Court Delays Ross Ulbricht Silk Road Trial Until January 2015

Stan Higgins
Oct 15, 2014 at 22:41 UTC
Updated Oct 17, 2014 at 10:27 UTC

The case against alleged Silk Road creator Ross Ulbricht has been delayed until next year.

Wired reporter Andy Greenberg first reported on Twitter that Ulbricht’s defense counsel had sought to postpone the start of trial, which was scheduled to begin on 10th November. US District Judge Katherine Forrest then adjourned the trial until early January.

Ulbricht has pled not guilty to charges of drug trafficking, money laundering, hacking and criminal enterprise, and in August pled not guilty to additional drug and conspiracy charges.

The prosecution is arguing that Ross Ulbricht is the mastermind of the now-defunct Silk Road marketplace, but friends, family and supporters say that Ulbricht is the target of an unfair legal inquisition.

Ulbricht defense counsel Joshua Dratel said that his team sought the delay in order to resolve several scheduling issues.

He told CoinDesk:

“The court did not provide its reasons for the adjournment, but we asked for it earlier this week based on a couple of factors: the danger that the trial would run into the Christmas holidays, which would affect juror availability and the continuity of the trial; some technical and logistical delays (owing to the limitations inherent in Mr. Ulbricht’s pretrial confinement) in getting Mr Ulbricht access to some discovery; some other scheduling issues.”

The move gives the Ulbricht team more time to pore over the prosecution’s case, which includes terabytes of server data that the defense says was unlawfully procured by federal authorities.

Trial to go on

The adjournment until January is notable, given prior attempts by the defense to have the case dismissed outright by the court. In July, Judge Forrest rejected a motion to dismiss filed by the Ulbricht team, which at the time contested a money laundering charge.

Earlier this week, the defense suffered a key loss when it tried to contest evidence obtained from Silk Road servers hosted in Iceland. Ulbricht’s team argued that the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) violated the Fourth Amendment by illegally seizing the servers.

According to court documents (hat tip to newsBTC and Andy Greenberg), Judge Forrest rejected the motion because Ulbricht never claimed ownership over the servers in question. Therefore, she said, his assertion that those servers were private property was invalid.

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