United States v. Hanjuan Jin
United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
733 F.3d 718 (2013)
Although the Motorola company was phasing out its so-called iDEN communications system, iDEN remained popular with international police and military forces, who valued iDEN’s many security features. Before leaving her job as a Motorola engineer, Hanjuan Jin (defendant) knowingly downloaded thousands of iDEN-related trade secrets and booked a flight to China, where Hanjuan Jin intended to use the documents to snag a job with a Chinese defense contractor. Federal agents arrested Hanjuan Jin at the airport. The United States government (plaintiff) prosecuted Hanjuan Jin in federal district court, alleging that she committed both economic espionage and trade-secret theft in violation of the Economic Espionage Act of 1996 (EEA). Following a bench trial, the judge found preponderant evidence that Hanjuan Jin knowingly misappropriated Motorola’s iDEN trade secrets with the intent of benefitting the Chinese government, or at least with the knowledge that the Chinese defense contractor might share those trade secrets with the Chinese government, which could use the secrets to hack into foreign military networks and develop its own knockoff rival to iDEN. The judge acknowledged that this preponderant evidence did not rise to the level of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, and therefore, the judge found Hanjuan Jin not guilty of economic espionage. However, the judge found that the same evidence conclusively established that Hanjuan Jin conducted the distinct crime of trade-secret theft. The judge’s preponderant-evidence finding on the espionage charge triggered a requirement in the Federal Sentencing Guidelines for an enhanced penalty on the theft conviction. After ignoring certain aggravating factors and crediting certain mitigating factors, the judge imposed a moderately enhanced sentence. Hanjuan Jin appealed both the theft conviction and her sentence to the Seventh Circuit.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Posner, J.)
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