Why legal prosecution of computer crimes require superior computer forensics

It’s really unfortunate when you read stories like this. Julie Amero, a substitute teacher in the Connecticut area, has been battling the state on a porn pop-up case that landed her four felony pornography convictions in early 2007.
A team of pro-bono computer forensic experts examined a ghost image of the hard drive and found numerous errors in the prosecution’s case which lead to overturning of the trial and it went to a new trial last June. Amero plead guilty to a misdemeanor of disorderly conduct, paid a fine and is moving on with her life.
Unfortunately for this particular situation, I think that Threat Level reported on the spot. The prosecution’s technical expertise was flawed in many cases and the testimonial didn’t jive with the evidence given by what the forensic evidence provided by the hard drive. Even giving up her state teaching credentials is asking too much of someone that didn’t actually click the pop-up links from malware judging by the analysis report of the ghost image given by the defense’s technical experts.
I assume that the prosecution wouldn’t let the charges drop even due to this overwhelming evidence due to the fact that four years down the line, they had already committed to many resources that it a dropped case would have looked bad. While I’m no legal expert, I believe that the misdemeanor was a justification of internal politics that happens in all stages of corporate and government alike.
A copy of the report by the forensics team can be found here.

  • Sue

    I read about this when it first happened and was astounded that the teacher gave up her teaching license. This is an example of poor IT policies, allowing pop-ups, using what I guess was MSIE, and for goodness sake, it’s really shooting a housefly with a howitzer. Did EFF take her case? Did anyone who could show that the prosecutors were idiots and the case was garbage?

  • Sue

    I read about this when it first happened and was astounded that the teacher gave up her teaching license. This is an example of poor IT policies, allowing pop-ups, using what I guess was MSIE, and for goodness sake, it’s really shooting a housefly with a howitzer. Did EFF take her case? Did anyone who could show that the prosecutors were idiots and the case was garbage?

  • Her case was taken on pro-bono by an attorney that used to be a prosecutor. Unfortunately, apparently the prosecution was unwilling to drop the charges and it took some more pro-bono forensics to call for another trial. The forensics team wasn’t provided with everything they needed, just a ghost image of the drive itself so there were a couple holes that they couldn’t fill (apparently they wanted the firewall logs too that couldn’t be provided).

  • Her case was taken on pro-bono by an attorney that used to be a prosecutor. Unfortunately, apparently the prosecution was unwilling to drop the charges and it took some more pro-bono forensics to call for another trial. The forensics team wasn’t provided with everything they needed, just a ghost image of the drive itself so there were a couple holes that they couldn’t fill (apparently they wanted the firewall logs too that couldn’t be provided).

  • mfarney

    No one can be sure what actually happened behind a computer. No one except the team of forensics. No one is who they say they are online. We can never trust what we're told or take advice “ad literam”, especially when it comes to medical advice.
    _____________
    Mathew Farney – Web Hosting

  • mfarney

    No one can be sure what actually happened behind a computer. No one except the team of forensics. No one is who they say they are online. We can never trust what we're told or take advice “ad literam”, especially when it comes to medical advice.
    _____________
    Mathew Farney – Web Hosting