Attorneys for Ross Ulbricht appeared in a Manhattan court before a panel of judges to appeal his 2015 conviction. It’s been over a year since Ulbricht, then 32, was sentenced to life in prison without parole for creating and running the Silk Road, and nearly three years since Ulbricht was arrested by FBI agents at a San Francisco library.
Inside the courtroom, Ulbricht’s defense questioned the severity of a life sentence for Ulbricht’s conviction for drug trafficking, money laundering, and leading an organized criminal enterprise. Also at issue: the role of two corrupt agents in the investigation, the credibility of some of the evidence, and the blocking of defense efforts to call a pair of expert witnesses.
Appellate judge Gerald Lynch referenced the portion of Ulbricht’s sentencing hearing in which parents of individuals who had died from drugs purchased on the Silk Road were allowed to testify, saying that such impact statements “put an extraordinary thumb on the scale that shouldn’t be there.”
“Does this [testimony] create an enormous emotional overload for something that’s effectively present in every heroin case?,” Lynch asked, per Mike Hayes of Buzzfeed. “Why does this guy get a life sentence?”
Federal Judge Katherine Forrest had called particular