Silk Road’s mastermind Ross Ulbricht fails to secure rehearing in appeal case

Maria Nikolova

The Court has provided no details on its decision why Ross Ulbricht’s petition for rehearing has been denied.

Ross William Ulbricht, also known as Dread Pirate Roberts, the mastermind of Silk Road, the notorious marketplace that used Bitcoins for its transactions, has had his attempt to secure a rehearing in his appeal case nixed by the Court.

Earlier this week, a panel at the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals issued an Order effectively nixing Ulbricht’s request for rehearing. The Order says that the panel that determined the appeal has considered the request for panel rehearing, and the active members of the Court have considered the request for rehearing en banc. The petition is denied.

There are no details on the rationale for the decision.

Let’s recall that, on February 7, 2019, Ulbricht submitted his Petition for Panel Rehearing or for Rehearing en banc. In the document, Ulbricht outlined several points for consideration.

The court should rehear this matter en banc because, according to Ulbricht, it involves a question of exceptional importance that the panel did not address, namely, whether trial counsel’s refusal to provide the defendant with his complete client file (1) interfered with the defendant’s exercise of his right to pursue Rule 33 relief; and (2) established good cause for the defendant to obtain an extension of time as needed to obtain his complete file, and to then research investigative leads which may be in his file, in the search for new evidence that could require a new trial.

The panel decision, says Ulbricht, conflicts with the decision of this court in another case where the court reversed a trial court’s denial of a new trial motion on the basis that the defendant learned after trial, that a juror had lied in her answers during voir dire in order to be chosen to serve on the jury.

Finally, Ulbricht argued the panel should rehear this matter because the panel decision reveals that the panel misapprehended or overlooked several important points, including

  • that Ulbricht argued that he needed his client file from trial counsel in order to effectively research his Rule 33 claim, not because he thought that file would contain newly discovered evidence;
  • that Ulbricht could not obtain prior to trial the pen/trap data he now seeks because the government refused to produce it, despite his request;
  • Ulbricht did not have reason to think that the government had used illegal electronic surveillance of his home in their pen/trap data collection, until the publication of American Kingpin in 2017; and
  • that the government notified Ulbricht three days before the Rule 33 filing deadline, that they had just located pen/trap data not previously disclosed, and would send that to Ulbricht’s counsel.

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