Today was jury selection day at the very-important trial of Ross Ulbricht in New York City. Free Keene bloggers were out front of the federal district court in Manhattan, trying to get the word out about the insane penalty that Ross Ulbricht is facing if he’s found guilty at trial. Ross is accused of running the Silk Road underground marketplace and is facing decades in prison for it. Ross’ mother, Lyn has stood by her son and even joined the Free State Project. She has said that Ross will come to Porcfest in 2015 if he is not imprisoned!
However, getting him out of the cage he’s been in for 15 months awaiting trial is no easy task. The prosecutors are well funded and working within a system where they are on the same side as the judge. In the insane, inhumane US court system, jurors are generally precluded from knowing the penalty faced by the accused, as it may make them more likely to nullify a bad law if they feel the penalty is too severe.In a previous motion, the prosecution asked the judge to prevent Ulbricht from testifying about his liberty-oriented beliefs and they specifically mentioned wanting to prevent the jury from any possibility of jury nullification.
They are deathly afraid of jurors knowing about nullification. Indeed, according to Derrick J, potential jurors are being asked if they saw any signs outside the court. If so, the prosecution is dismissing them.
Several signs came from a heroic effort by Derrick J to help Free Ross that included liberty activists cranking out signage to bring for Ulbricht supporters, including:
“30 YEARS TO LIFE FOR AN HONEST WEBSITE?”
“WEB HOSTING IS NOT A CRIME. WTF?”
NH liberty activists have been doing jury rights outreach for years and defendants at trial in New Hampshire have been able to raise jury nullification as a defense, but this is federal court. No cell phones are allowed in. No cameras. Not even for the media. Just pencil and paper.
Guardian reporter Nicky Woolf, who came to Keene this fall and interviewed people, including me, about the police response to the Pumpkinfest Riots, took notice of the sign-holding this morning and interviewed Derrick J for his piece on the Ulbricht Trial from today.