SJG v. USSS

Steve Jackson Games v. Secret Service Case Archive

On March 1 1990, the offices of Steve Jackson Games, in Austin, Texas, were raided by the U.S. Secret Service as part of a nationwide investigation of data piracy. The initial news stories simply reported that the Secret Service had raided a suspected ring of hackers. Gradually, the true story emerged.

More than three years later, a federal court awarded damages and attorneys' fees to the game company, ruling that the raid had been careless, illegal, and completely unjustified. Electronic civil-liberties advocates hailed the case as a landmark. It was the first step toward establishing that online speech IS speech, and entitled to Constitutional protection... and, specifically, that law-enforcement agents can't seize and hold a BBS with impunity.

On the morning of March 1, without warning, a force of armed Secret Service agents - accompanied by Austin police and at least one civilian "expert" from the phone company - occupied the offices of Steve Jackson Games and began to search for computer equipment. The home of Loyd Blankenship, the writer of GURPS Cyberpunk, was also raided. A large amount of equipment was seized, including four computers, two laser printers, some loose hard disks and a great deal of assorted hardware. One of the computers was the one running the Illuminati BBS.

The only computers taken were those with GURPS Cyberpunk files; other systems were left in place. In their diligent search for evidence, the agents also cut off locks, forced open footlockers, tore up dozens of boxes in the warehouse, and bent two of the office letter openers attempting to pick the lock on a file cabinet...

[Overview lifted from and continued on Steve Jackson Games' website.]

» This case resulted in the creation of the EFF.

Case Files

background.sjg
Shari Steele's background article on the original SJG case.
crime_and_puzzlement.1
John Perry Barlow, "Crime and Puzzlement". A brilliant and witty booklet detailing the background of the SJG raid, the Phrack raid, and the larger "Operation Sundevil" they were a part of, as well as the formation of the Electronic Frontier Foundation in response to the gross civil rights abuses in these cases. See also Barlow's Decrypting the Puzzle Palace.
crime_and_puzzlement.2
John Perry Barlow's update and commentary for "Crime and Puzzlement".
gurps_labor_lost.article
Bruce Sterling's account of the US Secret Service raid on Steve Jackson Games, and its aftermath.
media_errors.sjg
The top ten media errors about the Steve Jackson Games Raid (updated 2-12-92): As this story has developed, occasional errors creep into news stories. There are a lot of those floating around . . . but here are the Top Ten.
ripco_case_closed.article
"Operation Sundevil" is finally over for Dr. Ripco by Bruce Esquibel
sjg_neidorf_eff.summary
Legal summary of Steve Jackson Games case and United States v. Craig Neidorf.
ss_pays_sjg.announce
SECRET SERVICE PAYS DAMAGES TO STEVE JACKSON GAMES by Steve jackson
trial_report.sjg
Day-by-day detailed report of the SJG v. SS trial, by Joe Abernathy of the _Houston_Cronicle_.
victory.sjg
announcement of the success of the plaintiffs in the original SJG v. SS trial, and a short summary of the judge's decision.

Steve Jackson Games v. Secret Service - 1994 Appeal

appeal.announce
announcement of SJG, et al. appealing the original decision in SJG v. USSS, over the issue of whether physically seizing yet-to-be-received email legally qualifies as "interception" of communications.
appeal.decision
full text of the court's decision on the appeal.
eff_appeal.brief
full text of amicus curiae brief filed by EFF, SEA and others in the SJG v. USSS appeal.
sjg_appeal.brief
text of the plaintiffs' court brief for SJG appeal.
sjg_reply.brief
text of SJG reply brief in response to govt. denial that reading and deleting a BBS's users' email before it has been received constitutes an "interception" under ECPA. 04/25/94
sup_post-arg_sjg.brief
Plaintiff's supplemental post-argument letter brief; Serves as a good summary of the heart of the issue.
usss_appeal.brief
response of the Secret Service (defendants) to the SJG appeal brief.

SJG v. DoJ - Case Docket A

complaint.attachments
The application and affidavit for the search warrant for Steve Jackson Games (Case #A-90-54m), dated February 28, 1990, and signed by U.S. Magistrate Stephen H. Capelle in Austin Texas and Special Agent Timothy M. Foley of the U.S. Secret Service. The application alleges violations of Title 18 USC Sections 2314 and 1030 and was issued in the U.S. District Court (Western District of Texas).
complaint.sjg
Official complaint and demand for jury trial in the Steve Jackson games case.
individuals.mtd
Defendants William J. Cook, Timothy Foley, Barbara Golden and Henry M. Kluepfel, pursuant to Rule 12(b)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, hereby move to dismiss plaintiffs' claims against them for lack of personal jurisdiction.
individuals_mtd_exhibit.a
declaration of Timothy Foley in regards to the dismisal of plaintiffs' claims against him for lack of personal jurisdiction.
individuals_mtd_exhibit.b
declaration of William Cook in regards to the dismisal of plaintiffs' claims against him for lack of personal jurisdiction.
individuals_mtd_exhibit.c
declaration of Henry Kluepfel in regards to the dismisal of plaintiffs' claims against him for lack of personal jurisdiction.
individuals_mtd_exhibit.d
declaration of Barbara Golden in regards to the dismisal of plaintiffs' claims against her for lack of personal jurisdiction.
mtd_exhibit.a
declaration of William Cook
mtd_exhibit.b
declaration of Timothy Foley
mtd_exhibit.c
Text of letter from K. Megahee to Bill Cook Jan 1990.
mtd_exhibit.d
declaration of Barbara Golden
mtd_exhibit.e
declaration of Laurence Boothby
mtd_exhibit.f
notice that Exhibit F contains a list of items seized from Steve Jackson Games by the United States Secret Service and proof that they were returned.
us.mtd
THE UNITED STATES MOTION TO DISMISS OR IN THE ALTERNATIVE FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT. (They didn't get it.)

Legion of Doom/Jolnet Case - Docket B

decision.sjg
the decision in the Steve Jackson Games Case
don_arburn.affidavit
Affidavit of don Arburn
elizabeth_mccoy.declaration
declaration of Elizabeth McCoy
exhibit.1
The declaration of Tim Foley can be found in the file called "Complaint.Attachments" in CaseDocketA.
exhibit.2
Neidorf Transcripts
exhibit.3
Information on Phrack V.2 Issue 24
exhibit.5
Craig Neidorf's motion for expungement and sealing of his indictment is granted . . .
exhibit.6
Technical Reference regarding BellSouth E911 Service Interfaces to Customer Premises Equipment at a Public Safety Answering Point.
exhibit.7
Technical Reference related to E911 Public Safety Answering Point:Interface Between a 1/1AESS Swtich and Customer Premises Equipment
further_response_to_individuals.mtd
plaintiffs' further response and memorandum in opposition to individual defendant's motion to dismiss.
gia_barresi.declaration
declaration of Gia Barresi
opposition_support.memo
revised memorandum of law in support of plaintiffs' opposition to the US motion to dismiss or in alternative for summary judgement.
opposition_to_us.mtd
plaintiffs' opposition to the US motion to dismiss or in alternative for summary judgement.
reply_to.response
reply to opposition_support.memo
response_to_individuals.mtd
rule_56f.statement
plaintiffs' rule 56(f) statement and objection to allowance of US' motion for summary judgement without discovery.
walter_milliken.declaration
declaration of Walter Milliken
wayne_bell.declaration
declaration of Wayne Bell

Operation Sundevil: Phrack, Neidorf, Riggs

neidorf_riggs.indictment
text of the federal indictments of the Chicago Jolnet members. Secret Service jurisdiction to investigation these alleged computer-related offenses comes from 18 USC 1030, the general computer-fraud statute -- it's provided in section (d) under this statute. March 1990 mike Godwin
phrack_riggs_neidorf_godwin.article
"When Copying Isn't Theft: How the Government Stumbled in a 'Hacker' Case" by Mike Godwin; _Internet_World_, Feb. 1994. Article detailing the lesser-known side stories of the Operation Sundevil fiasco - the raid on Phrack magazine, and the trials of Robert Riggs and Craig "Knight Lighning" Neidorf. More importantly, disucusses the implications and problems these cases brought up, and highlights the limitations of intellectual property law.
riggs_amicus_brief.eff
EFF Amicus Brief in U.S. v. Riggs challenging computer-use prohibition in "hacker" defendant's sentencing Archived/Published to the Net: May 23, 1991
sjg_neidorf_eff.summary
Legal summary of Steve Jackson Games case and United States v. Craig Neidorf.

Links to Related Off-Site Resources

Steve Jackson Games