[TUHS] Happy birthday, Morris Worm!

Noel Chiappa jnc at mercury.lcs.mit.edu
Thu Nov 2 22:10:53 AEST 2017

    > From: Doug McIlroy

    > A little known fact is that the judge leaned on the prosecutor to reduce
    > the charge to a misdemeanor and accepted the felony only when the
    > prosecuter secured specific backing from higher echelons at DOJ.

I had a tangential role in the legal aftermath, and am interested to hear

I hadn't had much to do with the actual outbreak, so I was not particularly
watching the whole saga. However, on the evening news one day, I happened to
catch video of him coming out of the court-house after his conviction: from
the look on his face (he looked like his dog had died, and then someone had
kicked him in the stomach) it was pretty clear that incareration (which is
what the sentencing guidelines called for, for that offense) was totally

So I decided to weigh in. I got advice from the Washington branch of
then-Hale&Dorr (my legal people at the time), who were well connected inside
the DoJ (they had people who'd been there, and also ex-H+D people were
serving, etc). IIRC, they agreed with me that this was over-charging, given
the specifics of the offender, etc. (I forget exactly what they told me of
what they made of the prosecutor and his actions, but it was highly not

So we organized the IESG to submit a filing in the case on the sentencing, and
got everyone to sign on; apparently in the legal system when there is an
professional organization in a field, its opinions weigh heavily, and the
IESG, representing as it did the IETF, was the closest thing to it here. I
don't know how big an effect our filing had, but the judge did depart very
considerably from the sentencing guidelines (which called, IIRC, for several
years of jail-time) and gave him probation/community-service.

Not everyone was happy about our actions (particularly some who'd had to work
on the cleanup), but I think in retrospect it was the right call - yeah, he
effed up, but several years in jail was not the right punsishment, for him,
and for this particular case (no data damaged/deleted/stolen/etc). YMMV.


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