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Badmouthed the Silk Road Case Judge Online? You Could Be Prosecuted



/ 1 year ago

silk road

The conviction of Ross Ulbricht for creating and running the online black marketplace Silk Road has elicited some heated reactions, with many attacking the case’s judge for ignoring Ulbricht’s plea for leniency in favour of making an example out of him in the war against drugs in her sentencing. Now, in the wake of the trial, prosecutors are seeking to prosecute a number of people who made comments online about the judge.

The US Department of Justice is attempting to trace the identities of certain commenters on Libertarian website Reason.com, as revealed by Popehat, a legal blog that published the grand jury subpoena outlining the DoJ intent to find the posters of derogatory comments regarding US District Judge Katherine Forrest.

“Why is the government using its vast power to identify these obnoxious asshats, and not the other tens of thousands who plague the internet?” Ken White, blogger for Popehat wrote. “Because these twerps mouthed off about a judge.”

After Ross Ulbricht’s sentencing, Reason.com published a blog, sympathetic to Ulbricht, calling Silk Road “a revolutionary website that made it easier and safer to buy and sell illegal drugs” and lamenting that Ulbricht’s plea for leniency went ignored. The post garnered over 100 comments, the majority of which were extremely negative toward Judge Forrest.

Prosecutors have taken exception to eight comments in particular, and are seeking “any and all identifying information” related to them. Here are the eight comments that have cause such ire:

  • Agammamon: Its judges like these that should be taken out back and shot.
  • Alan: It’s judges like this that willbe taken out and short. FTFY.
  • croaker: Why waste ammunition? Wood chippers get the message across clearly. Especially if you feed them in feet first.
  • Cloudbuster: Why do it out back? Shoot them out front, on the steps of the courthouse.
  • Rhywun: I hope there is a special place in hell reserved for that horrible woman.
  • Alan: There is.
  • Product Placement: I’d prefer a hellish place on Earth be reserved for her as well.
  • croaker: F**k that. I don’t want to oay [sic] for that c**t’s food, housing, and medical. Send her through the wood chipper.

The subpoena was issued to Reason.com, demanding identifying information related to the above commenters on the grounds of “interstate threats”, a violation of Federal law 18 USC Section 875.

Is this just a case of hyperbolic internet idiots, or should such comments be taken seriously as threats?

Thank you Ars Technica for providing us with this information.


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  • Porkalicious

    looks like any normal comment to me.

  • Wade Womersley

    Dangerous precedent set if this subpoena is given – do people no longer say “god I could kill him” when they’re angry in the real world? If you do, should you be imprisoned for attempted murder because, ya know, words that sound like they’re dangerous but said out of anger?

    Seriously…..just wtf….

  • DABhand

    Well if you threaten someone’s life online expect retaliation… it’s like common sense kiddle-winkles. Even if they were doing it to act tough and “manly” in front of others… there is things you just don’t say… and it isn’t the first time someone has been prosecuted for online threats.

    Guess we will hear a lot of crying from the kids who think they are above the law and can post whatever they want online. You reap what you sow.