Aaron Swartz Unlikely To Face Jail Or Conviction... Until Feds Decided To 'Send A Message'
from the prosecutorial-discretion dept
Things just keep looking worse and worse in the Carmen Ortiz/Stephen Heymann vendetta against Aaron Swartz. Now it's come out that state prosecutors, who were originally looking into the case had no interest in pursuing felony charges or prison time... until Carmen Ortiz and her team showed up. Instead, state prosecutors had focused on the initial charges: "breaking and entering in the daytime" which they expected "would be continued without a finding, with Swartz duly admonished and then returned to civil society to continue his pioneering electronic work in a less legally questionable manner." Instead, the report notes:
Tragedy intervened when Ortiz’s office took over the case to send “a message.”In case you were wondering what "continued without a finding" means, Harvey Silvergate (author of Three Felonies a Day) explained to Declan McCullagh:
"Continuance without a finding" was the anticipated disposition of the case were the charge to remain in state court, with the Middlesex County District Attorney to prosecute it. Under such a disposition, the charge is held in abeyance ("continued") without any verdict ("without a finding"). The defendant is on probation for a period of a few months up to maybe a couple of years at the most; if the defendant does not get into further legal trouble, the charge is dismissed, and the defendant has no criminal record. This is what the lawyers expected to happen when Swartz was arrested for "trespassing at MIT." But then the feds took over the case, and the rest is tragic history.The report above also notes that Ortiz is in some additional hot water, as another one of her overreach cases, involving an attempt to seize a family-owned motel in Massachusetts by claiming that it was "facilitating drug crimes" has failed miserably, tossed out by the magistrate judge. Not only was it noted that there were only 15 drug-related incidents over a 15 year period (during which 196,000 rooms were rented out), but also, the motel owners worked closely with local police to deal with drug issues and that other local businesses that had drug incidents were not targeted by Ortiz.