The Appeal

On January 12, 2016, Ross and his legal team filed an appeal [PDF] with the Second Circuit Court. 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.[1] The right to a fair trial is protected by the Sixth Amendment. The defense argues that Ross was denied this right.

Six amici from across the political spectrum filed three amicus briefs in support of Ross’s appeal:

  • Drug Policy Alliance (DPA)
  • Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)
  • Former Federal Judge Nancy Gertner
  • JustLeadershipUSA (JLUSA)
  • Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP)
  • National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL)

On May 31, 2017, the Court of Appeals denied the appeal.

On July 31, 2017, Paul Grant, Ross’s post-trial lawyer, petitioned [PDF] the Second Circuit to re-hear the appeal based on three arguments:

  • The presiding judge violated the First Amendment by basing her sentence, in part, on what she perceived was Ross’s philosophical and political beliefs.
  • The warrantless pen-traps used to locate Ross’s home and collect all his internet traffic information were unconstitutional.
  • The warrants used to search and seize Ross’s laptop were general warrants lacking particularity, and therefore unconstitutional.

On August 30, 2017, the Second Circuit denied the petition in its entirety.

Highlights from the Appeal

All these issues added up to an unfair trial and to the violation of Ross’s rights.

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.
– Joshua Dratel arguing for a new trial.[2]

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.”
– Joshua Dratel arguing for a new trial.[3]