Thursday, June 1, 2017

Ross Ulbricht Loses His Appeal Over Conviction and Sentencing in Silk Road Case

The Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit yesterday upheld the conviction and sentencing of Ross Ulbricht for life without parole based on crimes associated with launching and operating the Silk Road website.

Ulbricht's lead lawyer Joshua Dratel argued on appeal that Ulbricht "has a constitutional privacy interest in IP address traffic to and from his home and that the government obtained the pen/trap orders without a warrant, which would have required probable cause."

Judge Gerard E. Lynch disagreed.

Ulbricht also argued that the computer age requires rethinking that third party principle, since we are giving up so much information about our whereabouts and associates that we are not consciously considering.

But Lynch said "We remain bound, however, by that rule until and unless it is overruled by the Supreme Court."

Ulbricht's defense argued that the search of all the contents of the laptop the FBI stole from him when arresting him was unconstitutionally overbroad, amounting to a prohibited "general warrant" and not a specifically targeted legitimate search.

Lynch disagreed with that.

Ulbricht's legal team further argued that the fact the government withheld information regarding corruption investigations into two agents who were part of the investigation against him, Secret Service Agent Shaun Bridges and Drug Enforcement Administration Agent Carl Force, "deprived him of a fair trial....Ulbricht did not learn of Bridges's corrupt conduct until after trial when the criminal complaint against both agents was unsealed. Thus, in his motion for a new trial, he argued that the belated disclosure violated his due process rights under Brady v. Maryland."

Lynch didn't believe that was enough to reconsider the conviction,

Ulbricht's appeal argued that having a couple of his expert witnesses denied access to the stand harmed his fair trial; Lynch disagreed.

Finally, Ulbricht's defense wanted to argue that the cumulative effect of all the problems it found with the original trial resulted in a denial of a fair trial. No go, said Lynch: "The challenged trial rulings were well within the district court's discretion, and the various exclusions did not prevent the defense from offering evidence probative of innocence."

Regarding the sentence of life without parole for crimes that amounted to operating a web site that other people used to sell drugs, which the appeal considered unjust and unreasonable, Lynch was again not persuaded.

 Ulbricht's mother Lyn Ulbricht, says she expects Ross appeal,

The above via Reason. More detail there.


  1. From Reason:

    And pay careful attention to this:

    "In this case, a reminder of the consequences of facilitating such transactions was perhaps more necessary, particularly because Ulbricht claimed that his site actually made the drug trade safer, and he appeared to contest the legitimacy of the laws he violated."

    In other words, the fact that Ulbricht and his defense team dared to state out loud the obvious facts of the harm reduction benefits of Silk Road and dared suggest the laws against drug sales in this manner might not be legitimate justified the insanely harsh sentence of life without parole.

  2. If Trump truly wanted to be a great president, he would pardon Ross immediately. Stick it to the powers that be.

  3. Re: Ulbricht’s complaint that sentencing was too severe, the judge said this (from Reason article):

    "No federal judge needs to be reminded of the tragic consequences of the traffic in dangerous substances on the lives of users and addicts, or of the risks of overdose and other ramifications of the most dangerous of illegal drugs..." ,

    implying that drug users are infantile and do not know what is good for them, and that because Ulbricht is not an MD licensed by the state and approved by the state to dispense state approved drugs he is responsible for the harm that people do to themselves when they ingest these drugs.

    The judge could have made the argument based on that premise that “no federal judge needs to be reminded of the tragic consequences of the traffic in dangerous cars on the lives of users and car addicts, or of the risks of speeding and other ramifications of the most dangerous of illegal vehicles.”

    Of course, this is moot since those who claim they have a right to rule us have not yet outlawed our cars completely; though they are doing their damnedest to substitute what they want our cars to be for what we prefer them to be.