Silk Road’s mastermind Ross Ulbricht takes case to US Court of Appeals

Maria Nikolova

Dread Pirate Roberts appeals Judge Katherine B. Forrest’s decisions to deny his requests to submit his Rule 33 Motion for a new trial based on newly discovered evidence.

Ross William Ulbricht, also known as Dread Pirate Roberts, the mastermind of Silk Road, the notorious marketplace that used Bitcoins for its transactions, is appealing a number of recent decisions by Judge Katherine B. Forrest of the New York Southern District Court.

Ulbricht appeals the decisions of Judge Forrest dated February 5, 2018 and February 21, 2018. In these instances, the Judge denied the motion to extend time for a Rule 33 motion and a petition for a rehearing . Explaining her motives for making the judgement, Judge Katherine B. Forrest said: “A rule 33 motion is not an opportunity to re-litigate that which has been litigated, or to engage in a fishing expedition for new evidence”.

She noted the transcript reveals that the very evidence to which the defendant points (that the FBI was monitoring the defendant’s online movements) was explicitly known at the trial. “This is not new news”, the Judge said. No good cause to delay the deadline has been shown, she concluded.

Ulbricht believes that the court has misapprehended, overlooked, or misapplied certain facts and pertinent law. According to him, the court is mistaken in not noting that the evidence the defendant brought to the court’s attention is, in fact, new evidence that was neither disclosed nor known to exist at the time of trial.

What was not known prior to trial, according to Ulbricht’s counsel, was that the US government was using unauthorized surveillance tools to track Ulbricht’s physical movements and location within his residence. Also, the defendant’s counsel says that the government did have additional and material FBI-collected PRTT data (pen register and trap and trace data), evidence that was material to the preparation of the defense because it is data the government relied on in its applications for the laptop and residence search warrants.

The extension of time was requested in order to obtain and examine pen register and trap and trace data.

The Notice of Appeal filed by Ulbricht states that he appeals to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit from the Orders denying the extension of time and denying the petition for rehearing of his case.

Ulbricht got a life imprisonment sentence in February 2015. Silk Road operated using the Tor Network and the marketplace users mainly bought and sold drugs, false identification documents, and computer hacking software. Transactions on Silk Road used Bitcoins, favoured because of the anonymity it grants.

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