The Silk Road episode is back in the news. This time, Ross Ulbricht’s defense is questioning the fairness of the trial that led to his conviction. Ross’ defense team has appealed his sentence in the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
Filed by the Ross Ulbricht’s defense counsel Joshua Dratel, the reply brief states that his client was wrongly convicted after being investigated by corrupt law enforcement officials. The appeal also refers to a list of abuses of discretionary authority by the court resulting in a gross violation of the defendant’s rights.
Ross Ulbricht aka Dread Pirate Roberts was arrested and convicted for running a deep web online marketplace for drugs, contraband, and weapons. He is currently serving a double life sentence for his role in Silk Road’s operations. The reply brief requests the court to vacate all convictions and order a retrial or re-sentencing before a different district judge.
Soon after his conviction, two law enforcement officers from the US DEA and US Secret Service pleaded guilty of crimes committed by them during the course of investigation. Both Carl Force of DEA and Shaun Bridges of the US Secret Service were responsible for extortion, theft, and misappropriation of Bitcoin belonging to Ross Ulbricht and Silk Road.
The appeal is based on the facts that these two officers played an important role in the arrest and conviction of Ross. The government is blamed for suppressing information about the ongoing criminal investigation into Shaun Bridges during the trial. The presiding judge during the trial, Katherine Forrest is also accused of illegitimately preventing Joshua Dratel from cross-examining few witnesses about certain technical points and disallowing two defense witnesses.
In addition to the shortcomings of the government and the presiding judge, the reply brief also claims that Ross Ulbricht’s Fourth Amendment right was violated by the government. The government is accused by the defense counsel for issuing unlawful warrants authorizing search and seizure of Ross Ulbricht’s data and belongings without stating any evidence against him at that time.
Also among the things appealed is the nature of sentence awarded to Ross by Judge Forrester. His life sentence without the possibility of parole was justified by connecting various unrelated drug overdose deaths where there is no definitive connection linking back to Silk Road. The punishment awarded by the court takes into account various factors for which he was not even charged with.
The comprehensive reply brief strikes a very convincing note, questioning the fairness of the trial. Read the whole reply brief here.
Ref: FreeRoss.org | Image: Rolling Stone