More on Sentencing

Rejected by judge

The appeal [PDF] points out that the judge ignored the 100 letters [PDF] submitted to the court, attesting to Ulbricht’s character and speak of the positive contributions he has made, and could make in the future if given a reasonable sentence.

In addition to her rejecting the forensic pathologist report [PDF], Judge Forrest also ignored the empirical, academic and practical research presented in Ross’ sentencing submission, which cites Silk Road and its harm reduction effects on the drug culture. Instead she defaulted to the outdated and failed claim that more incarceration is the solution, even though courts, politicians and policy-makers now reject this. Her theory of Ross’ sentence deterring future sites has been disproven by the fact that it was followed by a proliferation of these sites.

Judge Katherine Forrest. Illustration: Reuters

Not accused of drug dealing

The appeal also points out that Ross is not accused of selling drugs:

“Even assuming his guilt (for purposes of sentencing) he created an internet platform that enabled others to do so, and thus, the proper analogy would be to a landlord who knowingly leases space and collects rent and utility payments from tenants whom he knows sell drugs from the premises (and even whom he markets to). There is a federal statute punishing that conduct – 21 U.S.C. §856, the “crack house” law – and the maximum sentence is 20 years’ imprisonment.”Appeal [PDF], page 138.

Shocks the conscience

Ross looking at his parents during sentencing. Illustration: Elizabeth Williams

“In this case, it was also unconscionable. 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.”Appeal [PDF], page 139.