On January 12, 2016, Ross and his legal team filed an appeal with the U.S Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York. Unlike a trial court, an appellate court has no witnesses, evidence or jury. It does not rehear the case, but rather focuses on questions of law, and if the trial was conducted correctly.
Ross’s appeal defends Ross’s Due Process rights, and thereby the rights of all Americans. The right to a fair trial is protected by the Sixth Amendment. The defense argues that Ross was denied this right.
Summing it up, the appeal says:
[All the evidence] “was permeated by corruption of two law enforcement agents participating in the investigation, the restrictions on cross-examination, and preclusion of expert witnesses offered to overcome those restrictions, eviscerated Ulbricht’s defense and denied him a fair trial.” – Ross’s appeal, page 6
The appeal also addresses the excessive life sentence:
“The life sentence imposed on 30-year old Ross Ulbricht “shocks the conscience” – or at the very least “stirs it” – and is therefore substantively unreasonable. Accordingly, Ulbricht should be resentenced before a different judge to avoid the irremediable taint from the improper factors the Court considered.” – Ross’s appeal, page 139
On July 31, 2017, Paul Grant, Ross’s post-trial lawyer, petitioned the Court of Appeals to re-hear the appeal based on three arguments:
- Judge Forrest violated Ross’s First Amendment rights by referencing what she perceived was Ross’s political and philosophical beliefs in order to justify her double life sentence.
- The warrants used to search and seize Ross’s laptop were general warrants lacking particularity, and therefore unconstitutional.
- The warrantless pen-traps used to track Ross were unconstitutional.
On August 30, 2017, the petition for re-hearing was denied.