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Sunday, July 14, 2024 | Back issues
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Conviction Stands Against Palin Hacker

(CN) - A man convicted of hacking Sarah Palin's email account during the 2008 presidential election cannot overturn the charge that he obstructed justice by trying to cover his tracks, the 6th Circuit ruled.

David Kernell already put in the time for the crimes of which he was convicted, but he appealed the obstruction of justice conviction shortly after his November release from a halfway house.

In 2010, a jury found him guilty of obtaining information from a protected computer and of trying to hide the evidence.

When Palin was campaigning with Republican presidential nominee John McCain in 2008, Kernell reset the password for the then-governor of Alaska's Yahoo email account and bragged about his feat on an online message board.

Anticipating an FBI investigation, the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, student tried to wipe away the online paper trail.

Though Kernell cleared his web browser's cache and defragmented his computer's hard drive, the FBI still recovered evidence connecting him to Palin's email account, including a draft of a letter he posted to the 4chan message board that described his hack in detail.

On appeal, Kernell claimed that it is unconstitutional to convict someone for obstruction of justice before an actual investigation has already been launched.

The Cincinnati-based federal appeals court ruled Monday, however, that his online acknowledgment of the looming investigation supports the conviction.

"Kernell expressly states that he deleted the information on his computer out of a fear that the FBI would find it, plainly showing that he took his actions with the intent to hinder an investigation," Judge William Cole wrote for a three-judge panel. "Even with proper skepticism directed toward claims made on the Internet, a self-incriminating statement such as Kernell's provides sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to conclude that he acted with obstructive intent."

Kernell, represented by Wade Davies of Ritchie, Dillard, Davies & Johnson, reportedly plans to take his appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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