The criminal jury trial against Yevgeniy Nikulin, the Russian hacker accused of stealing data from LinkedIn and other U.S.-based tech firms, will begin in January, United States District Judge William Alsup ordered on Tuesday.
The decision was a denial of the defense’s entreaties to delay the beginning of the case. Nikulin’s lawyers say they have not been able to adequately prepare for trial in the time allotted to them by the court.
“No, we need to get the trial moving,” Alsup said, apparently unmoved. “This case is drifting, progress is not being made at a fast enough pace.”
The exact date will be decided upon soon after prosecutors and defense counsel discuss the issue. Alsup gave the lawyers just a few weeks leeway in proposing a start time.
The defense cites the “voluminous discovery, including several terabytes of server logs and Internet service provider records” along with “thousands of pages of reports and analysis” that prosecutors produced during the discovery phase of the trial.
“Thus, given the sheer volume and complexity of discovery,” the defense explained, “counsel for the Defendant will not be able to complete an adequate assessment of the case in order to be ready to be prepared for trial setting currently schedule for June 26, 2018.”
Nikulin, who has been in solitary confinement for weeks, has been uncommunicative with his lawyers, the defense team said in filings on Monday. Due to “stress levels and strange behaviors,” Nikulin’s lawyers requested a mental health assessment and preliminary documents from Santa Rita Jail, where he is being held.
The defense also said they were struggling to explain the U.S. justice system to Nikulin, who has been in two foreign prisons.
The defense may yet request a full psychiatric examination.
Arkady Bukh, one of Nikulin’s lawyers, told CyberScoop at the very beginning of this trial that Nikulin was “depressed.”
The next hearing in the case will take place on July 24. By that time, Judge Alsup wants to know definitively if a mental evaluation is necessary in order to move the case forward.