Silk Road's Ross Ulbricht appeals conviction and life sentence


#1

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#2

I was wondering what ever happened to the attempted murder charge. But he’s right to appeal this one, both the charge and the sentence are far outside normal jurisprudence. His own fate aside, it sets a horrible precedent for even greater abuses in the war on drugs.


#3

The accused him, but they never charged him. I just can’t imagine why a prosecutor would do such a thing…


#4

Probably because of the two corrupt federal agents involved in it and not wanting all of the details of that to be entered as legal evidence?


#5

Good chance. Also a good chance of lack of evidence to support charges of murder-for-hire.


#6

In addition to the two federal agents facing charges for wirefraud that make the evidence a little dicey, the burden of proof is much harder. Because nobody actually got killed, and in fact the supposed targets are apparently fictitious people, they have to prove that he believed that it was real. As opposed to, say, a show put on to intimidate his other dealers into not ratting him out. It is a much harder case to make than if there were actual killings because it relies on his mental state. Those charges may yet go through, but as a practical matter I doubt there is much urgency for the maryland prosecutors. The guy is already in jail for life without parole, and I wouldn’t put money on this appeal.

My understanding is that he can’t challenge the admissibility of evidence on appeal unless he argues that his lawyer acted incompetently. Which may sound promising based on his lack of a defense, but this isn’t some overworked public defender who didn’t know anything about the case, or some inexperienced family friend with no criminal law background. This is a well paid, well respected, and experienced lawyer who has worked other high profile cases. It sounds like he is going to hang is appeal on the corrupt agents in the murder-for-hire case. Those charges were presented in this trial to paint him as a ruthless kingpin rather than an idealistic libertarian trying to reduce harm from drugs or a naive kid in over his head. However, the actual conviction for drug trafficking and running a criminal enterprise don’t actually depend on that.

Since he was sentenced within the guidelines for the crimes he was convinced of, I don’t even think he has much of a chance getting the sentence reduced.


#7

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