A judge has described ‘moot’ Ross Ulbricht’s latest attempt to have his multiple life sentences voided/overruled lawyer Paul Grant failed to file papers withdrawing himself as Ulbricht’s attorney.
Ulbricht is trying to have his sentences vacated and claims that his ex-defense attorney Joshua Drathel gave incompetent counsel.
Ulbricht created and administered the Silk Road black market from 2011 and 2013, when he was arrested. Silk Road was a popular Dark Net marketplace for selling drugs, weaponry, and other illegal items, though site admins have claimed that the siteenforced a “no harm” policy.
During Ulbricht’s trial, Presiding Judge Katherine Forrest was“doxed” and received life-threatening messages.
Investigators and journalists have claimed that, during the courseof running the site, Ulbricht, who named himself, “Dread PirateRoberts,” attempted to deal with conflicts and thefts by arrangingthe assassination of his opponents by contracting hitmen.
Ulbricht was nonetheless convicted and sentenced to serve twoconcurrent life sentences without the possibility of parole.
In June, Ulbricht submitted a declaration in NewYork in which he said his lawyer Joshua Dratel advised him incorrectly about his prospects of winning at trial if he plead not guilty:
“Trial counsel recommended I reject the government’s offerbecause the sentencing exposure was too great, there was nothingto be gained by pleading guilty, and nothing to lose by going to trial…Trial counsel never told me that 97% of all federaldefendants plead guilty because most defense attorneys…typicallyconsider going to trial too risky and…likely to result in a harshersentence (the “trial penalty”) if the defendant is convicted…I wasnot told that in 2012 and 2013…90% of those who went to trial were convicted at trial…I was not informed that fewer than 1% offederal criminal defendants in the United States were found not guilty in 2012 or 2013.”
Ulbricht also claims that his lawyer admitted his guilt withoutUlbricht’s permission:
“Later on in the trial, Mr. Dratel told me he was going to stipulate to the admissibility of government evidence regardingdrugs purchased on the Silk Road…Trial counsel assured me thatthese stipulations were consistent with defending me against thecharges. I did not realize that trial counsel’s stipulations and admission of my role were concessions of my guilt. I expected himto challenge the government’s evidence and the credibility and knowledge of its witnesses.”
Ulbricht also claimed his lawyer threatened at the 11th hour to abandon the case if he testified in his own defence:
“Near the end of the prosecutor’s case, I met with Mr. Dratel in a holding cell just outside the trial courtroom. At that time, I informed Mr. Dratel that I had decided to testify. He was quite disturbed with my decision and he told me he would withdraw as my counsel if I insisted on testifying…”
“I regret to this day that I did not get the chance it testify…it would have allowed me to explain many things to the jury(,) many things which were misrepresented by the government or which were not made clear at my trial, and to correct their misrepresentation of who I am,” Ulbricht writes.
Ulbricht’s attorneys has been ordered to file a new motion to vacate the sentence by September 27, 2019.