Ross Ulbricht Denied Post-Conviction Relief Extension

The man convicted of creating the Silk Road marketplace, Ross Ulbricht, has lost yet another appeal to extend his “post-conviction relief.” Judge Katherine Forrest, the judge who sentenced Ulbricht to a double life sentence in 2015, denied the legal team’s attempt to renew the case even if additional circumstantial evidence is found in the future.

The Judge Who Sentenced Ross Ulbricht Throws Down the Hammer Once Again

This month the Judge who handed down two-lifetime prison sentences to Ross Ulbricht denied yet another appeal from within this ongoing court battle. Ulbricht was convicted in February 2015 for creating and running the underground online marketplace the Silk Road from 2011 to 2013. He is currently serving a double life sentence without the chance of parole for money laundering, conspiracy, computer hacking, and narcotics traffic. Over the past few years, Ulbricht’s family members and his legal team have been trying to appeal the sentence with many attempts to re-open the case. The last undertaking took place last year in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and the panel of Judges denied the appeal.

Motion Denied

Now, according to court documents obtained by the Ars Technica columnist Cyrus Farivar, three years later Judge Katherine Forrest is throwing her judgment down again towards the convicted Silk Road creator. Ulbricht’s new lawyer, Paul Grant, tried to extend the fixed three year period with a motion called “Rule 33.” This means that when Ulbricht was sentenced three years ago, there would be a period of time that could be extended if circumstantial evidence was found.

“The motion to extend time for a Rule 33 motion is DENIED,” Judge Forrest explains in her recent notes. “A Rule 33 motion is not an opportunity to relitigate that which has been litigated, or to engage in a fishing expedition for new evidence.”

The Court appreciates that Mr. Grant was not involved in the trial, but the transcript reveals that the very evidence to which he now points (that the FBI was monitoring the defendant’s online movements) was explicitly known at the trial.

Petitioning the Highest Court System

The denial is not Ulbricht’s last chance as he still has a petition with the Supreme Court that was filed late last year. Justices from the high court will hear a response from federal prosecutors in a few weeks, and they will deliberate on whether or not the case should be renewed. The Petition for Writ of Certiorari is asking the Supreme court Justices to “review and reconsider the lower courts’ decisions, based on constitutional violations in the investigation and at sentencing.”  

On February 5, 2018, twenty-one organizations recorded five amicus briefs endorsing the Supreme Court petition. Groups in the amicus briefs include the American Black Cross, the Downsize DC Foundation, the Law Enforcement Action Partnership, the Drug Policy Alliance, the Cato Institute and more.       

What do you think about Judge Forrest’s decision to deny Ross Ulbricht an extension? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

Images via Pixabay,, and documents obtained by Cyrus Farivar. 

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