Silk Road

Silk Road Judge Seems Interested in Harm Reduction Argument in Ulbricht Sentencing


I reported last month that the government wants to introduce the notion that drugs bought on the Silk Road allegedly killed six people into the sentencing of Ross Ulbricht, convicted back in February on various charges connected with his founding and running the darkweb sales site.

I also reported then that Ulbricht's lawyer Joshua Dratel wanted to counter with evidence about how Silk Road may have saved lives through harm reduction aspects of its functioning, which could be said to include everything from eliminating the need to physically meet people outside your home (or invite stangers into your home) to the crowd-ratings of dealers and their products on the site to the harm reduction intelligence available on its forums.

This week both Wired and The New York Times have reported extensively on the sort of arguments Dratel introduced. 

The sentencing letter from Dratel to Forrest, containing all their arguments as to Silk Road's potentially life-saving qualities.

Today Tim Bingham, one of the experts on the topic who I quoted in my December Reason feature on the rise and fall of Silk Road, posted a document from Judge Katherine Forrest today indicating she's at least interested in those arguments. In it she wrote:

The parties are advised that the Court shall review a number of sources cited in the articles submitted by the defense and, to the extent appropriate, refer to them. Among those is "Not an 'Ebay for Drugs': The Cryptomarket 'Silk Road' as a Paradigm Shifting Criminal Innovation" by Judith Aldridge and David Décary-Hétu.

I wrote back in February on why Ulbricht's conviction was a blow against safety, peace, liberty, and justice.

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  1. Too bad he got sloppy and got caught (at a library near me, by the way).

    1. Is that right…

      *scribbles furiously in notepad*

    2. Was it your jerkin’ library?

  2. In re: harm reduction

    Are they going to mention that Silk Road never flashbanged any toddlers in the face?

    1. You say it like that toddler didn’t totally have it coming, what with being distantly related to a drug dealer who wasn’t present during the raid and all.

  3. fascinating case. Brilliant move by defense.

    If everyone that did drugs (5%?) would just order drugs online a critical mass of liberty would be achieved.

    1. 5% ????

      Please. It’s really about 99.99% depending on how you define ‘drugs’, but even using the standard prohibitionist definition about 50% of Americans are users.

      My apologies if that is not what you meant by 5%.

  4. Or it will just be a deal to drop any time for house arrest and no further appeals.

  5. DO NOT expect the judge to listen to reason.

    He might, but it is exceeding unlikely.

    1. CatoTheElder|5.19.15 @ 11:09PM|#
      “DO NOT expect the judge to listen to reason.”

      Agreed. A ruling based on cost/benefit is subject to review like any other, and c/b isn’t going to last beyond one level.
      Nor would the judge’s rep.

  6. The sentencing letter from Dratel to Forrest, containing all their arguments as to Silk Road’s potentially life-saving qualities.

    What if you’re done and want to die? Why is this case even in the court system to begin with? Did you let your dog poop my on front lawn without cleaning it up? That’s a court case!

  7. Unlike law, reason escapes the institutions of socialized morality and codified concern. Almost no judge born will fathom that reason is superior to law which is why the vast majority of these ego-inflated husks gavel lives away with annoyed disinterest.

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