Silk Road

Ross Ulbricht's Lawyer Josh Dratel Talks After His Client Gets Unjust Life Sentence

Hints at appeals strategy and that untried murder for hire accusations shaped the absurdly excessive life sentence.

|

Reason TV's Anthony Fisher supplied me with audio from a post-sentencing question-answering session from Ross Ulbricht's lawyer Joshua Dratel today after Ulbricht received a horrifically unjust life without parole for a non-violent first offense of running a website on which people could buy and sell (in relative safety) illegal drugs.

Some highlights from Dratel. He stressed one major fact that will likely be part of the forthcoming appeal: "We know the case agent who made first contact with Dread Pirate Roberts [DEA agent Carl Force] was in fact entirely corrupt and had a confederate Secret Service agent [Shaun Bridges] who was entirely corrupt and we were not permitted to use that information in any respect."

That's even though a homeland security agent from Chicago, Jared Der-Yeghiayan, who was a key anti-Ulbricht witness was in "intimate and regular contact with" those indicted agents. "It's a major issue" and they were "not allowed to mention any of that at trial," Dratel said.

Overall Dratel said he was "disappointed but not surprised" by the sentence, and said out loud something I suggested and wondered about earlier today: that "prejudice of uncharged and unproven conduct [the notorious untried accusations of Ulbricht soliciting bogus murders for hire that never occurred] drove this sentence dramatically. It was not about the crime he was convicted of."

Dratel also feels that testimony from alleged victims' families of Silk Road-enabled overdoses returned us to a less civilized time when "we let victims decide punishment" and he considers that "moving backward." Allowing that to come up in the sentencing was a "transparent appeal to emotion beyond what the crime was."

There were also comments from Ulbricht's parents most of which I could not make out from the audio, though Ms. Lyn Ulbricht was concerned about her harmless, nonviolent son being locked in a violent dangerous place like a maximum security prison. She wondered whether the government considered itself liable for at least two of the supposed "Silk Road deaths" of overdoses from drugs supposedly bought via the site since they happend after the government had "taken control" of the site's servers.

Freeross.org still is up for those who want to help fund the appeal of this horrendous injustice.

Advertisement

NEXT: Why law professors might invite students to work on briefs, for no credit and no money

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Define unjust.

    1. I’m popping some fucking corn. You define ‘just’.

      1. Just: in the very recent past.

        Example: I just had dinner.

        1. Unjust: To eat dinner

          I just unjusted dinner

    2. Anything a State does, or statist wants to do with State power.

      1. That’s an interesting definition. When you say anything, do you mean anything anything?

        1. Government is force. Its only purpose is to prohibit or compel; coercion is its core competence and violence its tool.

          IOW, by definition, government does things to people who haven’t harmed anybody and don’t want it. What better definition of unjust do you want?

          1. I don’t want anything in particular. As far as I’m concerned, just and unjust are so stupidly subjective as to be useless. But when a writer uses unjust as the lynchpin of his argument, I’d like to know how exactly he’s defining unjust. And using circular reasoning, saying giving a lifetime sentence to a person running a drug trading website is unjust therefore this is unjust, is lazy.

            If you want to go with the “everything the government says is a lie and everything it has it has taken” line, that’s good enough for me. Everybody has a different idea of what’s what here.

            1. Ok, Plato, there’s no such thing as justice. Here’s a few thoughts that still apply and should pass muster.

              1. Government is compulsion. By definition, it uses force and theft to compel behavior of unwilling subjects. Therefore, anything it does is immoral, even if some outcomes are positive. If the courts adjudicate something in a fashion that mimics the best possible outcome one could imagine, it remains immoral if only for the fact that the courts usurped that power from free people. If I steal money from everyone on the block and use it to keep a kindly old grandfather out of foreclosure, it remains an immoral act.

              2. Justice in our society is a synonym for fairness. Fairness here refers to both equality before the law and punishment commensurate with the offense, which is derived from equality before the law. In this instance, not only do most people referring to this as unjust not believe that an offense has been committed, i.e. there is no wronged party, but they also believe that the sentencing was based not on principles of justice but on personal whimsy, i.e. the sentencing was an act of revenge by the government.

              Any way you want to slice it, the sentence was immoral and unjust.

              1. Enforcing contracts is unjust?

    3. This sentence relative to those imposed on many convicted of violent acts (including those resulting in death) suggests somewhere justice is being perverted.

      1. This at least makes more sense than just saying “government is bad, mmkay”.

        And by the way, government is bad, mmkay.

    4. “Unjust” Bankers launder 100’s of Billions of cartel money and walk free.

  2. She wondered whether the government considered itself liable for at least two of the supposed “Silk Road deaths” of overdoses from drugs supposedly bought via the site since they happend after the government had “taken control” of the site’s servers.

    If only. That dog don’t hunt. Seattle Police put up a pawn shop as a honeypot for stolen goods. During that time, breakins went through the roof, and my house got hit twice, the neighbor twice, houses across the street and so on.

    Seattle Police deny that offering a honeypot for stolen goods had any affect on breakin rates during that time.

    1. Breakin 22: Honeypot Boogaloo?

  3. The judge also, supposedly, got threatened, hacked and harassed by internet activists who were, supposedly, in support of Ulbricht. I think she got a hard on for this guy early on.

    1. Huh…

      Note to hackers: Do this after the trial.

  4. Of course he was going to get reamed like this. He made the DEA and the government look like the idiotic chumps they are. Silk Road simultaneously showed that the government couldn’t nail some guy with a simple “illegal” website for a long damn time while showing that completely unregulated consensual transactions were actually perfectly damn safe and smooth. These are all things the goons in government can not abide. It exposes them for what they are: incompetent buffoons whose only purpose is to exert power and control and extort money.

    “We know the case agent who made first contact with Dread Pirate Roberts [DEA agent Carl Force] was in fact entirely corrupt and had a confederate Secret Service agent [Shaun Bridges] who was entirely corrupt and we were not permitted to use that information in any respect.”

    I guarantee that the investigating agents were told to fucking get him no matter what it took, and they would be protected. The simple existence of Silk Road made the government look like chumps. We’ve seen what any criminal organization (including governments) does to people who make them look really bad regarding one of their core powers; they use them as an example.

    Ulbricht is the example for anyone who thinks of doing more Silk Roads.

    1. Yes… use some sort of kill switch on your laptop.

      1. Among other things, yes.

    2. Ulbricht is the example for anyone who thinks of doing more Silk Roads.

      And I highly doubt this is going to stop them. They can’t get everyone.

      1. As discussed in a previous thread, it is my opinion that since they have raised the stakes, the next Silk Road will be run by real dangerous criminal types.

      2. Just as breaking up Napster was the dumbest possible move for the music industry, so was breaking up Silk Road for the drug warriors.

      3. You’d be surprised how much of your money they have to dump into trying, especially for the more high-profile, “embarrassing” ones.

        And also, what Paul said. They just upped the stakes. That changes who is willing to accept the risk (for concomitantly higher profits), and it isn’t the Boy Scouts.

        1. Even if their efforts are futile they still get paid and get otter benefits.

          1. I prefer otter benefits.

    3. I’m just fucking surprised they ‘didn’t ding him for the child porn on his computer’ which is really fucking easy to do when you are the DEA and a trillion-dollar prosecutor.

      1. See, you didn’t even need me to define ‘just’ to use it properly.

  5. Dratel also feels that testimony from alleged victims’ families of Silk Road-enabled overdoses returned us to a less civilized time when “we let victims decide punishment”

    I’m not sure that was entirely less civilized. But none of those parents could properly be described as victims. As far as I can tell, the only victim in this case was the defendant.

    1. The sentence reads victims’ families of Silk road-enabled overdoses. So yeah – I think they could be described as families of victims.

      I don’t know anything about this case – but if people did die because of what they bought on that site, then why shouldn’t the guy be held criminally liable for that? Even a life sentence is a far lesser penalty than what would have been inflicted on him if courts/state didn’t exist and if justice was up to those families.

      1. why shouldn’t the guy be held criminally liable for that

        Because OD’ing is the user’s fault, not the supplier’s?

        1. Sounds to me like you want a very powerful state to parse who is responsible for people’s deaths – and to protect them.

          Because I can assure you, if one of those who OD’d was in my family – and courts didn’t exist – that guy would be very very dead right now.

          1. Sounds to me like you’re advocating for that powerful state for rejecting self-ownership. That someone who does voluntary buys something explicitly known to be dangerous to themselves could not possibly have voluntarily done it. No they must always be victims. The site even had a harm reduction doctor onboard to offer its users advice to reduce the OD potential. But nope, in your world everyone’s a victim.

            Because I can assure you, if one of those who OD’d was in my family – and courts didn’t exist – that guy would be very very dead right now.

            Right, because after all, your family members don’t own themselves. It must be you who decides their fate right? But then who decides yours? Apply your logic to everyone and ultimately you end up with the state owning everyone, basically not unlike today

            In a truly free world, no one can stop you from trying to go after them, but you would certainly be facing the end of a barrel yourself.

            1. If they had a ‘harm reduction doctor’; then that pretty much proves that they knew that what they were selling (or the way in which they were selling it) was dangerous.

              In your world, it seems there is no such thing as criminal negligence. If there is, where do you draw the line? Is pouring poison in the water supply? How about designing an unsafe product because a safe product is too expensive?

              I’m in favor of legalized drugs. I oppose to my bones your philosophical masturbation that completely excuses anyone from any consequences of their actions.

              1. If they had a ‘harm reduction doctor’; then that pretty much proves that they knew that what they were selling (or the way in which they were selling it) was dangerous.

                Of course! It should be obvious to anyone. The fact that it was made clear, if not already tacitly clear from the nature of the item, actually REMOVES any liability on their part once the buyer decides to buy.
                Again: self-ownership

                You seem to want to pin liability arbitrarily based on subjective notions what you think who should be responsible for what.

                In a just world, any negligence comes purely from what is and is not agreed upon by the parties involved in the transaction, not uninvolved persons like you. It’s pure logic. There’s no arbitrary line decided by some ultimate state or god.

                Are you going to hold gun manufacturers responsible for self injury? Are you going to hold knife makers responsible if a person cuts himself? Hell, by your logic, suicide would be illegal.

              2. I oppose to my bones your philosophical masturbation that completely excuses anyone from any consequences of their actions.

                Unless that person OD’d on drugs, in which case it’s the nearest scapegoat who gets to suffer from the consequences of those particular actions, right? I don’t know what “philosophical masturbation” means, but I do know that if you claim to have a principle but only apply it in those situations you find favorable to your emotions, you don’t actually have a principle.

          2. Because I can assure you, if one of those who OD’d was in my family – and courts didn’t exist – that guy would be very very dead right now.

            Fuck the rule of law, right? Because feelz.

            1. The ‘rule of law’ does not exist without government. And there is nothing that says ‘rule of law’ stops with limited government either.

              1. You seem to live in this fantasy world where business people are out to harm their customers. Scrooge McDopeDealer is swimming in his millions while his customers drop dead and oh, wait, no more customers. It doesn’t compute.

                1. You seem to live in a fantasy world where businesses are motivated by benevolence rather than self-interest.

      2. Sorry, victims? Were the people who overdosed forced to take drugs? I’ve woken up with hangovers that accurately approximate the pain of natural childbirth, but that doesn’t make me a victim, it makes me an idiot with self-control issues.

      3. Ulbricht did not inject the drugs into the “victims”. What you are suggesting is that we hold liquor stores responsible for DUI deaths, or even the car dealership. That we should hold gun retailers responsible for murders.

        The problem is people refuse to accept responsibility for their, or their loved ones, actions. Everything is everyone’s else’s fault. “Poor little Johnny would never take a drug. It had to be that evil drug dealer who forced Johnny at gunpoint to buy and ingest those drugs.”

  6. I guess it wouldn’t be Friday without a swift set of nutpunches to cap off the week.

    1. It was kind of a nutpunch flurry.

      1. Which… sounds like something you get a the drivethru at Dairy Queen.

        1. Dairy Queen sloppy seconds would probably not sell well, bro.

          1. *looks at waittress*

            I want what he’s having!

            1. Your fucking cock lava is filled with sperm assasins, man. I have fucked pussies with sperm dripping from them but only my favorite sex party vaginas and cocks and I my mind imagined in the fucking body-quaking inducing sperm ninja killers orgasms that perhaps my goddamn sperm were fucking Nazis going on genocidal on all the other vagina sperm… and then i rolled over fucked up on coke and booze and had more than once my lofty spheres of ejaculating sperm assassins into adorable vaginas because my fucking sperm river was brutally ended on a table of melting flesh as a dedicated and strangely handsome man and his milf helper ended my ability to create sperm Russians. I have great streams but these streams are purely decorative, man. Purely fucking tapestries to a great manhood.

              1. I can’t even understand this fucking shit. WHAT THE FUCK!

                1. Though I have fucked pussies dripping with my fav dude’s sperm ninjas tho and and favorite pussies are awesome to be associations with. My favorite dude and his wife are fucking brutal man… these dudes would make even feelings-crystalline super girlfriend village of Hollywood shrink in horror. AMERICA AND HOLLYWOOD would die forever if we put that in film.

                  My hot wife and I once a fucking super late night in Columbus last Fall at a superfucking great bar somewhere downtown left with me fucked up and his wife fucked up and he was fucked up and my lovely wife decided to stray sober and drive us all fucked up at 3 in the morning to a fucking great red roof Inn in Dublin and before we left the fucking tavern this super pretty bitch sat on a sidewalk and peed a million gallons of hot superwoman juice and then we drove off into a red roof sun and on the way my dude and his wife got into a fucking hardcore cocksucking session in the back seat man… dude., like she was screaming for cock in her hammered throat and he was smashing the back of her onto his cock and she was scream gagging and begging to be cock throated and my wife looked at my fucking wide-eyeed enjoyment and she said this to me., “this is some great fucking shit not many will hear on a fucking weekend, dude” and I nodded in agreement and the hot bitch and dude screamed and gurgled in the back seat… I cleaned up fucking piles of cum and spit in the morning man. … gallons of sex were plastered everywhere, man

                  1. *looks around*

                    May flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.

                    Sorry, it was the only thing that came to mind.

                    1. Well that was brilliant but I don’t really want to be that FUCKING temporary, PAUL!

                    2. AC I have said it time, and time again. You are a true poet. =)

                    3. And Jpyra is a billion kittens in a sweet letter of massive kissmodos to his vector angels.

  7. It occurred to me last night that if I wanted to create fully encrypted ISP that shielded my own users from the ISP owners, sort of ala LavaBit, would Net Neutrality rules forbid that (putting aside the obvious argument that the feds would shut me down using other vectors… ala LavaBit)?

    1. What do you think? Do you think that if the government is going to “take over” the internet with NN anyway, it’s not going to make sure that it can interpret its own rules to allow it to do that? Come on. It’s actually what NN is all about–controlling the internet–even though the NN-supporting mongoloids are too stupid to see that.

      1. You have to break a few eggs to make those dirty ISP shitlords pay.

        Despite the fact that they’ll come out of this with greater market dominance than ever before.

        “Mongoloids” is putting it lightly.

        1. But…Comcast!

    2. There is already existing regulation that makes this illegal. Google CALEA.

  8. There seem to be very few independent judges. Unless there’s a personal grudge against someone on the prosecution side, they’re pretty much prosecutors themselves.

    1. Judges are not as lofty as they seem. Judges are over-weighted and over-paid fucking oldtime newspaper sales card clickers. If you remember the 80’s clickers. Judges are over-rated shitheads. 90% of them can’t meet the intelligence of an average Reason poster who is abnormally brilliant.

    2. As far as the government is concerned, that is a feature, not a bug.

      Kind of like the way your mom thinks of crabs.

      1. My mom was an evangelical raised on the holy prayers of Christ and if she even ever once considered crabs her lovely christian Huckabee/Santorum/Branham mind would fling horror frisbees all over her county, man.

        1. Please don’t indulge his mother fetish. In fact, I’m going to designate Episiarch a mom troll.

          1. nothing wrong with imaging your mother Fist going down on your dick because you fucking got fucked up in a protest and a fuckin cop broke your arm and leg and you had to heal back at home and mom got lonely cuz dad was in China for his production deals.. the commies love dads and keep them until mommy gets tired and lonely.. and Fist was eating a lonely burger one of these African nights lonely as fuck and hammered on coke and african plants and mommy creptout on the pool at 3 in lion time and Fist penis turned into Congo Military and mommy wanted to kill his Congo monsters and she slipped her cocaine lips on FIST Machine gun dick and Fist mommy took his Congo black volcano down her throat and FIST came an entire lion pride down mommies throat and Fist mommy was surprise cuz she wasnt prepared for FIST cum on the balling Afrika cum fountain,… family got up and ate Victoria falls perch and so this things….

  9. The Bankers launder 100’s of billions of drug cartel cash and don’t even get a slap on the wrist!
    The judge should be disbarred then deported.

    1. Man do you understand world econ?

      TOP wealth. WILL. NEvER. BE. AFFECTED. BY.Laws.

      Super rich is the only planets disconnected strange world. They can travel the entire planet. NO ONE on gawker gets this. Rich people can go anywhere. They can FUCKING middle finger your bullshit and build rockets to past earth.

      Never patronize the rich but never fuck them off…. Democrats on Ars Technica and Salon can’t seem to figure this shit out. Reason gets it.

      1. THis America NEEDS the rich and the RICH need America…

  10. So I have this body and these flesh knuckles knick and wang man
    so let us imagine for once. I want my trap to go aggressive and mean and evil
    and I want to punch your heart and kill you and rip your brains out and put
    the broken skull spice of your dead body on my eggs.

    I like human brains on my skull eggs.
    Man If i was bout to fight you I would want to bite your neck
    and eat your spine and balls. i want to eat your balls, you fucking
    crispy loser fuck… I will eat your knees and toes and bellybutton..

    I would do this if I had to fight you in a Reason Cage… I would punch all of you
    in the fucking face and then fucking eat your fucking skin.

    I would kill you in a reason mma cage… i would win moz def, I will eat every FUCKING
    Reason poster like a fucking beer or bottle of vodka… I would eat you and punch you so hard
    you fuckin swing waka winga slinga wonak

  11. I dont really want to FUCKING beat the FUCK out my babies on Reason but,
    I will fight the goddamn samurais..

  12. Uncharged conduct and facts that weren’t presented at in the underlying criminal liability proceedings are always considered in sentencing hearings. The court just needs to determine if it’s sufficiently “reliable”. Just because it was uncharged isn’t a good enough reason on appeal.

    He or his lawyer are stupid as fuck. He stuck to an absolutely idiotic defense plan — “hey, I didn’t run the site even though you arrested me with my hands in the site’s admin panel” — which absolutely no one believes. The fact that the bitcoin community is rallying around this idiot who continues to not take ownership of the site is shocking.

    Yes, the malfeasance of government agents who investigated him is staggering. That does not detract from this guy’s stupidity, though.

    1. The guy was stupid about hiding his tracks and in his defense, so I’m supposed to be ok with him being locked in a cage for the rest of the life…all paid for with our tax money?

      I don’t understand the point. How intelligent he was in hiding his behavior is beside the point.

    2. I agree wrt to his defense strategy. He shouldn’t have denied that he had anything to do with administrating the site, he should’ve openly acknowledged that he ran the site but argued that he did not do so to facilitate illegal behavior, the liability of which should lie solely with users engaged in same. Something like saying that the owners of a private park aren’t responsible for behaviors that occur in the park, type of thing.

      There are plenty of aggregator or meta-search type sites where I can shop for a 30-round magazine, which, in MD, is illegal for me to purchase. Just because I find sites where I can order one doesn’t mean that the search site is culpable if I do. Any more than Toyota is when I drive my happy ass up to PA and buy it at Cabela’s. 🙂

  13. yea so this fingers are from fucking frap chang wing wang sling slang punchpinch
    bullshit fucking whicka whacka FUCK this FUCKING trip on the goddam threads
    man.. FUCKIN FUCK this fuck trope..

    dude, I cannot fucking fight reason ningaco or subninjako ro clickreals or rowbows ya waht the FUCK is a rowbow but yea man THIS bitch wants to FUCKIN roll scrap thread you fUCKING tiny pragraphe sentages and click swirls and lightclasms and why are my FUCKING earheads scramming like a snood dog and bitch nigger? What the fuck?

  14. The people who died of overdoses CHOSE to risk their lives by ingesting (or injecting) an un-guaranteed product. They are responsible for their own deaths.

  15. Google pay 97$ per hour my last pay check was $8500 working 1o hours a week online. My younger brother friend has been averaging 12k for months now and he works about 22 hours a week. I cant believe how easy it was once I tried it out.

    This is wha- I do…… ?????? http://www.www.netjob80.com

  16. My best friend’s mother-in-law makes $85 hour on the internet . She has been out of work for 5 months but last month her pay was $16453 just working on the internet for a few hours.
    Visit this website ????? http://www.workweb40.com

  17. His crime was not using dollars. The other stuff was just a way to punish him for it.

  18. Google pay 97$ per hour my last pay check was $8500 working 1o hours a week online. My younger brother friend has been averaging 12k for months now and he works about 22 hours a week. I cant believe how easy it was once I tried it out.
    This is wha- I do…… ?????? http://www.www.netjob80.com

  19. That judge is a cunt & should be shot

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.