Federal Judge To Hold Electronic Discovery In Pay Pal Criminal Hacking Case

Posted On Wednesday, October 17, 2012

On October 11, 2012, U.S. District Court Judge Lowell Jensen of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California ordered the government to turn over to him hard-drives and other digital devices in the government’s possession related the prosecution of alleged hackers.  This case stems from a July 2011 indictment for fourteen defendants alleged to have participated in a coordinated attack on PayPal’s computer servers after PayPal severed ties with Wiki Leaks.  The defendants are charged with engaging in a conspiracy to commit intentional damage to a protected computer, aiding and abetting intentional damage to a protected computer, or both. 

Pursuant to search warrants predicated on affidavits stating that the government would retain only the files relevant to their prosecution, the government seized computer hard-drives and other digital devices containing millions of digital files.  However, the government did not retain only the relevant evidence but rather elected to retain all of the seized evidence despite two orders from a U.S. magistrate judge that extraneous material be purged. 

In response, Judge Jensen ordered that the government provide him with the hard-drives and digital devices seized by the government.  His ruling requires the government, if it needs to further examine the evidence, to petition the court and provide notice to the defense.  The court’s decision ensures that the evidence will be preserved for trial and the defense will be permitted to contest or limit the examination after the government requests access to the data.

This was reported extensively by Vanessa Blum of The Recorder at the following links: