14809212)

Well if Diebold was lying for money, that's fraud. Seeing as they were lying for money until they got that system smacked out of California, after he leaked the memos, that was part of an on going criminal enterprise. So they don't have any confidentiality, and indeed their attorneys should be disbarred and facing prosecution.

The guy is standup for being accountable for his actions, which protect the greater good at the expense of crooks and villains. That we live in an age where a person choosing anything other than unaccountable when attempting to serve the greater good is stupid says something about all of us, and our inability and unwillingness to stand up for what's right.

Just because you agree with him (0)

stupidfoo (836212) | more than 8 years ago | (#14808921)

doesn't make his actions ok.

Re:Just because you agree with him (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14809024)

You seem to be on to something. So, in what way do you consider his actions to be not okay?

Re:Just because you agree with him (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14809237)

>So, in what way do you consider his actions to be not okay?

Attorney-client privilege is higher than anything that might be discovered by violating it.

The underlying premise in all of this, is that the elections of 2004 were stolen and the Diebold corporation was complicit in a coup d'etat.

One's view on this case depends on whether he accepts that premise.

He took this risk for something that fell short of "smoking gun evidence". He didn't expose the level of outrage that would have led to impeachment or popular rebellion. He gambled, played the game of civil disobedience, and now faces the consequences. Perhaps this means that the information on Diebold will find its way in front of a jury -- a jury in a blue state!

Re:Just because you agree with him (4, Insightful)

sammy baby (14909) | more than 8 years ago | (#14809095)

Just because you agree with him... doesn't make his actions ok.


Correct.

(Warning: IANAL)

Diebold was knowingly using uncertified software to operate their voting machines, in clear violation of both the law and their agreement with the state of California. At best, this is breach of contract: at worst, it could be considered felony vote tampering.

Jones Day, a law firm which was advising Diebold and where the whistleblower was temping, sent several memos to their client about the subject. The memos appear to show that not only was the firm aware of the illegality of Diebold's actions, but was actively providing their client advice on how to evade detection, making them party to their illegal activities.

Heller discovered the documents, which he believed provided evidence that both companies had conspired to defraud the state of California. Days after their exposure, the state decertified the Diebold machines. The lawsuit which followed cost Diebold $2.6 million to settle out of court.

This isn't about upholding the law. This is about putting the fear of god into future whistleblowers when they dare to cross paths with a powerful corporation.

And that's what makes Heller's actions okay.

Re:Just because you agree with him (2, Interesting)

rovingeyes (575063) | more than 8 years ago | (#14809112)

doesn't make his actions ok.

If it is not, then let us make it OK! In this case particularly, he should not be alone. He definitely has balls to be a whistle blower (either that or he is an idiot to get himself in trouble). Regardless, if we leave him alone and let him fight this battle alone, Americans should be ashamed of themselves. You do realize that if this doesn't make news, eventually your vote really doesn't amount to any thing when every election is managed or upstaged by Diebold. This is not about following law any more and I don't believe you should be following law when it is designed to only screw you no matter what.

Re:Just because you agree with him (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14809126)

A jury can decide that the law itself is intrinsically unfair, and choose to find someone not guilty on those grounds alone. The function of a jury is not just to judge whether someone is guilty, but to serve as a protection against unjust laws created by the government.

The idea of voting with your conscience is one of the keystones of our justice system - it's called "jury nullification".

Of course, if they actually find that a juror knows about this, they'll have them thrown off the jury, and try to declare a mistrial. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jury_nullification [wikipedia.org] for details, if you're curious.

Re:Just because you agree with him (1)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 8 years ago | (#14809285)

It might. If he reasonably felt Diebold had committed a felony or that a felony was about to take place, then he could get in just as much trouble for not reporting it.

The L.A. County prosecutor is the one who should be tossed in jail for charging someone trying to stick up for honest elections. What the hell are they thinking? Since when has undermining Democracy become part of his job description?

Otherwise anyone protesting crooked elections will be labeled mentally incompetent and sent to "re-education" camp in GITMO for daring to cross the evil lord Cheney. This is only one small step away.

Wow (4, Insightful)

Ravenscall (12240) | more than 8 years ago | (#14808925)

If this is not summarily dismissed for the crock it is, Whistleblowing in this country will officially be dead, federal protections notwithstanding.

Living here is becoming creepier and creepier, I think some of Katz's old paranoid ramblings here may not have been so paranoid.

Re:Wow (1, Insightful)

bombadillo (706765) | more than 8 years ago | (#14809050)

Welcome to Dick Chenney's New America!

Whistle blowing is still allowed if you are connected to the White house and you are outing a CIA agent for no good reason.

Also, if you have the right connections you can shoot a man from 20 feet away and wait till you sober up the next day to talk to the police and tell them he was 90ft [infowars.com] away.

Re:Wow (2, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 8 years ago | (#14809186)

As they say in the excellent movie Strange Days, "It's not whether you're paranoid [Lenny], it's whether you're paranoid enough." It's not like I'm the first person to notice that something smells rotten in the white house and point it out to people, but people who were calling me paranoid and insane just a few years ago are coming around to my way of thinking... starting in the last few years. I was a paranoid little shit as a teenager and now I'm bigger, and still paranoid.

Re:Wow (1)

puke76 (775195) | more than 8 years ago | (#14809278)

Whistleblowers are already dealt with in the UK under the "Official Secrets Act". Anything the Government wants to cover up that would be in the public's interest to know is deemed an "official secret". Examples include decision-making behind the Iraq war [bbc.co.uk], tanks at Heathrow, etc.

Is this really a crime? (5, Insightful)

Ckwop (707653) | more than 8 years ago | (#14808930)

"Certainly, someone who saw those documents could have reasonably believed that thousands of voters were going to be potentially disenfranchised in upcoming elections."

So let me get this straight. His "crime" was the fact he alert people to the fact that the local elections were flawed due to the use of uncertified equipment? Is it their argument that because of this people might have disengaged from local politics and that hurts society and thus requires punishment? That's not just absurd, it's scarey.

He's accused of breaking the law... If we feel that the evidence shows beyond a reasonable doubt in our minds that a crime has been committed, it's our job as a criminal prosecutor to file a case.

No it is not. It is your job to prosecute if the following criteria are met:

  1. There is sufficient evidence against the person in question.
  2. It is in the public interest to prosecute.

While the first criteria may well be true, the second one is not. As an aside, pne of the assignments that my brother was asked when he was studying for his law degree was to answer the following question: "Given the fact that Parliament can make any law it pleases, without being constrained by the decisions of previous Parliaments, would the courts uphold a law that sactioned the execution of every blue-eyed baby in the country."

The answer is no. Technically, the court would be obliged to rule in favour of Parliament. This is because we do not have a written constitution that safeguards our rights [1]. However, the view is that the courts would never uphold this because of it's incredible abhorence.

The point of the excercise is to demonstrate one thing to woodbie lawyers: "Just because it's the law does not make it right." Morality and law are seperate beasts. Lying to your wife is immoral but it not a crime. In this case he may have broken the law, but frankly I think that is price worth paying for the value of the information he gave us. What he did was a crime but it was not immoral and did not seek to undermine society.

Simon

[1] - This is becoming less and less true. While in terms of legal theory it is certain that Parliament is not constrained by the decisions of previous Parliaments, in practice this isn't true. There are some acts that would be pretty much impossible to repeal. The European Communities Act (ECA) is a prime example of this kind of legislation. While it's legally possible to repeal the act doing so would require leaving the European Union which will never happen.

Thanks to the ECA, we are slowly acquiring a constitution. The Human Rights Act of 1998 was derived from the European Convention on Human Rights and was the first act of Parliament to acknowledge our fundamental rights in the positive. (i.e. Paraliment stating we have these rights explictly rather than simply failing to prohibit these actions).

Re:Is this really a crime? (1)

fantom2000 (700930) | more than 8 years ago | (#14809019)

He's accused of breaking the law... If we feel that the evidence shows beyond a reasonable doubt in our minds that a crime has been committed, it's our job as a criminal prosecutor to file a case. No it is not. It is your job to prosecute if the following criteria are met:
  1. There is sufficient evidence against the person in question.
  2. It is in the public interest to prosecute.
You should e-mail them. I'm pretty sure they don't read slashdot.

Re:Is this really a crime? (1)

MikeTheYak (123496) | more than 8 years ago | (#14809055)

So let me get this straight. His "crime" was the fact he alert people to the fact that the local elections were flawed due to the use of uncertified equipment? Is it their argument that because of this people might have disengaged from local politics and that hurts society and thus requires punishment? That's not just absurd, it's scarey.

No, he's accused of illegally accessing confidential information from a computer. An analogous case might be if your neighbor suspected you of criminal activity and broke into your house to find evidence. The evidence might pan out, but that doesn't excuse the B&E.

Re:Is this really a crime? (1)

interiot (50685) | more than 8 years ago | (#14809266)

I wouldn't call running across documents in the course of one's job "breaking and entering". On the other hand, he DID disclose information that was part of attorney-client privilege, so that part is a bit iffy.

Re:Is this really a crime? (1)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 8 years ago | (#14809065)

What happened to the Magna Carta? I was taught that that was a set of principles that acts a little like a consitution. If fact, some american law is based on it, even though it's not specifically spelled out in our constitution. (Trial by jury of peers?)

why we have jury trials (2, Interesting)

nido (102070) | more than 8 years ago | (#14809136)

"jury nullification" is for when the jury thinks the person on trial is getting a raw deal. The system's been rigged so that the judge won't instruct the jury members of their right to acquit even if they think the accused technically broke the law.

Common Law only has two parts that've been discovered thus far:
  • Do all you have agreed to do (contract law)
  • Do not encroach on other people or their property (golden rule)

Civil law is when someone says "there oughta be a law". Legislators make shit up, try to pass it off as Law. Think of the damage done by drug laws. Yah, drugs are bad, but drug prohibition is worse.

No harm, no foul, no conviction.

[The American Jury Institute's] mission is to inform all Americans about their rights, powers, and responsibilities when serving as trial jurors. Jurors must know that they have the option and the responsibility to render a verdict based on their conscience and on their sense of justice as well as on the merits of the law.

What would Robocop do? (1)

WIAKywbfatw (307557) | more than 8 years ago | (#14809247)

If in doubt, ask what Robocop would do:

1: Serve the public trust.
2: Protect the innocent.
3: Uphold the law.

Public Good? (4, Insightful)

1_brown_mouse (160511) | more than 8 years ago | (#14808931)

Is this lost in the political posturing of a grandstanding procecutor?

How can one balance the voter fraud versus the revealing of "trade secrets?"

More and more it is of the People, for the rich, by the ownership class.

*mumbles about the revolution and walls*

Re: Public Good? (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 8 years ago | (#14809276)

> Is this lost in the political posturing of a grandstanding procecutor?

Grandstanding? I'd like to see a FOIA paper trail about who has been urging him to prosecute.

The rustling of paper (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14808939)

And in a off-shore bank account someplace, money changes hands.

Put this monster away!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14808943)

Only three years and eight months? That is sickening!!! He should be in prison for the rest of his life and be subjected to anal rape and be forced to give blow jobs. He is a TERRORIST!!!! Please Mr. Bush, deal with this terrorist how he should be dealt with!!! GAS HIM!!!!!

Unreasonable search and seizure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14808951)

If the government breaks into your computer without a warrant and steals information about you, it's illegal.

Why shouldn't it be illegal for some random lawyer to break into computers? The fact that he found evidence of criminal activity does not justify the means he used to get it.

What the hell was this guy thinking? (1)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 8 years ago | (#14808968)

The whistle-blower turned over the memos to the Oakland Tribune

There's something seriously fucked with our public trust in this country. Why would this guy take this stuff to the media instead of the appropriate government authorities? Shouldn't he at least have tried to go through official channels first? It's not like the 'media' option would have gone away had those attempts failed.

There are plenty of ways he could have accomplished all the same things without breaking the law.

Re:What the hell was this guy thinking? (1)

LittleGuy (267282) | more than 8 years ago | (#14809009)

There's something seriously fucked with our public trust in this country. Why would this guy take this stuff to the media instead of the appropriate government authorities? Shouldn't he at least have tried to go through official channels first? It's not like the 'media' option would have gone away had those attempts failed.

The answer to your question is emphasized (mine).

For historical reference, see The Pentagon Papers [answers.com].

I would have gone to the press too (1)

autopr0n (534291) | more than 8 years ago | (#14809021)

You never know who's on the payoff in this government thing. I wonder how he got caught.

Re:What the hell was this guy thinking? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14809046)

perhaps the parties that he would have had to take the evidence to would have been the people that wrote the aforementioned evidence

Re:What the hell was this guy thinking? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14809047)

Quite possibly he didn't trust the government authorities?

Certainly government has a vested interest in the voting mechanism, so in this case giving it to the press seems like a good way of notifying the electorate of the issues.

The government could have just kept it covered up.

Re:What the hell was this guy thinking? (2, Insightful)

shotgunefx (239460) | more than 8 years ago | (#14809070)

Not really.

If he had gone through "official" channels, he most likely wouldn't have been coerced right there into silence and most likely, nothing would have been changed on diebold's side

Re:What the hell was this guy thinking? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14809097)

It's not like the 'media' option would have gone away had those attempts failed.

Did you miss the part about how the government is now charging him with a crime? If he didn't go to the media the documents wouldn't of been available to the public.

Re:What the hell was this guy thinking? (1)

lucabrasi999 (585141) | more than 8 years ago | (#14809103)

Why would this guy take this stuff to the media instead of the appropriate government authorities? Shouldn't he at least have tried to go through official channels first? It's not like the 'media' option would have gone away had those attempts failed.

Uh, if he broke the law when he acquired the material, then taking it to the police would have probably put him in jail (or at least on trial the way he is today). By taking it to the media, he may have been hoping that the prosecutors would have been too intimiated to charge him.

That is all based on the presumption that he obtained the material in a legal manner. And, for the record, IANAL (Thank God).

Re:What the hell was this guy thinking? (1)

lucabrasi999 (585141) | more than 8 years ago | (#14809145)

Damn...two mistakes on my part

prosecutors would have been too intimiated to charge him
I actually meant too intimidated to charge him.

presumption that he obtained the material in a legal manner.
I mean to say in an ILLegal manner.


I must remember to use "preview".

Are you fucking kidding me?! (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 8 years ago | (#14809269)

It has always been the tradition in America to distrust the government, and the media has historically been the most powerful way of keeping the government in check. Going to the media is exactly what any kind of government whistle-blower should do!

Remember this: Government is EVIL (but necessary). To think otherwise is un-American.

Re:What the hell was this guy thinking? (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 8 years ago | (#14809273)

Why would this guy take this stuff to the media instead of the appropriate government authorities?

Tell the very people who would be most likely to bury it and cover it up? WTF would be the point (other than maybe earning yourself a ticket to a hidden detention center somewhere)? How far do you think the NSA whistlblower would have gotten if he went to the President and said "Mr. President, I have evidence that you're breaking the law" instead of screaming to the press?

-Eric

Justice American-style (4, Insightful)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 8 years ago | (#14808969)

The charges arise from Heller's alleged disclosure two years ago of legal papers from the Los Angeles office of international law firm Jones Day, which represented Diebold at the time. Heller was under contract as a word processor at Jones Day.

The documents included legal memos from one Jones Day attorney to another regarding allegations by activists that Diebold had used uncertified voting systems in Alameda County elections beginning in 2002.

And so, once more, the American public has been saved from a shameful case of fraud by its justice system, ensuring that decent, law-abiding citizens everywhere will fear for their lives if they point out that the Emperor has no clothes.

Was what he did wrong? By the law, yes; by morality, no. If you know something bad is happening and you're in a position to do something about it, shouldn't you? Is that what the whole Enron trial is, pointing out that the people in the know not only didn't do anything about the destruction of the company, they helped it along. When was someone at Enron going to stand up and say, "hey guys, you're doing bad things."

But that's just it. They had to pass laws to protect whistle-blowers in the first place, because once you did it, you had a bullseye painted squarely on your back. It was the only way to assure people that they could speak up about the wrongs they were seeing committed every day. And yet those protections do not go far enough as evidenced by this, where the old saw "no good deed goes unpunished" has apparently been made law of the land. All Ican say is, I hope this does not get pursued or there will be a freezinf effect that will allow big business to continue to steamroll people everywhere.

Re:Justice American-style (1)

AnonymousPrick (956548) | more than 8 years ago | (#14809234)

If you know something bad is happening and you're in a position to do something about it, shouldn't you?

I am sooo cynical, I would have to say, "No." Whistle blowers destroy any prospect of getting a job ever again, and wrongful termination lawsuits are a waste of time. The Economist did an article about this a few years ago. (I can't find it on their website.)Whistle-blowers get fucked in the end. The odds are in favor of business; not the little guy.

Anyway, the best thing to do is quit, find a new job, and if subpoenaed, then tell all - like that ex-Enron accountant - can't remember her name. Other than that, keep your mouth shut. How does it go again: never have a whistle-blower or a criminal background on your resume (CV).

Lesson Learned (3, Insightful)

LaCosaNostradamus (630659) | more than 8 years ago | (#14808982)

Well, Heller is learning the modern lesson about corporations: if you cross them, they will slap (SLAPP [nolo.com]?) you down HARD. The harder you cross them, the harder they will slap you down. In this case, crossing a highly Republican corporation in a politically-charged topic, the victim is facing THREE FELONIES.

Of course, if it were me, I'd go to prison with a big, shit-eating grin on my face. The corporations are trying to Rule the Earth, and so this is a war between normal citizens and the elite. In war, people get hurt; I accept that. Heller may be a necessary sacrifice. He can eat at my dinner table anytime, and he can always ask me for a job when he gets out of prison. I hope there are many citizens who feel the same way and will help him when he needs it.

Re:Lesson Learned (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14809116)

he can always ask me for a job when he gets out of prison

While I agree with the sentiment, anyone actually planning on hiring a felon should look at what the courts consider "negligent hiring" (not firing a current work is the related "negligent retention").

Employers have had damages assessed against them for millions of dollars in many cases.

Re:Lesson Learned (1)

Minwee (522556) | more than 8 years ago | (#14809130)

"Of course, if it were me, I'd go to prison with a big, shit-eating grin on my face. [...] Heller may be a necessary sacrifice. He can eat at my dinner table anytime, and he can always ask me for a job when he gets out of prison."

Until he gets out of prison, will you also be supporting his family? Paying the mortgage on his house? Sending his daughter to school? Or will you just be grinning about how he stuck it to the man on your behalf?

Re:Lesson Learned (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14809184)

I think Cali has a three strikes law, if he is convicted he could potentially be put away for life. he better make sure doesnt drink and drive, get into a bar fight, or anything else that may be considered a violent crime. I don't think the violent crime even needs to be a felony, he just needs three felonies and a violent crime to do life.

There must be more to this story. (1)

autopr0n (534291) | more than 8 years ago | (#14808985)

I can't imagine they* (the LA county DAs) would prosecute him just for leaking the fact that the machines were uncertified. They listed the charges, but what actions did he take to get those charges?

Is he being prosecuted for taking part in the use of illegal voting machines? Is he being prosecuted for leaking diebold source? It couldn't just be for telling people about the illegal voting machines.

Something doesn't quite add up here, maybe we shouldn't be so quick to defend him. Why does the

Maybe we should put G. Washington on trial (5, Insightful)

ip_freely_2000 (577249) | more than 8 years ago | (#14808993)


You read this and your blood runs cold. It makes you wonder what would happen to George Washington if he was attempting to break the colonies from Britain today.

Sometimes government becomes so complacent, the people accepting of crap, that both need a good house cleaning.

In any event, this country needs a reminder of what the founding fathers had in mind when they formed this country.

It's all quite sad.

Re:Maybe we should put G. Washington on trial (1)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 8 years ago | (#14809057)

You read this and your blood runs cold. It makes you wonder what would happen to George Washington if he was attempting to break the colonies from Britain today.
Well, he'd be subject to British law. So I'm guessing he'd be served with an ASBO ("Anti-Social Behaviour Order" - essentially an injunction against something considered generally anti-social by a magistrate.)

In the event he violated the ASBO, say, by taking control of Boston, his parents would be subject to a very stiff fine, and he'd be given a stern talking to.

I'm not sure what this has to do with trade secrets, but, well, that's what I think would happen anyway.

Re:Maybe we should put G. Washington on trial (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14809207)

Founding Fathers???? ..had in mind???
They wanted to stop paying taxes and keep the money for themselves -what else! ...God Bless America.
It's a good job you guys don't understand irony but we are laughing ourselves silly over here ;-)

Re:Maybe we should put G. Washington on trial (1)

Dutchmaan (442553) | more than 8 years ago | (#14809288)

In this day and age...

God Bless America! in 2006 == God Save the Queen! 1776

Re:Maybe we should put G. Washington on trial (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 8 years ago | (#14809223)

what would happen to George Washington if he was attempting to break the colonies from Britain today

Well, I imagine there would be some pissed-off interrogators down at Guantuanamo trying to get an electric current to run through wooden teeth.

-Eric

AccuVote-TSx (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14809000)

More accurate product name: AccuVote-TehSux

Die-bolder (1)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 8 years ago | (#14809001)

Man that guy was bold for trying to show that Diebold was acting fraudulently.
Send him directly to jail, that'll show him! Problem solved!

Right to Legal counsel? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14809016)

As much as I hate Diebold and like the idea of whistleblowing, I'm not sure it should be encouraged in the case of legal memos. People and companies alike should have the right to discuss legalities, even illegal or unethical situations, in privacy. If they actually violate the law, as opposed to just generally being scumbags, you can get them for that. Probably you could have the DA start an investigation without publicly leaking memos.

two words (1)

Bananatree3 (872975) | more than 8 years ago | (#14809025)

Die, Diebold!

Seriously, though, I can see where the Attorney's office would be upset about someone taking legal memos from a law office. I mean, it wasn't a Diebold memo, TFA said it was a memo between two of Diebold's lawyers, and that is the property of the law office.

On another note, it seems that with all the "errors", faulty machines and mysterious voting numbers, uncertified changes 1 week before the election, etc., I still personally go with my first statement.

As my civics teacher always said... (1)

Geoffreyerffoeg (729040) | more than 8 years ago | (#14809064)

This is the United States. Anybody can sue anyone for anything.

Whether or not you'll win (or avoid barratry charges) is a separate story.

Go ahead and prosecute him, I say. Whistleblower laws and anti-SLAPP laws should cover him. For a case as important as this, he'll definitely have the EFF and the ACLU behind him.

Re:As my civics teacher always said... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14809163)

>he'll definitely have the EFF and the ACLU behind him.

And what? They will visit him in prison, and send him postcards?
Just how effective do you imagine the ACLU to be?

Re:As my civics teacher always said... (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 8 years ago | (#14809231)

Go ahead and prosecute him, I say. Whistleblower laws and anti-SLAPP laws should cover him. For a case as important as this, he'll definitely have the EFF and the ACLU behind him.

While I hope the ACLU helps out, I sincerely hope the EFF doesn't. He needs effective, proven trial advocates who actually know how to win cases.

Re:As my civics teacher always said... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14809270)

Umm... SLAPP is for civil lawsuits. This is a CRIMINAL FELONY PROSECUTION.

Shoot the messenger ... (1)

rs232 (849320) | more than 8 years ago | (#14809125)

was .. Diebold Whistle-Blower Charged With Felony Access
'the whistle-blower, Stephen Heller, has been charged in L.A. Superior Court with felony access to computer data, commercial burglary, and receiving stolen property.'
Is anyone in Diebold [uiowa.edu] ever going to be held accountable?

Quoth Stalin: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14809157)

Death solves all problems. No man, no problem.

Applies well enough to prison sentences in today's United Soviet States, don't it? Congratulations, you've first seemingly defeated your old enemy only to replace it in the end.

Gee, what a shock... (1)

Swampfeet (758961) | more than 8 years ago | (#14809173)

L.A. County DA Steve Cooley is a Republican. The party of Diebold and ES&S, no surprise they want to punish whistleblowers.

Happens everywhere... (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 8 years ago | (#14809178)

here in mexico, a tapped phone conversation was published to a TV station. The conversation was between a governor and a man charged with pedophilia. In the conversation they agreed to punish the journalist who published facts about the pedophile. They wanted to jail her and have her raped there.

The federal government has asked for an investigation about acts of corruption and abuse of power by this governor... but also one about phone tapping :-/

What He Should Do (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14809185)

Charge the Sec of State with malfeasance (the commission (as by a public official) of a wrongful or unlawful act involving or affecting the performance of one's duties) and nonfeasance (the failure or omission to do something that should be done or esp. something that one is under a duty or obligation to do), charge Diebold with FRAUD as a disenfranched voter, and refer the lawfirm Jones Day to the ethics board in the state.......That'll Teach Em!

The Problem is with the media (3, Interesting)

stlhawkeye (868951) | more than 8 years ago | (#14809204)

The "whistleblower" status is for people who know that something dirty and wrong is going on and turn over their evidence to internal agencies of the government to deal with it. A whistleblower takes his knowledge and does not go public with it. This guy mailed this stuff to the newspapers, that's why he's in trouble. Had he contacted any one of a dozen agencies to handle the complaint, he'd be in no legal trouble. The whisteblower law would protect him. THat's why all these "leakers" are landing in hot water. WE learned from Watergate that if you go public with something incriminating, you become a hero to the media. So now people leak all kinds of shit trying to be the next "Deep Throat." Well, that's not why we have whistleblower laws. The whistleblower law is to protect a consciencious objector to an unlawful government practice. In this case, a company working on the government dole breaking the law. If the guy wanted legal protection to busing Diebold on their shitball hardware, there's a legal recourse to do so. He didn't use it. He leaked to the goddam newspaper. That's exactly the opposite of what you're supposed to do. He's geetting what he deserves. Now, if only Diebold can be held to the same standard.

Proper Channels (1)

suprcvic (684521) | more than 8 years ago | (#14809209)

Perhaps if he'd gone to the PROPER authorities instead of a newspaper, he might not be in the hot water he's in.

He didn't break in! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14809211)

the documents were stored in a filesystem with
username: user
password: password

George (1)

ff1324 (783953) | more than 8 years ago | (#14809241)

George Orwell may eventually be referred to as a prophet. Granted, 1984 is 22 years ago, but "utopia" is running a little behind.

Just remember, no go deed goes unpunished.

California Court System In Action (1)

sauge (930823) | more than 8 years ago | (#14809279)

Look, this is the California court system in action - that's all.

Everyone who has lived there knows it is fucked up. That is how some dude who rapes and cuts off the arms of a 15 year old goes free after doing some time and there are riots there every ten years or so. You are fully familiar with cases concerning OJ Simpson and Michael Jackson aren't you, dear reader?

California is simply a mess. I am so glad I moved out of there.

Watch two sides of the coin before judging (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 8 years ago | (#14809294)

Sure, it sounds horrible. Hey, that guy showed a flaw in the voting process, the fundament on which the US are (supposedly) built! He shouldn't be facing crime charges, he should be celebrated as a hero.

Ok. But he commited a crime to do just that. He "stole" the documents and gave them to someone else.

Crime justified in the name of the higher good? While I do agree in this case (even im my books, stealing from a company is peanuts compared to the fundament of democracy), think of the possible results that could come out of a verdict like this.

Would this legalize torture in the name of avoiding terrorist attacks? Hey, one terrorist getting his kneecaps clubbed in compared to thousand innocent? Higher good?

Would this legalize snooping into everyone's very private and intimate information? Some loss of privacy in change for more safety? Higher good?

I think it would justify just what is done already, but then the outcry would be silenced simply by mentioning this precendent. Any crime is justified, if done in the name of the higher goals.

Of course... one could argue now, when we're supposed to trade privacy and freedom for the "war against terror", and consider it legal, why should it be now illegal when someone is doing a far smaller crime to protect something at least as vital for the US society, the freedom and fairness of the voting process?
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