February 28, 2006
California Suit Pits Law Firm Confidentiality Against Whistle-blower Protections
One ugly case is brewing in Southern California. The Los Angeles Times is reporting about the case of Stephen Heller. He worked as a word processor for Jones Day who represented Diebold Systems. Heller copied internal documents from one attorney to another that discussed the use of uncertified voting systems in California, specifically noting that this violated election law and opened the company to lawsuits by Alameda County for breach of contract.
Diebold had been fighting lawsuits over the use of voting machines that had a turbulent history of failure. At one point, one model was banned by the California Secretary of State, although it was recertified for use in elections this year. There was also a civil suit which was settled over misrepresentations in the process of getting the vote machine contract with Alameda County.
The documents eventually wound up published on the web site of the Oakland Tribune. Hence the charges of felony access to computer data, commercial burglary, and receiving stolen property. Heller's attorney calls him a whistle-blower, but the Los Angeles District Attorney doesn't see it that way. Lots of ethical issues are going to be aired out in this one.
The L.A. Times Story is here. (free, subscription required.) While we're on the subject, check out this story in Wired News about how Diebold optical system voting equipment (and maybe those from other manufacturers) could be susceptible to a hack. That story is out of Florida.
February 28, 2006 | Permalink
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