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Judge loses cool at 360 hacker trial

Roasted prosecutors drop their case.

A first-of-its-kind court case brought against an alleged Xbox 360 modder has been dismissed after the judge gave prosecutors a 30 minute dressing-down.

As reported by Wired, US district judge Philip Gutierrez bellowed that he had "serious concerns about the government's case," adding, "I really don't understand what we're doing here."

He then criticised prosecutors of 28-year-old Matthew Crippen, who was accused of two counts of violating the anti-circumvention provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, for calling witnesses who could also be guilty of criminal behaviour themselves.

The defence claimed Entertainment Software Association investigator Tony Rosario violated California privacy law when he secretly videotaped Crippen allegedly performing an Xbox mod in his LA home.

Microsoft security employee Ken McGrail, who inspected two consoles allegedly tampered with by Crippen, admitted that he had modded Xboxes while at college too.

"Maybe two of the four government witnesses committed crimes," the judge said. "I think it is relevant and the jury is going to hear about it – both crimes."

Prosecutors were arguing that Crippen ran a small business modifying Xbox 360 firmware to allow users to run pirated games, an offence that could carry a maximum 10 year prison tarrif.

Crippen had attempted to argue a "fair use" defence, claiming it was legal to hack the consoles on the grounds that the mod had non-infringing purposes, like running homebrew software or backing-up games.

The judge had initially prohibited him from doing so but then backtracked during the course of his rant.

Once the judge was done with his outburst, prosecutor Allen Chiu meekly said, "I apologise to the court" and asked for a recess to determine whether they would offer the defendant a deal, dismiss the case entirely or go ahead with the trial.

Just before the trial was set to begin Chiu told the judge, "The government has decided to dismiss the indictment," allowing Crippen to walk free