The defense team for Ross Ulbricht recently filed a reply brief in the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, in addition to the original appeal. Both Ulbricht’s family and defense attorney Joshua Dratel believe the Silk Road founder received an unfair trial for multiple reasons.
Ross Ulbricht’s Defense Team Wants All Charges Dropped or a Retrial With Another District Judge
According to Ulbricht’s attorney, Ross’ trial was both unfair and grossly mismanaged. Ulbricht received two back-to-back life sentences without parole from Judge Katherine Forrest. This is compared to the very lax sentences given to rest of the Silk Road associates, and two corrupt agents involved with the investigation.
Dratel’s reply brief asks the court to drop all charges against Ulbricht or revisit the case before another district judge. The brief cites specific examples of how both the prosecution and Judge Forrest mishandled the case.
For instance, crimes committed by two corrupt law enforcement officers, Carl Force and Shaun Bridges, did not surface until after the court finalized proceedings against Ulbricht. Dratel explains that the two special agents used their powers unlawfully during the entire investigation. The brief includes many examples of these abuses, such as commandeering accounts and stealing over a million dollars in bitcoin.
Keys to the Kingdom
Only after Ulbricht’s conviction did the officers plead guilty to charges of extortion, misuse of power, and the theft of large sums of bitcoin. Dratel believes the government’s argument that the corrupt officer’s involvement was a separate issue is incorrect.
Bitcoin.com reached out to Lyn Ulbricht to get her opinion about the government’s reply brief against the appeal. Lyn explains:
“The government insists in its reply brief in the Ross’ appeal that it was proper for the jury to not know that two corrupt federal agents (now in prison) had unfettered access to the Silk Road site, with the ability to do all kinds of mischief, including tamper with material that was later used in evidence.”
Lyn Ulbricht adds, “Essentially the agents had the ‘keys to the kingdom,’. . .They are both computer forensic experts.”
“Also, as the defense reply points out,” she continued, “Shaun Bridges is not only a dark net expert but has ‘a penchant for framing others.’ And he was working for the NSA at the time of the Silk Road investigation.”
The government claims the corruption is “irrelevant” to the trial because these agents operated in Maryland and the trial was in New York. They insist that there was no communication or cooperation between the agencies, despite what high-level DHS official John Eisert told the Baltimore Sun about the coordination of efforts. And despite the fact that New York submitted exhibits based on Carl Force’s evidence and redacted them pre-trial.
A Biased Judge, Unlawful Warrants, and Gross Misconduct Within the Investigation and Trial
Ulbricht’s attorney also explains that Judge Forrest stopped the defense from cross-examining witnesses with significant relevance to the investigation.
The Ulbricht family and the defense team further claim that before the trial even started, law enforcement violated Ross’ Fourth Amendment rights. These violations include unlawful warrants issued by the government, which led to the seizure of evidence and data used against Ulbricht.
Dratel then explains that law enforcement misused the Trap and Trace Orders, as well as the Particularity In Application. Also, the government didn’t abide by the statutory limitations, as Dratel details in the reply brief. Furthermore, the defense contests the sentence given to Ulbricht, which allegedly shows bias against Silk Road’s first-of-its-kind status.
The defense’s latest reply brief reveals that the U.S. Marshals’ Intake Form for Ross’ arrest lists the corrupt Carl Force as the sole law enforcement officer at the arrest. Yet the government denies Force’s connection.
The defense also explains the government relied on allegations that never materialized into formal charges. Additionally, authorities leaned on overdoses of people who used Silk Road to purchase illicit drugs. Judge Katherine Forrest’s decisions showed considerable bias towards the prosecution, and Dratel had called for a mistrial multiple times, according to the brief.
The Defense and Ulbricht Family Are Not Giving Up
The latest reply brief shows that the Ulbricht family and defense team are not giving up without a fight. The evidence that supports the idea that authorities mishandled the case seems quite significant and should cause anyone to question the trial.
Ulbricht’s Mother believes her son is a political prisoner. She argues that the judge sought to make an example of him when handing out his harsh sentence. Lyn believes the court suppressed quite a bit of evidence to keep the defense in the dark. Lyn Ulbricht told Bitcoin.com:
Force’s name on the report was redacted in the evidence given to the defense, so Ross’ lawyers didn’t know he was named until recently. However, the version supplied to Ross was not redacted. He discovered it when he continued, back in prison, to sift through the mountain of material dumped on the defense pre-trial. He only came across Force’s name after the initial appeal brief was filed.— I wonder what other needles in the haystack are buried in that 4 terabytes of material dumped on the defense a week before trial?
It is evident that there were multiple shady acts within the investigation and the trial that followed. Hopefully, this evidence comes to light, and Ulbricht’s charges are dismissed or at least put to a fair trial.
What do you think about the recent reply brief from Ross Ulbricht’s defense team? Let us know in the comments below.
Source: Defense Team’s Reply Brief, and Lyn Ulbricht
Images via Shutterstock, and the Ulbricht Family
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