The LA Times is carrying a remarkable story about a man charged with criminal offences in relation to the leaking of documents of Diebold Corporation, makers of electronic ballot systems used in US elections.

The defendant was apparently a word processor operator at law firm Jones Day who came across documents from Diebold, for whom Jones Day was acting at the time. It’s not clear whether he took the documents themselves (which seems to be the case, given the theft count) or whether he made copies of them (in which case one might expect a copyright infringement allegation at some point), but he apparently disclosed them to an Oakland paper, which published them.

The documents concerned alleged use by Diebold of uncertified voting systems, which were later found to be substantiated; Diebold paid a substantial sum to settle a civil lawsuit, and were required to make programming changes and submit them to a federal panel to be re-certified.

The report is a little skimpy on facts, but it reads like an exam question, raising questions of possible theft of documents, general breach of confidence, and likely breach of any confidentiality provisions in his contract of employment/engagement. Not to mention that the documents seem very likely to have been subject to legal professional privilege…