A U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland has filed a motion to dismiss pending charges against Ross Ulbricht, known as “Dread Pirate Roberts,” who is serving a life sentence following his conviction for his role in the Silk Road marketplace which facilitated the sale of illegal drugs.
The motion to drop the indictment and superseding indictment for pending charges was filed by Attorney Robert Hur, who noted that Ulbricht’s sentence and conviction have been affirmed on appeal and that the Supreme Court has denied an appeal.
The pending charges in Maryland included the allegation that Ulbricht tried to hire a hitman to commit murder, charges that Ulbricht claimed influenced the judge to give him an unreasonably harsh sentence.
Hur’s motion, filed with United States District Judge Catherine C. Blake, advised that Ulbricht remain in the Bureau of Prisons custody.
Supreme Court Ruling Ends Legal Saga
Last month, the Supreme Court denied Ulbricht’s petition for writ of certiorari, a ruling that prevented him from appealing his life sentence. That ruling was seen as bringing Ulbricht’s lengthy legal war to an end.
Ulbricht’s case was seen by legal experts as raising constitutional questions, which led some to think the case would get a hearing. A total of 20 organizations filed amicus curiae briefs supporting Ulbricht’s petition, including the National Lawyers Guild, the Gun Owners of America, and the Reason Foundation.
Ulbricht claimed his Fourth and Sixth Amendment rights were violated by law enforcement during the investigation and the sentencing. He cited the fact that law enforcement officers gathered internet traffic information without getting a required warrant.
He also claimed the judge placed an unreasonable sentence on him based in part on unsubstantiated allegations that he tried to contract a hitman, for which he never received due process.
Ulbricht supporters were hopeful that his petition would be granted on account of a court ruling in another case, Carpenter v. United States, which held that the Fourth Amendment gives people an expectation of privacy over personal data, even when they provide it to third parties.
Legal expert Tom Goldstein, who taught Supreme Court litigation at Harvard Law School and co-founded the SCOTUSblog, said Ulbricht’s case covered legal matters having a reasonable chance of being heard by the Supreme Court.
Presidential Pardon Sought
Following the Supreme Court ruling denying Ulbricht’s petition, the Libertarian Party asked President Trump to pardon Ulbricht at its annual convention this month. Darryl Perry, chair of the Libertarian Party of New Hampshire, noted that because of the ruling, a presidential pardon is Ulbricht’s only hope of getting out of jail.
Perry said if the president does not act according to the resolution, the country needs to elect a Libertarian president in 2020 to get Ulbricht pardoned.
Ross Ulbricht Image from FreeRoss.org