Flash Boy’s Conviction Thrown Out—Again

In a stunning victory for the former Goldman Sachs programmer, New York State Justice Daniel Conviser threw out Sergey Aleynikov’s jury conviction on state law charges that he stole intellectual property from Goldman. Trade Secrets Watch has extensively covered this story, most recently reporting the start of Aleynikov’s new trial, but missing out on a (later-dismissed) juror’s tale of an errant avocado.

In May, the apparently confused jury convicted Aleynikov of one count of unlawful use of secret scientific material—while deadlocking on a second count of the same crime—and acquitted him of one count of unlawful duplication of computer-related material. The jury’s seeming befuddlement was evidenced not only by the mixed verdict, but by the flood of questions they directed to the court about the New York law forbidding unlawful use of “secret scientific material.” (What does that even mean? We don’t know either, and reading New York Penal Law § 165.07, a 1967-vintage law, wasn’t much help.)

In a 72-page opinion, Justice Conviser found that while Aleynikov “doubtless acted wrongly” by copying code, the prosecution failed to prove that he committed this “obscure” crime. In effect, the conduct that the prosecution proved simply did not fit the elements of the charging statute it chose.

Aleynikov’s happy dance no doubt continues at this hour. His lawsuits against Goldman (to recover attorneys’ fees) and two FBI agents (for wrongful investigation) continue, and Trade Secrets Watch will continue to update you on this seemingly endless saga. To learn more in the meantime, you can peruse the state court docket, at People v. Aleynikov, New York State Supreme Court, New York County, No. 04447/2012.