Judge Responds To Ross Ulbricht's Request For A New Trial: Ha Ha Ha Ha, No.

from the nice-try,-though dept

This is not a huge surprise, but the judge who oversaw Ross Ulbricht's trial for being the guy behind the original Silk Road wasted very little time in flat out rejecting his request for a new trial. To say that Judge Katherine Forrest is skeptical of his arguments would be an understatement. First, the straight up denial:
There is no basis in fact or law to grant the motion and it is DENIED.
And the basic idea behind the reasoning: overwhelming evidence that Ulbricht is guilty, according to the judge:
The evidence of Ulbricht’s guilt was, in all respects, overwhelming. It went unrebutted. This motion for a new trial urges that Ulbricht was prejudiced by that which he could not know in time, or at all. But the motion does not address how any additional evidence, investigation, or time would have raised even a remote (let alone reasonable) probability that the outcome of the trial would be any different.
It then proceeds to lay out the rather long list of evidence pointing a finger directly at Ulbricht to demonstrate just how little Ulbricht's side has going for his argument.

As for the three arguments made for a new trial, Judge Forrest finds none of them convincing. This included the fact that the Justice Department dumped a bunch of things on Team Ulbricht less than two weeks before the trial, including the investigation into two federal officers who were stealing money themselves from Ulbricht -- information that was revealed to Ulbricht's lawyers, but which they were barred from using at the trial, as the investigation was still ongoing at the time.
Despite the attention given to the Rogue Agents issue in defendant’s brief, this Court remains unclear (as it always was) as to how any information relating to that investigation is material or exculpatory vis-a-vis Ulbricht. Either the defense assumes the answer is so obvious that it need not explain, or its omission is purposeful. For purposes of the instant motion, this Court assumes that defendant believes he was deprived of information which would have revealed that (1) the Rogue Agents’ conduct may have tainted any evidence relating to the website (since they assumed identities on the site), (2) the Rogue Agents may provide a link to someone (including themselves) who may have taken over the DPR account and framed Ulbricht, and/or (3) the Rogue Agents may know the identity of the real DPR. There is no basis in the record—including in any of what defendant has cited regarding the Rogue Agents—which supports any one of these theories. These theories are based on no more than speculation and premised on erroneous assumptions as to the scope of discovery obligations and the meaning of exculpatory evidence.

To start, there is no basis for this Court to believe that any undisclosed materials relating to the Rogue Agents would have been remotely useful, let alone exculpatory, vis-à-vis Ulbricht. The Rogue Agents did not participate in the USAO-SDNY’s investigation of Silk Road that resulted in defendant’s arrest and indictment, and none of the evidence at defendant’s trial came from the USAOBaltimore investigation in which the Rogue Agents participated. That the Rogue Agents may have exceeded the scope of their authority in the USAO-Baltimore investigation does not, in any way, suggest that Ulbricht was not the Dread Pirate Roberts. As this Court explained in an earlier (sealed) ruling on this topic, the investigation of SA Force is, if anything, inculpatory as it suggests that Ulbricht, as DPR, was seeking to pay law enforcement for inside information to protect his illegal enterprise.

Moreover, even if defendant could point to a favorable piece of evidence from the investigation of the Rogue Agents, defendant has not constructed any argument that had he had earlier disclosure, the result of the trial may have been different. There is no reasonable probability of a different outcome here: the circumstances of defendant’s arrest, and the evidence found in his own possession at the time of the arrest, are in and of themselves overwhelming evidence of his guilt.
Ulbricht's other arguments fail, meaning it's likely that his lawyers will now move on to the appeals court to see if it has any more luck there, but it seems like a massive long shot.

Filed Under: katherine forrest, ross ulbricht, silk road, trial
Companies: silk road


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  • identicon
    Ragnarredbeard, 28 Apr 2015 @ 5:18am

    And this is a surprise?

    Ulbricht admitted in court he created the site and was DPR. You're not gonna get a new trial when the corrupt feds didn't have anything to do with Ulbricht's own admissions.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Apr 2015 @ 5:34am

    They could appeal and claim the investigaion was tainted. If he admitted to the facts in court on the stand it'll probably never go through.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Daydream, 28 Apr 2015 @ 5:56am

    Does something seem off?

    Maybe I'm misreading it, but that document?
    In section I: The Trial, it lists a LOT of proof that Ross is/was involved in the running of Silk Road; documents, chat logs, databases, financial records even...
    ...but it doesn't seem to list any evidence that proves that Ross was actually involved in buying and selling narcotics, the main crime/s he was charged for.

    True, as far as I know, the Silk Road site was used for lots of drug trafficking, but by itself, that's not proof that Ross was involved in distributing narcotics.
    Like how just because Youtube/Dailymotion/etc have a lot of pirated material uploaded to them, that doesn't make their owners automatically guilty of copyright infringement.
    The only illegal thing that he was, apparently, caught in the act for, was receiving a package containing 9 counterfeit driver's licenses.

    And even if running a website that lets users buy and sell drugs is firm grounds for a drug trafficking arrest (though I guess that does sound like it is), doesn't the list of charges sound a little off?
    I didn't see anything in the overview of the presented evidence to prove conspiracy to launder money, or prove conspiracy to abet computer hacking (selling tools isn't really enough...), or justify two separate drug trafficking charges (one distinguished with 'by Means of the Internet').

    ...Maybe I'm just seeing things?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      kallethen, 28 Apr 2015 @ 6:09am

      Re: Does something seem off?

      "Safe harbor" is only for DMCA, as I understand. I'm sure there's more to it than just that though.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Apr 2015 @ 8:30am

      Re: Does something seem off?

      Illegal sites don't have 512 protections; at least in theory. The most likely reason to grant an appeal would be if Dratel could prove that a parallel construction phenomenon took place, which is not implausible.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Agonistes, 28 Apr 2015 @ 7:00am

    I can't believe a judge is defending the judgement of the trial she just judged as being beyond reproach.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Apr 2015 @ 8:31am

      Re:

      Sarcasm is so hard to gauge when seen in writing... it is with great hope I read your post as being full to the brim with it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    DB (profile), 28 Apr 2015 @ 9:25am

    The phrase "rogue agents" doesn't really capture what happened. They were active criminals, with inside knowledge of the investigation and strong financial incentive to manipulate Silk Road and bitcoins.

    Their activity should have caused a re-investigation of the whole case, or at least a thorough impartial judicial review that goes well beyond a normal criminal case.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Apr 2015 @ 3:24pm

    What should've happened

    In my opinion, there's enough questionable allegations and conduct related to this trial to create the appearance of corruption. I don't care if there is any real corruption: the appearance of corruption can be just as bad, if not worse, in terms of undermining faith in the institution. So a retrial is necessary if people are to have faith in our judiciary, which is essential if our judiciary is to continue to function properly.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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