Silk Road

Ross Ulbricht Loses His Appeal Over Conviction and Sentencing in Silk Road Case [UPDATED]

2nd Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Lynch says very fact that Ulbricht's defense dared question the drug war helped justify wildly harsh life sentence without parole


In bad news this morning, the Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit upheld the conviction and sentencing of Ross Ulbricht for life without parole based on crimes associated with launching and operating the Silk Road website, a site where people could buy and sell items anonymously, including illegal drugs.

Past reporting on the arguments made in his appeal here, here, and here.

Ulbricht's lawyers had a multi-level set of concerns about the conviction and sentencing, as can be seen in the links above.

Here's how Judge Gerard E. Lynch dealt with them in 3-judge panel decision that came out from the 2nd Circuit today, with quotations and commentary:

Two aspects of the pre-arrest investigation into Ulbricht are particularly relevant to this appeal: (1) the pen/trap orders that the government obtained to monitor Internet Protocol ("IP") address traffic to and from various devices associated with Ulbricht; and (2) the corrupt behavior of two Baltimore agents who worked on the Silk Road investigation.

Regarding the pen/trap orders:

after Ulbricht became a primary suspect in the DPR investigation, the government obtained five "pen/trap" orders….The orders authorized law enforcement agents to collect IP address data for Internet traffic to and from Ulbricht's home wireless router and other devices that regularly connected to Ulbricht's home router

Ulbricht's lead lawyer Joshua Dratel argued on appeal that Ulbricht "has a constitutional privacy interest in IP address traffic to and from his home and that the government obtained the pen/trap orders without a warrant, which would have required probable cause."

Judge Lynch disagreed. Lynch wrote that:

the government specified that it did not seek to obtain the contents of any communications. Instead, it sought authorization to collect only "dialing, routing, addressing, and signaling information" that was akin to data captured by "traditional telephonic pen registers and trap and trace devices."

Lynch interprets Fourth Amendment protections as useless unless a citizen had a reasonable expectation of privacy in the information the government obtains. Lynch falls back on the old "third party" principle, that any information a citizen knowingly and willingly gave up to anyone—like a telecom provider—has no Fourth Amendment protections, as per 1979's Smith v. Maryland decision. (The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has written eloquently about why the Smith decision should not rule the computer age.)

Ulbricht tried to argue, along the lines in that EFF link, that the computer age requires rethinking that third party principle, since we are giving up so much information about our whereabouts and associates that we are not consciously considering.

Lynch however says "We remain bound, however, by that rule until and unless it is overruled by the Supreme Court." Furthermore, he doesn't consider the specifics of Ulbricht's case to involve novel issues:

the orders here fit comfortably within the language of a statute drafted with the earlier technology in mind. The substitution of electronic methods of communication for telephone calls does not alone create a reasonable expectation of privacy in the identities of devices with whom one communicates….

the government did not access the contents of any of Ulbricht's communications, [therefore] it did not need to obtain a warrant to collect IP address routing information in which Ulbricht did not have a legitimate privacy interest. We therefore reject Ulbricht's contention that the issuance of such orders violated his Fourth Amendment rights.

The Particularity of the Search Warrant for Ulbricht's Computer

Ulbricht's defense argued that the search of all the contents of the laptop the FBI stole from him when arresting him was unconstitutionally overbroad, amounting to a prohibited "general warrant" and not a specifically targeted legitimate search.

Lynch disagreed with that as well.

a search warrant does not necessarily lack particularity simply because it is broad. Since a search of a computer is "akin to [a search of] a residence," id., searches of computers may sometimes need to be as broad as searches of residences pursuant to warrants. Similarly, traditional searches for paper records, like searches for electronic records, have always entailed the exposure of records that are not the objects of the search to at least superficial examination in order to identify and seize those records that are. And in many cases, the volume of records properly subject to seizure because of their evidentiary value may be vast. None of these consequences necessarily turns a search warrant into a prohibited general warrant…

the Laptop Warrant lists the charged crimes, describes the place to be searched, and designates the information to be seized in connection with the specified offenses. Each category of information sought is relevant to Silk Road, DPR's operation thereof, or identifying Ulbricht as DPR.

The same logic, Lynch believes, makes the government's search of Ulbricht's entire Facebook and Google accounts legal under the warrant.

The Corrupt Investigation

Ulbricht's legal team further argued that the fact the government withheld information regarding corruption investigations into two agents who were part of the investigation against him, Secret Service Agent Shaun Bridges and Drug Enforcement Administration Agent Carl Force, "deprived him of a fair trial….Ulbricht did not learn of Bridges's corrupt conduct until after trial when the criminal complaint against both agents was unsealed. Thus, in his motion for a new trial, he argued that the belated disclosure violated his due process rights under Brady v. Maryland."

Lynch also didn't believe that was enough to reconsider the conviction, because:

courts must also take care that wrongdoing by investigators that has no bearing on the matter before the court not be used as a diversion from fairly assessing the prosecution's case. Like any other potential evidence, information about police corruption must be evaluated by reference to the ordinary rules of criminal procedure and evidence….

Under those standards, Lynch considers the venality and corruption of the investigators and how knowledge of it was delayed or suppressed by the prosecution irrelevant, even though "Ulbricht argued that the agents' corruption was critical to his defense because it would reveal the agents' ability to falsify evidence against him and demonstrate their motive to do so."

Still, Lynch concluded the need for secrecy in the grand jury investigation of Carl Force, which the defense did learn about shortly before the trial, overwhelmed any benefits Ulbricht's defense could have reasonably expected from having it revealed. (Force, it is worth noting, was already aware he was under investigation.)

Lynch thinks "That Force was personally corrupt and used his undercover identity to steal money from Silk Road and DPR does not suggest either a motive or an ability on his part to frame Ulbricht as DPR" and that since Force's own investigation of Ulbricht was not part of the facts used in court, according to the state, that his corruption was irrelevant to the specifics of how Ulbricht was prosecuted and found guilty:

Ulbricht has not shown that, had the government produced every piece of requested information [regarding Force], he would have been able to alter the quantum of proof in his favor at trial. That is so because there is no indication, beyond Ulbricht's speculation, that Force manufactured any of the evidence on which the government relied at trial, let alone the most damning evidence discovered on the hard drive on Ulbricht's laptop and at his apartment….

Ulbricht does not identify any particular evidence introduced by the government at trial that is traceable to either Force or Bridges, or the admissibility of which depends on either agent's integrity….Absent further detail or evidence that Force and Bridges were able to infiltrate DPR's communications or transactions, Ulbricht's argument is simply too speculative to warrant a new trial.

Ulbricht's appeal argued that having a couple of his expert witnesses denied access to the stand harmed his fair trial; Lynch disagrees, concluding that the necessary disclosures about expert witnesses before they hit the stand "merely listed general and in some cases extremely broad topics on which the experts might opine….They did not summarize the experts' opinions about those topics, let alone describe the bases for the experts' opinions."

Thus, original trial judge, Katherine Forrest, was justified in keeping them from the stand, Lynch concluded. "Ulbricht did not comply with the procedural requirements associated with expert disclosures. The district court gave the issue due consideration and appropriately exercised its discretion in remedying the defense's Rule 16 violation."

Similarly, Lynch considered restrictions on Dratel's ability to cross examine two government witnesses legitimate and not affecting the fairness of Ulbricht's trial. Lynch also thought that the refusal to admit some testimony by a former Silk Road employee that the government originally intended to, but ultimately did not, put on the stand, testimony that could have created doubt that there was always one and only one "Dread Pirate Roberts" operating the site (a pseudonym the Silk Road's operator adopted in 2012), did not unduly harm Ulbricht's fair trial. The government was correct to brand the statements as inadmissible hearsay.

Finally, Ulbricht's defense wanted to argue that the cumulative effect of all the problems it found with the original trial resulted in a denial of a fair trial. No go, says Lynch: "The challenged trial rulings were well within the district court's discretion, and the various exclusions did not prevent the defense from offering evidence probative of innocence."

The Insanely Harsh Sentence Justifed by Thought Crime

Regarding the sentence of life without parole for crimes that amounted to operating a web site that other people used to sell drugs, which the appeal considered unjust and unreasonable, Lynch was again not persuaded.

In his sentencing, Lynch believed that it was legitimate to include questionable government assertions that drugs sold on the Silk Road killed six people. Lynch agreed with the original District Court decision that a standard of "reasonable degree of medical certainty" was "simply too high an evidentiary standard for purposes of including the deaths" in the sentencing, and mere "circumstantial" evidence of those unadjudicated crimes was sufficient and fair, Lynch says. (Whether bending over backward to give the government reason to lock Ulbricht up for life seems fair and reasonable is, alas, a legal responsibility of this judge, but a fair outside analyst might disagree.)

"No federal judge needs to be reminded of the tragic consequences of the traffic in dangerous substances on the lives of users and addicts, or of the risks of overdose and other ramifications of the most dangerous of illegal drugs," Lynch wrote, implying that Judge Forrest could just presume that Silk Road's existence had lots of horrible collateral damage for which Ulbricht should be rightly punished.

Lynch also believes it fair that the government merely assert and make no attempt to prove in court that Ulbricht allegedly thought he'd paid for murders of people robbing or threatening the identities of people on the Silk Road and let those allegations weigh into the sentencing.

One wonders why trials are even necessary if the government can just sentence you based on claims you committed crimes more serious and horrible than the ones it goes through standard trial procedures to prove. Lynch points out—and consider how crazy this is—since those unadjudicated murders, if proven, would not have increased the size of the sentence it was statutorily legal to give Ulbricht, it didn't matter that they weren't proven anyway. The drug sale facilitation stuff alone could have gotten him life without parole (and did, technically).

Lynch does not think it important for Forrest to have balanced out the obvious betterment of so many buyers and users lives by being able to buy community-rated drugs from dealers they never had to leave their house to meet, how much more safety that provided in both the use and purchase of the drugs. Ulbricht's defense tried to make those "harm reduction" concerns part of Forrest's thought processes in judging how much punishment Ulbricht deserved.

Here is the dreadful way Lynch's decision deals with that consideration:

It is very possible that, at some future point, we will come to regard these policies [the drug war] as tragic mistakes and adopt less punitive and more effective methods of reducing the incidence and costs of drug use. At this point in our history, however, the democratically-elected representatives of the people have opted for a policy of prohibition, backed by severe punishment…

And pay careful attention to this:

In this case, a reminder of the consequences of facilitating such transactions was perhaps more necessary, particularly because Ulbricht claimed that his site actually made the drug trade safer, and he appeared to contest the legitimacy of the laws he violated.

In other words, the fact that Ulbricht and his defense team dared to state out loud the obvious facts of the harm reduction benefits of Silk Road and dared suggest the laws against drug sales in this manner might not be legitimate justified the insanely harsh sentence of life without parole.

Horrendous and frightening, that daring to have beliefs contra to the state's justifies harsher sentencing. But Lynch stands by that tyrannical thought.

There is more to the appeals arguments and to the 139-page decision, but that is a summation of some of the major points at issue.

Dratel, Ulbricht's lawyer, refused to comment this morning on the decision or the case's future, if any. Ulbricht's mother Lyn Ulbricht, who has been a consistent public voice for her son's case, says in a blog post this morning at that:

The Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 says A judge should impose a sentence that is"sufficient, but not greater than necessary." How is a double life sentence plus 40 years by any stretch necessary? Even if everything Ross has been accused of is true, which we steadfastly do not believe, a life sentence is draconian and unnecessary.

We will not stop fighting.

What specific form that further fight for Ulbricht's liberty will take is unknown at posting time. But Lyn Ulbricht said in an email this morning, "I expect that Ross will appeal the ruling. I don't see this decision as the end."

NEXT: Hillary Clinton Says She Takes Responsibility for Her 2016 Decisions, But Blames Russia, Far Right for Loss; Philippines President Blasts Chelsea Clinton; Florence Mayor Hosing Down Church Steps to Keep Lunching Tourists Away: P.M. Links

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    1. A clear political atrocity. Makes me want to fire bomb a building on Berkley’s campus.

      1. You just made Preet all itchy.

        1. Preet’s out on his ass. Fuck Preet.

          1. *teenage girl* ewww

            1. I’m making over $7k a month working part time. I kept hearing other people tell me how much money they can make online so I decided to look into it. Well, it was all true and has totally changed my life.

              This is what I do…

          2. That’s why he is itchy.

      2. “Political Atrocity” is the perfect description. What the American justice system is doing to Ross Ulbricht feels like what the North Korean justice system did to Otto Warmbier. Lock the door and throw away the key. It’s a virtual death sentence. Scary.

  1. How was life without parole even a possible sentence in this case? Can judges sentence you to whatever they want? Steal a car? Life without parole. Run a website? Life without parole.

    1. I believe because he was essentially convicted as a “drug trafficker”.

      1. Even that is a stretch. Should ebay be used for selling illegal drugs, I hardly suspect that they’ll be hauling Devin Wenig in to court to face life without parole.

        I get that “a few people selling drugs” and “the entire point of the website is for illegal transactions” are not the same thing. Still, merely being an advertising platform is not the same thing as being Pablo Escobar.

    2. He embarassed the government by successfully operating a market free from government intervention. He’s lucky he wasn’t taken to the gallows immediately after trial.

      1. This is the 21st Century, the last President used drone strikes to kill American citizens without even a trial.

    3. It’s there is no parole in the federal system and the sentence was so harsh, in part, because of the King Pin charge.

  2. Oh boy.

  3. Quite a shame.

    I’ll refrain from going off on that cunt.

    The justice system is a system without justice. Meanwhile, derelicts like Hilary roam free.

    What a joke.

    1. And you can be sure that even if Hillary was indicted, tried and convicted. A federal judge would go as lenient on her with a sentence as within his power.

      The only real solution is to repeal all drug laws and just hope these a-hole old guy bureaucrats just die off. These drug warriors are just the worst.

    2. It’s not a justice system; it’s a legal system.

      Whenever the legal system achieves a just result, it’s a mere coincidence.

      1. Yep, more of a bug than a feature.

  4. So, the main part of the government’s case is agents Force and Bridges ran snitches to prove that Ulbricht was DPR and completely in charge of Silk Road.

    Agents Force and Bridges were stealing money and later pled guilty to federal crimes.

    But there is zero reasonable doubt that Ulbricht was the sole mastermind running Silk Road?

    At sentencing, the judge used accusations of murder for hire schemes to give Ulbricht life in prison but Ulbricht has never been convicted of any crimes involving murder.

    But that sentencing is not excessive?

    Our government is so corrupt that these old guy bureaucrats just think they need to destroy any opposition to the war on drugs. It is a WAR after all.

    1. Hence why ‘there’s a special place in hell reserved for her’.

      1. I can’t imagine who would say a thing like that.

        1. You will always have a special place in my heart, Rhywun.

      2. Wood chips are great for smoking with. I need a machine that could make some in industrial quantities.

        1. I tried smoking wood chips once, and let me tell you, your arms get pretty tired.

          1. And they don’t get you high at all

    2. At sentencing, the judge used accusations of murder for hire schemes to give Ulbricht life in prison but Ulbricht has never been convicted of any crimes involving murder.

      The Appellate judges also cited the uncharged attempted murders in their decision to affirm his conviction and sentencing.

      In light of the overwhelming evidence, discussed below, that
      Ulbricht was prepared, like other drug kingpins, to protect his profits by paying
      large sums of money to have individuals who threatened his enterprise
      murdered, it would be plainly wrong to conclude that he was sentenced for
      accidental deaths that the district court discussed only in passing in imposing
      sentence. Even were we to conclude that the evidence of the Silk Road-related
      deaths should not have been received, any error would be harmless, because the
      record is absolutely clear that the district court, after finding that Ulbricht
      commissioned five murders, would have imposed the same sentence if the
      evidence of the drug-related deaths had been excluded.

      1. How the fuck is that valid reasoning?

        “Mr lachowsky, you are hereby sentenced to 40 to life for possession of an ounce of Marijuana. The penalty seems harsh, but I have it on good authority that you also planned to club baby seals and distribute child porn. We aren’t charging you with these crimes because we don’t know if we could make the charges stick or not, so we are just going to sentence you for them on this drug charge.”

        1. that is the logic.

        2. I complete runaround of due process. Unfucking real but obviously just another day in the madhouse.

        3. Isn’t this why OJ received such a harsh sentence for the collectables thing?
          “You got away with murder, so we’re harshly sentencing you for your theft conviction”?
          Also, Al Capone and tax evasion?

          1. Well, there was also kidnapping, armed robbery and use of a gun in the commission of a crime.

  5. So the system has failed this man twice, by design, and they wonder why no one has any respect for the american justice system of kangaroo courts.
    Preet still should feed himself feet first into a woodchipper if he has any sense of honor or dignity left in his treasonous soul

    1. Same for the judge if you ask me.

      Justice my ass.

    2. no one has any respect for the american justice system of kangaroo courts

      Do you really think that this is the case, at all, anywhere, outside of nerdy chat rooms? As far as the average American voter is concerned, Ulbricht is a drug-dealing hitman who got what he deserved. He doesn’t even fit into any victim categories that might cause some Americans to give a shit.

      1. Are you suggesting the media did its job or gave a shit?


  6. If Don Martin was still alive, he’d draw of a cartoon of a federal prosecutor being fed into a woodchipper with PREEEET! as the sound effect.

    1. You just won the internet for today.

    2. Beautiful.

  7. “Courts must also take care that wrongdoing by investigators that has no bearing on the matter before the court not be used as a diversion from fairly assessing the prosecution’s case. Like any other potential evidence, information about police corruption must be evaluated by reference to the ordinary rules of criminal procedure and evidence….”

    My understanding is that the federal agents in question tried to blackmail Ulbricht–which is directly material to the case.

    They told him that if he didn’t give them money, they would set him up, then the question isn’t whether the judge should have heard that evidence; the question is whether the jury should have heard that evidence.

    The whole purpose of a jury is weigh the credibility of testimony and evidence. If federal agents working Ulbricht’s case were blackmailing him with a threat of setting him up, then that speaks directly to both the credibility of testimony and the credibility of evidence.

    That is not for a judge to decide. That is for a jury to decide.

    Regardless of whether Ulbricht actually did the things he’s accused of, he did not get a fair trial. He deserves another one.

    I suspect the judge knows that if Ulbricht got a fair trial and the corruption of the agents were known to the jury, it’s unlikely that a unanimous jury would convict him–beyond a reasonable doubt.

    1. If it ever went to a jury, I’d rent a blimp to drop thousands of letters about nullification.

      1. With a warning to play dumb and not mention they know about until deliberations. Prosecutor and Judges will stamp out any Juror that mentions Nullification

  8. Lynch falls back on the old “third party” principle, that any information a citizen knowingly and willingly gave up to anyone?like a telecom provider?has no Fourth Amendment protections

    Serious question: Do you so “knowingly and willingly give up information” every time you mail a letter?

    1. Actually, according to this doctrine, you do knowingly and willingly give up information when you mail a physical letter. You give up your return address and the addressee’s name and address, because that information is on the outside of the letter. Not excusing, merely clarifying.

      1. How about the info on the *inside*? You’re allowing third parties physical possession of the envelope.

        1. Technically speaking, if an envelope is dismantled it’s clearly a 2d object with no definitive inside or outside, so I mean, it’s your fault for just flinging your letters out your door unprotected.

        2. But it’s sealed. And in the case of US mail, there are extra legal protections beyond what the constitution requires.
          It’s pretty analogous to the telephone thing. They can get info on who you called and when without a warrant (which is BS in my view), but need one to actually listen in.

  9. he appeared to contest the legitimacy of the laws he violated.

    That actually makes sense to the extent you would expect him to violate the law upon release. Someone who says, “fck you, I’d do it again” is necessarily going to get a harsher sentence than someone who says it was a mistake and they promise to reform.

  10. Question: Why was he doing this in the US and not from a server in Grand Cayman? I suppose he didn’t expect it to get that big?

    1. There are some *dons tin foil* theories that he was not the only Dread Pirate. It may have been in his name, but who knows.

  11. Yep. This reminds me of the Christian National Socialist judge trying Sophie Scholl for the guillotine in that German movie Americans don’t seem to see. As for the Lynching judge, two can play. HL Mencken offered a way to vacate the bench of such totalitarian cretins back during an earlier phase of prohibitionism. The best part is that it’s a formula the fanatical bigots of the Inquisition themselves invented! Here’s the Sophie trial scene:

  12. Great article about an awful appeals court decision. Seems like the libertarian moment has come and gone.

    Is it still legal to quote Claire Wolfe without attracting the attention of federal prosecutors, judges, and other wannabe fascists? She’s the libertarian polemicist who wrote, “America is at that awkward stage. It’s too late to work within the system, but too early to shoot the bastards.”

    Let me be clear, I’m just asking whether freedom of speech still allows such a quotation, and not making any statement or implication as to whether such a quotation is relevant to the case at hand. I certainly don’t advocate shooting, decapitating, or woodchipping the bastards. I know that only progressive lunatics, phony anarchists, and communists are allowed to advocate and to incite violence. I’m a libertarian, so I eschew and denounce the initiation of violence of every sort. Oh, in case there’s any confusion, the “chipper” in my log-in name means “cheerful and lively”.

    1. Let me be clear, I’m just asking whether freedom of speech still allows such a quotation

      Yes, there’s no specific threat against specific people. I don’t know what the larger context of her quote is… or let me be clear, I infer that “the bastards” refers to those government (or perhaps rich corporate wreckers and kulaks) officials in power.

      For instance, if I say, “Women, can’t live with ’em, can’t kill ’em” certainly wouldn’t get me thrown in jail.

    2. Wood chippers are a great way to great rid of the old dead wood lying around. As well as pruning back overgrowth and invasive species.

  13. after Ulbricht became a primary suspect in the DPR investigation, the government obtained five “pen/trap” orders….The orders authorized law enforcement agents to collect IP address data for Internet traffic to and from Ulbricht’s home wireless router and other devices that regularly connected to Ulbricht’s home router

    Forgive me if this has been discussed, but the pen/trap order suggests they had identified Ulbricht as the suspect or source, despite his supposed use of Tor. I still suspect they made the initial identification using techniques such as end-to-end correlation, or they muscled the foreign government into giving them access to the server or both.

    There is this.

    After the initial revelation of the Silk Road server’s location in a data center in Reykjavik, Iceland, the filing explains that Reykjavik police accessed and secretly copied the server’s data. As agents of a foreign government, the prosecution argues, they weren’t required to seek a warrant from any US authority.

    1. It is the most vile way to take a mans life.

  14. (The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has written eloquently about why the Smith decision should not rule the computer age.)

    How do we get 4chan or some group to publish the history of the judges computers?

    I am similarly convinced that as time moves on, we will see even less of a wildcard candidate for office here. When the DEEP STATE (or whatever) have the entire internet history for some candidate they dislike, wouldn’t it be so simple to ruin a career?

    “And when he was 13, he called a bunch of people fags on world of warcraft! wait till we get to his porn searches.”

  15. The state is a jealous god…
    (BTW, I see Mozilla is now offering propaganda on the home page about how we absolutely must have net neutrality)

    1. Really? Mozilla? Really?
      *Sighs, takes several drinks* Whar my open net go?

      1. According to the Mozilla Foundation:[43]
        “The Mozilla Foundation pledges to support the Mozilla Manifesto in its activities. Specifically, we will:

        Build and enable open-source technologies and communities that support the Manifesto’s principles;
        Build and deliver great consumer products that support the Manifesto’s principles;
        Use the Mozilla assets (intellectual property such as copyrights and trademarks, infrastructure, funds, and reputation) to keep the Internet an open platform;
        Promote models for creating economic value for the public benefit; and
        Promote the Mozilla Manifesto principles in public discourse and within the Internet industry.”

        I assume “open platform” means gov’t regulated to the nerds at Mozilla.
        I also get pleas for donations and respond by telling them to sell ads; don’t want to hear about your ‘purity’.

  16. OT: I just thought this was funny.

    1. It is.

    2. Nope.
      Every lefty in the world has godwined Trump since day one; tiresome.

    3. Jeebus, it’s like literally, literally, the only thing on imgur right now. Like for reals.

  17. I guess we can add Lynch to the already crowded penalty box of dickheads in this case of government tyranny.

    Screw you Lynch and your sloppy intellectual legal garble bull shit.

  18. Ok, Switzerland is upping their game and might have taken the lead.

    They fined a man $4k for “liking” a defamatory post on Facebook.

  19. I just donated $75 to his legal defense fund.

  20. We will remember Ross. He is a a true martyr of our generation. He bravely used his intellect and insight to strive against the weight of the grotesque dogmas that have beset our society: the drug war, the culture of fear and powerlessness, the misconception that we as “free” citizens have no authority, responsibility, or autonomy to change the world around us.

    Much ado has been made of his alleged crimes, from his architecture of the Silk Road, to his attempts to kill his would be blackmailers, who turned out to be corrupt agents of the very government that he was defying. By threatening to release the information of the entire Silk Road user base, they were endangering the lives of every person who had used the site, for the purposes of extortion and personal gain. Amid the complexity and ambiguity of the whole affair, it is not hard to see why Ross reacted the way he did.

    He is human and flawed, but he dreamed of way to break the chains that have encumbered us all. Despite the risk to his own life and liberty, he acted. In spite of the consequences, he acted, trusting in his own belief in the truth and determined to make a positive impact on our society. Like every Prometheus before him, he carried a torch to share with his fellow man and light a way for the future. He is a true revolutionary figure.

    Ross, you are not forgotten.

    1. And like Prometheus he is chained to a rock while a bald eagle eats his liver daily and over many life sentences.

  21. Thank god they got him. Finally no one will be able to get drugs in America.

    This has been as successful as the war on terror.

    What part is the update?

  23. Was it only a few days ago that the court made up some new standard to uphold the block on Trump’s travel ban? Trump said some mean things at campaign rallies, and that was proof enough the EO was discriminatory.

    But here, the judge apparently sticks faithfully to the letters of the law.

    It’s insane that someone who didn’t actually kill someone is locked up for life for good. I don’t even think someone line Madoff should be given a life sentence.

  24. This is so sad. Life with no chance of parole? Are we North Korea now? One young American, Otto Warmbier, with no criminal record, a victim of their justice system, is returned to the United States to die from mistreatment. Ross Ulbricht, another young American, with no prior criminal record, was singled out for cruel and unusual punishment by the United States justice system, in order to deter others from engaging in similar web activities. Ulbricht’s case involved of two now-convicted, corrupt federal agents, DEA and Secret Service Their actions should be enough to raise reasonable doubt, but it appears the jury was not privy to that aspect of the case, deliberating only three hours. The Lynching judge was out to destroy and silence Ulbricht, who is currently housed in a NYC prison dubbed “The Guantanamo of Manhattan,” a cramped facility with few resources, designed to hold prisoners awaiting trial. It is not a place to serve a life sentence. But it’s perfect for increasing the punishment and torture Ulbricht.

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