Three Years After Ulbricht’s Arrest, Judges Re-Examine Silk Road Case
On October 6, after spending three years behind bars, Ross Ulbricht returned to a Manhattan courtroom to face a panel of judges, who heard his defense team’s appeal of the double life sentence Ulbricht received over a year ago.
Three Judges Review the Ross Ulbricht Case
A three-judge panel reviewed arguments given by defense attorney Joshua Dratel concerning the trial of Ross Ulbricht. Dratel explained the appeal, arguing that many of the trial’s elements were obfuscated and mismanaged.
The defense spoke about multiple issues concerning the case. One compelling question that continually surfaces is how the Silk Road server was seized. The server takedown was explained lightly during the trial, but the defense argues that testimony from the agent involved didn’t add up. The implications of the server seizure could change the tone of the case, with the defense suggesting that authorities violated Ulbricht’s 4th amendment rights.
Dratel also detailed how the court denied the admittance of two expert witnesses, as well as the significant impact two rogue officers had on the investigation.
Mostly, Ulbricht’s defense questioned the double life sentence Ulbricht received, calling the punishment harsh.
Testimony from some attendees say the judges seemed to question the justification of Ulbricht’s sentence. Additionally, the judges picked apart some of the complex aspects of the case, possibly recognizing how skewed the trial turned out to be.
A Call to Emotion
During one instance, the judges openly criticized the parents of overdose victims who testified against Ulbricht. Appellate Judge Gerald Lynch said, “Does this [testimony] create an enormous emotional overload for something that’s effectively present in every heroin case? Why does this guy get a life sentence?”
Many people feel Judge Katherine Forrest, who presided over last year’s trial, showed extreme bias. With emotional dredging coming from both Judge Forrest and the prosecution, the defense argues that the trial seemed very one-sided against Ulbricht.
Additionally, the defense accuses Forrest of using hearsay about alleged murders for hire to tarnish Ulbricht’s character. He never received charges for those alleged crimes.
After the trial concluded, the parents of Ross Ulbricht stated, “there wasn’t a trial at all.”
View From the Courtroom
Andy Greenberg, the Wired journalist who spoke with the Dread Pirate Roberts before Ulbricht’s arrest, said the appellate judges didn’t seem to care much about the two rogue officers.
Judge Lynch explained there wasn’t much evidence pointing to the agents tampering with the Silk Road server. Greenberg details that the prosecution confirmed no evidence from the trial linked the undercover agents to any misconduct surrounding the server.
According to Greenberg, many visitors at the oral argument believed the questioning of the sentencing was most effective.
Bitcoin.com spoke with Ulbricht supporter and musician Tatiana Moroz, who witnessed the oral appeal. Moroz says the judges seemed engaged throughout the proceeding, but did not give away their opinions regarding the fairness of Ulbricht’s trial.
“Honestly, I don’t know what I can say about how the appeal went. It’s hard to tell what the outcome will be but it seemed like the judges were really engaged,” Moroz said.
“Regardless, I do feel good about it, and I am always sure to remember Ross’s words to me which were, ‘as long as we are alive, there is a reason to hope.’ So much love and effort is put into this, so even though the outcome is unknown, right now, people are being brought together.”
Three Years In Prison So Far For Hosting a Website
On October 1, 2013, US authorities placed Ross Ulbricht in custody. Since then, Ulbricht has worked with his attorneys, immediately preparing himself for an appeal after his sentencing.
Ross’s family has stayed at his side the entire time, becoming full-time activists in the process. The family believes the whole case has been a horrifying example of the justice system gone wrong. They say the appeal has important implications for “due process rights, fair trials, legal warrants and reasonable sentencing.”
The Ulbricht family says Ross is doing well, contributing his time and talents towards helping his fellow inmates. The family expresses its gratitude to all the people who have supported the campaign and the many who continue to donate. The family says, “we are grateful to you for not forgetting Ross.”
What do you think about Ross Ulbricht’s appeal? Let us know in the comments below.