Despite evidence which has surfaced since the first of Ross Ulbricht’s two trials was concluded, a federal judge in New York has denied Ulbricht’s attorneys requests for a retrial.
Judge Katherine Forrest felt that Ulbricht’s guilt was overwhelmingly proven by the prosecutors and that a retrial is unnecessary, apparently considering the actions of DEA Agent Force, who prosecutors now say knowingly laundered bitcoins through BitStamp among other crimes, unrelated.
Instead, she believes that the actions of Agent Force are only more incriminating for Ulbricht, if anything. In her ruling, to this effect, she says:
The investigation of SA Force is, if anything, inculpatory as it suggests that Ulbricht, as DPR, was seeking to pay law enforcement for inside information to protect his illegal enterprise.
Throughout the landmark case, which was a first in many ways for both sides of the law and especially for Bitcoin, Judge Forrest took liberties with her role as a judge. For instance, she willfully attempted to weed out jurors who were aware of their right to jury nullification. She also refused to allow the defense to talk about Ross Ulbricht’s political beliefs, which might have given the jury the impression that he was acting on his conscience, information which can be potent in determining whether a person is truly guilty or not.
Forrest also said in her ruling as regards the retrial:
The Government presented overwhelming evidence of Ulbricht’s guilt. Ulbricht was caught red-handed—logged in and chatting on a personal laptop, which Ulbricht unquestionably owned, filled with Silk Road files. In the face of this mound of evidence, there is no faint possibility, much less ‘reasonable probability,’ that the jury would have reached a different verdict.
The defense had hoped that recent revelations about the activities of federal agents attached to the Silk Road case would aid them in their quest for a retrial, but their hopes now appear dashed. There is always the chance of winning on appeal, but so far the venue seems hostile to any positive future for Mr. Ulbricht.