As I was going to school yesterday morning, I noticed that there were more black cars than I'd ever seen in front of the courthouse, and a Ranger car. I decided to cut classes and see what was going on. What I saw made me sick, and just about too mad to type straight.
When I got inside, they were just starting to arraign the suspect. He's not a lot older than me (17, I found out), and he was looking like one sick puppy. (Later, I heard the Ranger say that he'd grabbed him as soon as he stepped off the plane that morning--he'd just flown in from Iceland--so maybe there was some jetlag, but he had more than jetlag to worry about.) He was charged with abetting grand theft before and after the fact, professional malpractice, and practicing software engineering without a license. He sure didn't seem old enough to have done all those things, and he pleaded Not Guilty.
The DA was handling the case himself, but there were two whole rows of out of town suits beside and and behind him. And the kid, turns out his name is David Josephssen, had the bad luck to get as his public defender the laziest attorney in the county: Al Legorry (everybody calls him DiagonAl, (pronounced die-AG-u-nal) 'cause that's the angle he sits at in the courtroom).
Well David was wide-eyed and paying real close attention, but DiagonAl was just slouching there, playing Tetris. Judge Bean had to ask him twice if there was any objection to moving directly to trial. He gave a jerk, said "Judge, no disrespect, but I was close to a personal best score there when you interrupted me. What was the question again?" He didn't object to going to trial. "I'm as ready as I'll ever be. Do you think we can finish this today?"
So the trial commenced right then and there. Turns out that David--everybody was calling him dvdjo--was accused of helping some John Doe (they never said much about him) to burglarize a virtual vault in a virtual bank in a secret virtual world called Third Life. Seemed to me that they should have had a virtual trial in their virtual world and given him a virtual sentence ("What happens in Third Life stays in Third Life"), but no, they wanted to punish him in Real Life.
There wasn't a lot of evidence. One night the virtual goodies were in the virtual vault when they closed up, and the next morning when they opened up, the goodies weren't there. But when they checked the virtual security log, the virtual tapes from the virtual security cameras, etc., they found nothing. That is, according to all the evidence, no one had been in or near the virtual vault all night. The virtual cops even virtually dusted the virtual combination lock for virtual fingerprints, but only found those of authorized employee "avatars" (I had to look this word up) of Fifth Third Life Bank (isn't that a crazy name? like they took it from phishing spam).
So they concluded that it was an inside job, and they decided it must be dvdjo, because he's the guy they'd hired to write a virtually invulnerable security system for the bank. They'd never even seen him before today and it came out that they didn't know he was only 15 when they virtually hired him to do the job. You'd think that there'd be a lot of suspects in an inside job, but somehow they decided it could only be him.
There was only one Texas witness, from the Texas Engineering Board, and all he said was that the Board had no records of any David Josephssen, either applying for or being granted a license to practice engineering on the Internet. They also asked about dvdjo, but the answer was still no.
The main witness was the bank's Chief Information Officer, John Quill Macavity. He looked a little nervous at first, until it became clear that DiagonAl wasn't going to ask any questions, wasn't even going to look up from his Tetris game and miss another chance for a high score. Then he got more confident and mean. It had to be dvdjo, he said. In the first place, dvdjo lied about being a software engineer. In the second place, none of the bank's fulltime employees would do a thing like that. (I wanted to ask how many employees they had, and whether they had checked them more carefully than they did dvdjo, but DiagonAl just kept playing Tetris.)
Macavity went on to say "We contracted with dvdjo to produce a virtually invulnerable system. The burglary proves that it wasn't. I can't be sure whether he bungled the software or whether he deliberately betrayed us, but if he'd done his job right there's no way that stuff could have been gotten out of the vault outside banking hours. I think that it was probably a setup from the beginning, and that he deliberately put a trapdoor in our software and then sold it to the highest bidder. What a despicable hacker. He doesn't deserve to be called a software engineer!"
When asked if he was sure that dvdjo was the only one who could have cleaned up the security logs, he replied "Damn straight! He was the only one who had the admin password. He's the one who printed out the logs for us to check--he could have sabotaged them right then, if he didn't do it before. And ever since we told him we knew he was involved in the theft, the little swine [David's about 6' 7", but he was probably thinking about the dvdjo avatar] has stopped resetting passwords for us when we forget them. Now about half the staff and 80% of our customers can't log in any more! [David looked up and actually smiled at this. It was the only time I saw him smile all day. DiagonAl didn't notice.] When I get my hands on the rat, I'm going to hold his feet to the fire until he coughs it all up..." At this point Judge Bean interrupted and asked him to answer just the questions.
Macavity looked so fat and smug and mean, I'd pick him out as the most likely criminal in the room, but I don't think he's smart enough to have done this job.
Then the DA wrapped up, and the Judge asked DiagonAl if he wanted to call any defense witnesses. "Hell, no, Judge. I'm getting paid by the case." I think that surprised even Judge Bean, because he said "The record will show that the defense declined to call any witnesses."
So the judge charged the jury and sent them out to deliberate. It only took them about 15 minutes. "We find the defendent guilty on all charges, including the aggravated felony of practicing software engineering without a license in furtherance of a crime."
At that point, both the DA and DiagonAl wanted to go directly to the sentencing hearing, but Judge Bean wasn't having any of it. "I note that the time is 4:05. It is a standing policy of this court that employees shall be free to leave at 4:30 on Fridays. [This isn't true, but it's a trick he likes to pull on out of town lawyers.] This court is adjourned until 9:00 on Monday morning. [Bang!] I'm sure all you fancy out of town lawyers will manage to bill your clients for the whole weekend, whether you do any work or not. [Bang!]
By that time the Ranger and the Sheriff were hustling David out of the courtroom to the county jail, and making sure that no one got a chance to talk to him, and everyone else was scattering.
I feel so helpless. SOMEBODY ought to be able to do something to help that poor kid, but I don't know how. If any lawyer or capable grown-up reads this, please get in touch with me, firstname.lastname@example.org, as soon as you can.