David Kernell, 22, the college student and son of a Democratic Tennessee state legislator who hacked into the e-mail account of Sarah Palin was convicted Friday on two counts. After four days of deliberations, a federal jury found Kennell guilty of obstruction of justice and unauthorized access of a computer, a misdemeanor. He faces 20 years in jail, though the sentence is likely to be much less. I will be discussing the case this morning on ABC Good Morning America.
Kernell was acquitted of the wire fraud count and the jury deadlocked on the charge of identity theft.
Some reports indicate that the prosecutors have indicated that they will re-try Kennell on the identity theft count. That would indicate an effort to create new precedent for this type of hacking. However, in my view, it would be overkill and unnecessary. Many accepted the legitimacy of prosecuting Kennell to send a message to other hackers. However, retrying this kid would be a needless waste of resources. This was a stupid act by a college kid. I would not treat it was a college prank (as he claims) but it is not exactly capital crime either. Surely, there are a few other crimes in Knoxville that need to be addressed by the prosecutors.