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Hacked Off: Palin Testifies in Email Hacking Trial

By Tanya Roth, Esq. on April 26, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin took the stand on April 23 to testify in the trial of 22 year-old David Kernell, accused of hacking into her email account during the 2008 presidential campaign. Palin testified the former college student's alleged email hacking caused a huge disruption in the campaign and caused her difficulties in communicating with staff and family.

According to a report by ABC, Kernell, son of a Tennessee Democratic state representative from Memphis, is facing charges of identity theft, wire fraud, computer fraud and obstruction of justice. If convicted, he faces up to 50 years in prison for causing Palin's friends and family to change their email accounts after the intrusion was discovered. Bristol Palin also testified she received some harassing emails and texts after her email and phone numbers were made public by the hacker. 

Kernell's defense counsel painted the email hacking incident as a "silly prank."  In court, his attorneys argued Kernell had no criminal intent, and merely guessed his way into the account. According to Top Tech News, that was not too hard to do. Kernell was allegedly able to jump such security firewalls as entering the Wasilla zip code, the former governor's birth date, and the security question of where Ms. Palin met her husband (Wasilla). "It took less time than the prosecution's opening statement," defense attorney Wade Davies said.

Kernell's roommate at the University of Tennessee at the time of the incident testified against him. According to ABC he told the court, "He (Kernell) definitely talked about how he didn't believe in what she wanted to do," said David Omiecinski, although he added that Kernell said nothing about hurting Palin.

The defense is facing an uphill battle in a trial in the heart of "Palin Country." According to ABC, Knoxville News Sentinel writer Jamie Satterfield said, "The defense is in a position where I don't think they can beat up on her too much. People are crazy about her here."

In her memoir, "Going Rogue," Palin described the 22 year-old as a creep who was bent on ruining her campaign.

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