Evidence and Information Hidden from Jury

The government deprived the jury of essential facts. This was in violation of Ross’s Due Process rights, and of the Brady Rule, an established law that says evidence favorable to a defendant is not allowed to be hidden.

[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.[1]

Government Narrative

To serve its controlled narrative, in addition to using uncharged, unproven murder-for-hire allegations, the government kept out evidence that casts doubt on Ross being the one and only DPR running Silk Road the whole time.

For example, the defense moved to admit a statement made to prosecutors by Andrew Jones, a former Silk Road administrator known as “Inigo.” The statement supported the defense theory that there had been multiple people acting as DPR. The prosecutors fought having even this simple statement presented to the jury, and the judge agreed.[2]

In addition, the jury was not to know about:

  • The many legal and harmless items sold on Silk Road, like gold, books, art, clothing and electronics.[3]
  • Ross’s peaceful, libertarian views.[4]
  • Ross’s loving, supporting family. In the courtroom, Ross was forbidden to smile at his family while the jury was present.[5]
  • Lead FBI investigator Christopher Tarbell’s testimony.[6] Tarbell allegedly located the Silk Road server (his explanation was widely debunked by experts[7][8]), he signed Ross’s criminal complaint, and led the arrest team. Despite all this, he was barely mentioned at trial and the government did not call him to the stand, preventing the defense from cross-examining him about the server and his investigation.
U.S Attorney Serrin Turner
Illustration: Susie Cagle

The corrupt agents

Corruption permeated the trial, yet the judge prohibited its mention to the jury.
The government:

  • Kept hidden all information about the corrupt agents from the defense for nearly nine months, revealing only one agent right before trial.[9]
  • Insisted the corruption stay sealed, arguing that revealing it to the jury would tip off the agents and impede the investigation.[10] Yet, the agents had known for months that they were under investigation and had been interviewed by law enforcement.[11]
  • Prevented the defense from independently investigating the corruption, including subpoenaing DEA Agent Force to testify at trial.
  • Refused to respond to numerous discovery requests from the defense.[12]
  • Did not disclose until after the trial the existence of Shaun Bridges, corrupt NSA agent and computer forensics expert on the Maryland investigation.[13]
  • Refused the defense request to postpone trial until after the corruption investigation so the jury could know all the facts.[14]
  • Repeatedly used the corruption secret as an excuse to preclude valuable defense evidence.
  • Repeatedly stymied defense efforts to introduce favorable evidence during trial.

Read more about The Corruption.

References