The Case

The Most Important Trial in America: If you care about due process, Fourth Amendment protections against illegal searches, the limits of government surveillance, and Internet freedom, you should pay attention. – Nick Gillespie, editor-in- chief,

I. Case overview

A brief summary of Ross’ case with links to key documents and the charges.

II. Pre-Trial

June 5, 2011
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee and the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, calls for “crackdown” on Silk Road and use of Bitcoin.

September 27, 2013
Criminal complaint and arrest warrant filed in Southern District of New York.

October 1, 2013
Ross arrested in San Francisco.

District of Maryland issues indictment, including attempted murder charges based on evidence of corrupt DEA agent Force (now in prison).

Senator Check Schumer
Oct. 1 – Nov. 5, 2013
Ross in Solitary confinement in California and New York.

Nov. 5, 2013
Ross arrives in Southern District of New York from California to face charges. Prosecution led by Preet Bharara, longtime special counsel to Sen. Chuck Schumer.

Nov. 21, 2013
Ross denied bail.

Illustration: Cointelegraph
Sept. 5, 2014
FBI agent Christopher Tarbell testifies under oath [PDF] how he found the Silk Road server, to worldwide skepticism. Defense  challenges [PDF] and calls for an evidentiary hearing, which is denied by the judge.

Oct. 27, 2014
Schumer publicly congratulates the Department Of Justice for arresting the Silk Road operator before the trial.

Oct 10, 2014
Judge Forrest dismisses Ross’ motions to suppress evidence [PDF].

Oct – Dec, 2014
Court-ordered access to laptop, discovery evidence is repeatedly blocked.

Dec. 12, 2014
Defense is deprived of the witness list.

Dec. 2014
Judge Forrest precludes evidence of corrupt agent activity from trial.

Jan. 6, 2015
7,500 pages of 3500 evidence dumped on the defense one week prior to trial.

Jan. 2015
Ross moved to Metropolitan Correctional Center, Manhattan, New York.

Judge Katherine Forrest. Illustration: Reuters

III. Trial

Jan. 13, 2015 – Feb. 4, 2015.
Ross goes to trial, presided over by Judge Katherine Forrest (recommended for the bench by Sen. Chuck Schumer in 2011).

Major issues at trial:

  • Blocked cross examination
    • DHS agent testimony points to alternate perpetrator
    • Questioning disallowed, testimony stricken from trial record, defense “eviscerated.”
Protesters at Ross’ trial in NYC
Feb. 4, 2015
Ross is convicted of seven counts.

“This ruling is bad news for future entrepreneurs seeking to build online marketplaces. At any moment … the U.S. government could tell a story that the online marketplace is part of a giant conspiracy by helping illegal transactions; and on that theory, seize the business…and threaten the founders with the prospect of years or decades in jail.  – Eric Goldman, Forbes

IV. Post-Trial and Sentencing

March 31, 2015
Corruption of Silk Road investigation revealed.

The complete scope of what former SA’s Force and Bridges were able to accomplish with the illicit access they gained to the Silk Road website, and its impact on this case, has yet to be determined. – Joshua Dratel, lead trial attorney

Carl Mark Force, DEA agent (left) – Shaun Bridges, NSA/Secret Service Agent (right)
May 29, 2015

Ulbricht’s life sentence won’t deter others from giving Americans access to the drugs they want. It won’t “protect” society. It won’t “serve justice” … It will just waste another life. – Henry Blodget, CEO/editor-in- chief, Business Insider

Double life plus 40 years, without the possibility of parole, on five non-violent charges.

Ross’ parents after the sentencing
Tweet by Curtis Green, alleged victim of murder-for-hire
June 9, 2015
Government issues a grand jury subpoena/gag order to to turn over identities of people who commented on Ross’ sentence.

V. Appeal

If only 10% of what Lyn said about the trial and the events leading up to the trial are true,there should be a reversal. As a former prosecutor, I am appalled at what the federal government has done to Ross. – Former prosecutor, after seeing Porcfest speech

Jan. 14, 2016
Appeal [PDF] submitted to Second Circuit.

March 15, 2016
Appeal brief joined by six amici:

Main points:

August 1, 2016
Defense replies [PDF] to government.

Oct. 6, 2016
Oral arguments.

Nov. 29, 2016
Tampering of evidence announced.

That my son — or anyone — would receive a life sentence based on such vulnerable evidence, especially when there is proof of corruption and tampering, is a travesty of justice. – Lyn Ulbricht

December 1, 2016
Dread Pirate Roberts log-in discovered after Ross arrested.

May 29, 2017
Appeal denied.

July 14, 2017
Ross moved to USP Florence, CO, a maximum security penitentiary.

July 31, 2017
Petition [PDF] to Second Circuit to re-hear appeal filed.

  • First Amendment violations at sentencing
  • Unconstitutional warrants
  • Warrantless surveillance

Aug. 29, 2017
Petition to re-hear denied by Second Circuit.

VI. Supreme Court petition

Overview with links and higlights from the petition and amicus briefs.
December 22, 2017
Petition for writ of certiorari [PDF] filed asking Supreme Court to review the decision of the lower courts.

Feb 5, 2018
Petition for writ joined by the following amici (21 organizations):