Skip to comments.Suicide of Computer Whiz Prompts Look at Federal Prosecutors' Tactics
Posted on 02/15/2013 6:54:51 PM PST by NoLibZone
The case of computer whiz Aaron Swartz -- who committed suicide after federal prosecutors charged him with 13 felony fraud counts -- has become, for some, emblematic of how overzealous prosecutors are going too far in pursuit of a win.
The shocking suicide -- the 26-year-old co-creator of RSS and Reddit hanged himself last month -- has led to calls to rein in the practice of overcharging defendants.
Swartz could have been punished with up to 35 years in prison and $1 million in fines -- a greater penalty than some murderers face. And it was all for downloading millions of academic documents that were available at the M.I.T. Library for a small fee.
U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz issued a statement after Swartz's suicide that read in part, "At no time did this office ever seek -- or ever tell Mr. Swartz's attorneys that it intended to seek -- maximum penalties under the law."
Still, some scholars believe the Swartz prosecution is symptomatic of a fundamental shift in tactics at U.S. attorneys' offices across the country, as well as for local prosecutors.
Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/02/15/win-at-all-costs-suicide-computer-whiz-prompts-look-at-federal-prosecutors/#ixzz2L1hIluUt
(Excerpt) Read more at foxnews.com ...
Trying to force him to make a deal.
Trying to force him to make a deal.
Conrad Black has written extensively on the subject.
Reminds me of the time in a sham ‘family court’ when the judge told me that a case worker is allowed to lie to parents. It’s ok to LIE when it can be construed as a means to an end. This was family court crap.
The really insidious thing about this tactic is this: assume you’re innocent of a crime, but you’ve been charge with 50 counts of something, each of which might land you in prison for ten or more years. You’re offered a plea bargain that will net you maybe a year in prison and a fine. Now you’ve got to ask yourself: do I plead guilty, and take the infamy of a felony conviction, or pursue my rights, knowing I’m innocent, and run the risk of having my life completely ruined?
“...the feds have used certain techniques that virtually assure convictions of both the innocent and the guilty, the wealthy and the poor, the violent drug dealer and the white collar defendant, indifferent to the niceties of due process of law, particularly the right to effective assistance of legal counsel.
“In order to prevent a defendant from retaining a defense team of his choice, federal prosecutors will first freeze his assets, even though a jury has yet to find them to have been illegally obtained.
“They then bring prosecutions of almost unimaginable complexity, assuring that the financially hobbled defendants diminished legal team (or, as is often the case, his court-appointed lawyer) will be too overwhelmed to mount an adequate defense.”
(Conrad Black is mentioned here BTW.)
If you've been charged, your life is effectively ruined, regardless of the outcome.
Assuming that is correct, extrapolate the correct response. Killing people or offing yourself are not solutions.
A little bit of truth in advertising might be helpful, if unexpected, from the media.
The statue doesn't matter - what counts is the sentencing guidelines. The sentences contained in the laws passed by congress are mere political theater. A judge is going to have to come up with extraordinary justification if he tries to vary from the much lower dictated guidelines.
“And it was all for downloading millions of academic documents that were available at the M.I.T. Library for a small fee. “
The small fee varied from 13 to 39 dollars. So he stole several tens of millions of dollars worth of someone’s property.
He felt that some types of property should not be owned, but shared with all, unfortunately the owner of the property did not agree.
It was a technicallity.
Plus they force your employer to let you go, in many cases, by threatening to extend the investigation into the suspect’s work. Plus there are articles about you in the local paper.
No job, no money, no good lawyer...explains why the feds have a 99% conviction rate.
...the feds have used certain techniques that virtually assure convictions of both the innocent and the guilty, the wealthy and the poor, the violent drug dealer and the white collar defendant, indifferent to the niceties of due process of law, particularly the right to effective assistance of legal counsel.
In order to prevent a defendant from retaining a defense team of his choice, federal prosecutors will first freeze his assets, even though a jury has yet to find them to have been illegally obtained.
They then bring prosecutions of almost unimaginable complexity, assuring that the financially hobbled defendants diminished legal team (or, as is often the case, his court-appointed lawyer) will be too overwhelmed to mount an adequate defense.
(Conrad Black is mentioned here BTW.)
Federal neo-Nazi prosecutors get away with this crap because Congress refuses to stop it. Congress could rein in these neo-Nazis tomorrow, but it won’t because it suits their quest for money and power.
It now falls to ordinary citizens to end this abuse of power. I know that a number of FReepers don’t like what happened in Libya with Khaddhafi, but the citizens there sure ended the abuse by decorating lampposts with politicians, bureaucrats, lawyers, generals and mercenaries.
When I was in Law School I once started an answer to a professor’s question with, “Well, common sense would tell you....” I was shot down immediately and the professor made a comment something along the line that “common sense was not applicable to the law.”
Yeah, no kidding.
Prosecutors do this all the time, hell, it is such a threat to your liberty, if a private citizen did that to someone they would go to jail for assault or harassment or both.
That's the problem with the so called 'justice' system. No common sense.
at the same time our Government spends millions in schools fighting “Bullying”
While it does need to be looked at, my daddy taught me from a young age: Don’t start none, and there won’t be none, son.
We need to hire these same Federal Regulators to whup up on our sorry politicians.
I have read, because of his Harvard affiliation, he could have downloaded them through Harvard for no fee.
The man was not downloading information for profit. He has contributed more in his short life than most of us.
Murderers and rapists walk free in a few years. He was pursued and threatened for decades in prison by a politically ambitious AG .
” in which he returned the downloaded material. “
He didn’t delete it from the servers when he copied it, that makes no sense. He returned copies of what he downloaded?
As for vicious prosecutions, look what they did in the Amerithrax cases, both men were basically tortured.
Yes, it is frequently true that crime victims have little say in how the prosecution goes. Apparently FedGov has little tolerance for people who hack major systems. Can’t wait to see Obama’s new cybersecurity EO’s.
Meanwhile Jon Corzine walks free
“He has contributed more in his short life than most of us.”
Well I guess that justifies anything else he might have done. Several people have mentioned this moral-relativity defense.
I do think his prosecution was over the top. As I mentioned above the Amerithrax cases, and the Richard Jewell case and many others show that the feds have rigged the system. For instance the defense cannot, in a Federal trial, bring up anything that the Federal prosecution has not brought up, which includes exculpatory evidence.
Personally, I think pitchforks, tar and feathering is a noble tradition that should be revived.
I was raised from the mid ‘50’s....to respect law and order; courts and cops.
Today......I have as much respect for the courts as I do for cops.....which is .......zero. Nada. Zilch.
They brought it upon themselves. To Hell with all of them.
These guys go out of their way to ruin a productive member of society but look the other way when it comes to illegal aliens. Then they go home and pat themselves on the back. The system is broken.
I am fighting to have access, not custody, to/of my son. I was told by my lawyer, “There is nothing reasonable or fair about the law”. My response was, “Then why does it command our allegiance?”.
I received no answer.
Exactly.With each passing day I have less and less respect for these "institutions".I was always taught that as time passed my respect would *grow*.Thanks a bunch,Bill Ayers & Pals!
Your Post 28 is spot-on.
No, not common sense - what's missing (by manipulation) is common law.
The grand jury was where citizens took their criminal complaints; the GJ then investigated and told the prosecutor to press charges and convene the court. Not sure when, but it has been turned upside down to where the victim gets little if any justice, and all too often the criminal gets railroaded by the process.
Your daddy was probably unaware that the gov't will simply employ a snitch to claim there was some, in order for them to start some.
Your behavior is irrelevant. If they want a piece of you, they will take it and leave your backside smarting.
He yelled at me, "Whats this!!?? What IS this! As he shook the bag in my face.
I said, "I think its tiny lightbulbs."
That made him very angry and he looked like he was having a heart attack. His fat fingers couldn't open the bag properly and he ripped it and about a hundred tiny LED bulbs flew into the air and bounced on the ground in front of his feet.
Guess if he said sorry! Guess if he asked the cost of the bulbs he dumped on the road. Guess if he stooped to even try and pick them up.
I still hope that jerk gets erectile dysfunction.
The second time I had to call a cop was when my father-in-laws closed bike shop got broken into. The responding cop actually helped himself to more inventory than the punk kids stole. Seriously. He said he needed tubes for his kids bike. New tires would be cool too. And wow, those old school grips would match his Mongoose. I guess I should have told him to get bent but.. hes a cop. I was a chick that needed a cop.
And lets not even get started on the disaster that is the LAPD.
Firemen on the other hand ARE awesome. I called them once for fire in a bar. The fire was in the wall where a welder had dropped hot metal (solder?) from some security bars he was putting on the windows. The firemen came in and tarped the jukebox and pool tables before they hosed the place. They ROCKED! The back of the building burned to the ground but everything under the tarp was saved. I know it wasn't anything terribly valuable but they treated it like it was. I still have that jukebox in my studio. Its a killer old Rowe 100C. I'll never forget those sexy firemen!
While everyone was watching NBA and NFL ...
The commies plotted to infiltrate all the institutions, Gramsci style.
The commies plotted to gain control of guns and ammunition -- still in progress.
The commies plotted to gain control of water, for irrigation, for drinking, for watering lawns and gardens -- in progress.
The commies plotted to gain control of K-12 education (they already had control of colleges and universities).
The commies plotted to gain control of food production, distribution, and consumption.
And on, and on, the commies plot to gain control of everything essential to life and liberty.
And the commies plotted to gain control of all research information. Swartz, a budding commie himself, stumbled onto that plot, and experienced an epiphany. Therefore, he had to be eliminated.
Reads like a spy/thriller, almost. If only it were fiction.
"JSTOR -- the only plausible entity "harmed" by Aaron's acts -- pled "no foul." JSTOR did not want Swartz prosecuted. It settled any possible civil claims against Swartz with the simple promise that he return what he had downloaded. Swartz did. JSTOR went away."
"But the government did not. In the weeks before his death, the government reaffirmed what they had been insisting upon for the 18 months before: jail, a felony conviction, and a bankrupting fine, or else Swartz was going to face a bankrupting trial."
I wonder if Solzhenitsyn would agree?
Anvilhead: “I was told by my lawyer, There is nothing reasonable or fair about the law. My response was, Then why does it command our allegiance?.”
It now falls to ordinary citizens to end this abuse of power.
Go to paragraph 1. Congress gets away with their crap because ordinary citizens refuse to stop it. Ordinary citizens could rein in those neo-Nazis tomorrow, but they won't because it suits the ordinary citizens' laziness, complacency, torpor, cowardice, and/or quest for money and power (income, status and career).
In other words, the American people themselves are to blame. They accept increasing statism, they surrender their sovereign citizenship and accept serfdom. They meekly pay whatever taxes are demanded, for the "privilege" of going about their lives, pursuing their careers. They pay the salaries of the prosecutors, the judges, the legislators, the tax collectors, the TSA, the regulators, the President.
It is not that Congress refuses to stop some abuse. It is that we do not get together in an effective force and stop this monstrously abusive government.
Productive Americans -- those who pay taxes -- love law abiding, more than they love liberty. So they can't be expected to defy the law and simply refuse to pay taxes another year. But what explains their failure to remedy matters legally, by refusing to work?
In the past, when the nation's survival was at stake, Americans put down their pens and plows, and forfeited their incomes, and prepared to forfeit their very lives, for the sake of America.
Today, the nation's survival is at stake. What are they doing?
Then I guess the legal question is “cui bono?” Aside from a generic, Gramscian desire to destroy the successful, who was actually gaining a professional or political benefit by prosecuting this guy in the absence of any valid legal reason to do so?
Then why do we render what it commands?
Why do we value "law abiding" over liberty? Because in the short term, it's easier and less risky -- and therefore more appealing to the lazy and timid.
In the long term, our children and grandchildren will suffer the consequences. Yet we denounce legislators for heaping debt on the not-yet-born. We -- not the legislators -- are heaping chains and darkness on them.
An aquaintance went through delay after delay on a felony case which everyone knew was totally a lie and the guy was innocent but the state ruined his life and his family’s lives. They put the guy through hell and were helped by the lies of the local media. Finally, he couldn’t take it anymore and committed suicide. Of course, the media used his booking photo to triumphfully announce his death when he’d spent all of 3 hours behind bars during the initial arrest a year before. It’s all a game to these people.
It’s the same as the “slip and fall” scam. Companies will settle for a few grand to avoid the court costs.
Here in NJ the relationship between cops/firemen/teachers and those that employ/pay them has been turned on its head; they squeeze the life out of property owners with no regard for anything else (and they operate under ancient staffing models, geared towrds the large manufacturing areas of the state that are basically empty “brownfields” now). They are our upper middle class, while the real middle class is fleeing as fast as they can. Thankfully, the money ran out and thousands were laid off (and they have no job skills to keep them on the taxpayers’ teat). Most of NJ has volunteer firemen anyway; the real economic toll comes from cops (retiring in their mid-40s) and teachers (receiving $80K+ at 45 years old to work 6 hours a day, 180 days per year).
To their credit, our local firemen were the only ones to grant concessions to save the jobs of the newest members; not so with cops & teachers. Many of these people intermarry because nobody working in the private sector could ever understand or respect their auto-worker like union mentality; they have become a class unto themselves, and only affirmative action nonsense has reduced the number of families where several generations lived off the taxpayer teat.
“We fully deserve the nation we have and are handing down to our children.”
Yeah, I bet lots of Kapos said the same thing.
“It is that we do not get together in an effective force and stop this monstrously abusive government.”
Ain’t that the truth.
Conservatives suffer under sky-high property taxes because they don’t attend county board meetings.
Communists are in public schools because conservatives don’t attend schoolboard meetings.
Communities are invaded by jackboot cops because conservatives refuse to get involved and vote in a constitutional sheriff to protect their property and interests.
The Founders warned us that liberty requires constant vigilance. Conservatives are failing in that duty and may lose everything if they don’t get active, organize and participate.