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Verdict in Palin Hacking Trial: Guilty on 2 Counts

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By Tanya Roth, Esq. on May 03, 2010 12:45 PM

As discussed in a prior post on this blog, former Alaska governor Sarah Palin testified last week in the trial against David Kernell for hacking into her private email during the 2008 presidential campaign. Last Friday, the jury returned with their verdict. Kernell, the son of a Democratic state representative in Tennessee, was found guilty on two of the four charges against him.

According to the Associated Press, the jury deliberated for four days before reaching their verdict. They found Kernell guilty of obstruction of justice and unauthorized access to a computer, but acquitted him on the charge of wire fraud. The obstruction of justice charge carries with it a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. The charge of unauthorized access to a computer is a misdemeanor and carries a maximum sentence of one year.

Kernell was acquitted of the charge of wire fraud, however, the jury remained deadlocked on the charge of identity theft. According to the AP, Knoxville Assistant U.S. Attorney Greg Weddle, the chief prosecutor, said the prosecutors in the case have not yet decided if they will attempt to re-try Kernell on the outstanding charge.

In a statement on her website, Palin wrote she was thankful for a "just verdict," and characterized Kernell's crimes as an attempt to derail the election. Throughout the hacking trial, Kernell's defense attorneys argued the acts where not so much an attempt at a second Watergate (as Palin referenced on her website), as a silly college prank.

U.S. District Judge Thomas Phillips has not yet set a sentencing date.

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