Magistrate says no questioning FBI in hacking case

A federal magistrate judge has told defense attorneys they can’t question FBI agents who scoured the laptop of a University of Tennessee student charged with improperly accessing Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s personal e-mail account.

The Knoxville News-Sentinel said U.S. Magistrate Judge Clifford Shirley ruled Thursday that he must first decide if the search itself was legal before deciding whether to examine what agents did once they seized David Kernell’s computer.

Kernell, the son of a Democratic Tennessee legislator, is accused of gaining access to Palin’s account in September by correctly answering a series of personal security questions. He has pleaded not guilty.

Kernell’s attorneys have sought to exclude evidence seized from the computer from Kernell’s trial. Palin was the Republican vice presidential candidate at the time.