Friend of the Court brief leads to sentencing of convicted computer crime defendant

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A matter has been developing lately and I learned of its conclusion yesterday, and am very pleased about the results.

In July 2006, the FBI arrested Christopher Maxwell on charges he willingly attacked computer networks in hospitals, school districts, and the U.S. military, resulting in direct monetary damages exceeding $300,000, and also putting lives at risk through severe disruption of at least one hospital’s computer network including ICU monitoring, patient records, and physical protection.

FBI / Dept of JusticeMr. Maxwell pleaded guilty, and his sentencing hearing was scheduled for August 26. I was on my honeymoon in Curaçao, or I would have attended in person. The lead prosecuting attorney, Kathryn Warma, was concerned that the perpetrator would receive a light sentence, perhaps only parole, and appealed to several individuals in the Seattle area for help. Ms. Warma needed the judge in the case to have a keen understanding of the catastrophic economic effects of attacks such as those perpetrated by Mr. Maxwell. The judge, who has no background in computer or network technology, needed to understand the bigger picture here. Because Mr. Maxwell plead guilty, there was no trial, no witnesses, no testimony, and no evidence. The judge needed information, and she needed it fast.

I responded by writing a 12-page Friend of the Court brief that explained these attacks, and their economic and human effects, in easily-understood terms, so that the judge could render an appropriate sentence.

InfraGardPartly as a result of the brief that I wrote, Mr. Maxwell was sentenced to 37 months in federal prison for his crimes. I met with and discussed the matter with prosecutor Warma, who noted that my brief was highly valued and helped bring about the desired result. She told me yesterday that my brief was used in the sentencing hearing and that my name has been written into the court record as a result.

Years ago I recognized my gift of explaining complex topics in easily-understood terms. This has led to the publication of my books and columns in trade magazines. I fully believe in and participate in community projects such as this, and am grateful that I have helped to influence and bring about desired outcomes in the federal judicial system.

With a little effort you can make a meaningful difference.


DOJ Press release:

Sound clips – lead prosecuting attorney Kathryn Warma:

Seattle Times article (may require free registration):

Defendent’s indictment:

Information Security Magazine article:,293813,sid42_gci1191313,00.html

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