ElcomSoft, Sklyarov court hearings delayed until Nov. 26
Legal teams expanded; John W. Keker to represent Sklyarov

26 September 2001

The already once-delayed court hearing to set a trial date and schedule for Russian software programmer Dmitry Sklyarov and ElcomSoft Co. Ltd. -- each facing five indictments for alleged violations of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) -- were again pushed back at the re-scheduled Sept. 24 hearing.

The next court appearance is set for November 26.

The only news to come out of the recent appearance was the expansion of the defense legal team, resulting from the additional indictments made against ElcomSoft, the Moscow-based software company that employs Sklyarov, one of the developers of the Advanced eBook Processor program that the U. S. government charges violates section 1201 of the DMCA for cicumventing copyright protection.

Now representing Sklyarov is John W. Keker of Keker & Van Nest, a highly regarded lawyer and firm based in San Francisco. Keker, who tries jury cases ranging from patent infringement to palimony to criminal defense, is best known as the chief prosecutor of Oliver North after the Iran-Contra scandal in the late '80s.

Joseph Burton of Duane, Morris & Heckscher, originally retained by ElcomSoft to defend Sklyarov, continues to represent the company following its recent indictment.

In coverage of the high-profile trial, U. S. News & World Report magazine reported that "during the most fascinating week of the trial, as North was cross-examined by prosecutor John Keker, who is every bit the Marine that North is, the jurors seemed as transfixed as the nation..."

PBS Frontline program has called Keker "one of the best criminal defense attorneys in the country."

Keker apparently enjoys similar respect among lawyers in California, according to a recent survey on "The Lawyers Lawyers Would Hire If They Got Busted." [PDF: 50kb]

"John W. Keker of Keker & Van Nest in San Francisco, who is nobody's fool, is so confident in his abilities that he'd represent himself. He has plenty of company: His name was mentioned more often than any other when our surveyed lawyers were asked who they'd turn to if faced with serious charges."

'John embodies everything one looks for in a lawyer, whether criminal or civil,' says Tower C. Snow, chair of Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison in San Francisco. 'He's highly intelligent, creative, resourceful, tough, tenacious, a ruthless cross-examiner, and totally dedicated to the welfare of his clients.'

He's reportedly also a friend of Robert Mueller III, newly appointed director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Ironically, it was Mueller who, while head of the U.S Attorneys Office in San Francisco, created the Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property (CHIP) unit that is investigating the Sklyarov case.

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