Readers may remember late last year when we reported that Judge Forrest would not be revealing the witnesses for the prosecution prior to their appearances in Ross Ulbricht’s case, a crucial part of the process of discovery in any criminal defense. Since the case kicked off last week, the judge has routinely indicated that she is not interested in being fair or impartial.
She prohibited the defense from introducing Ulbricht’s political beliefs into the discourse. She has said that if jury nullification advocates continue their attempts to inform jurors of their rights, she will have them confined to a secure location with no outside contact. Jury nullification is when a juror decides that even though the defendant is guilty of the crime of which he is accused, the law is unjust, and the juror has the legal right to vote not guilty.
This last bit is the ultimate linchpin in cases where the defendant believes he is fighting for freedom. Jury nullification is one of the least used but perhaps most effective means of winning a criminal case, but Judge Forrest would not allow any juror who was aware of the right to actually serve on the case.
Now, in a confusing move, the Judge has ruled that during cross-examination of Undercover Agent Jared Der-Yeghiayan, the defense may not ask questions related to Der-Yeghiayan’s belief in 2012 and 13 that Dread Pirate Roberts was actually Mt. Gox‘s Mark Karpeles. The prosecution wrote two letters to the judge requesting that she deny them the ability to bring this up, saying that the interview itself was hearsay.
Effectively, the jury will not be able to consider the widely-publicized interview in which Dread Pirate Roberts confirms that he did not start the illicit market. This narrative goes in line with what the defense has already told the jury, and could effectively create a reasonable doubt against the prosecution’s charges.
The move marks the third time the Judge has helped to stack the deck against Ross Ulbricht, whose defense, many believe, is already weak enough. Even those who feel he is guilty, surely, would like to see Ulbricht receive a fair trial. Actions such as this could open the door to the case being overturned by a higher court. CCN remains faithfully on the case and will deliver updates as they become available.