Silk Road Judge Has Allowed Prosecutors Not To Disclose Their Witnesses

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Ross Ulbricht on CourtThe trial of alleged Silk Road mastermind Ross Ulbricht is scheduled to begin on Monday, January 5, 2015, but the judge presiding over the Silk Road case, New York district court judge Katherine Forrest has decided to allow the prosecutors not to disclose the identities of their witnesses until January 2, 2015, the Friday before the scheduled start of the trial.



Judge Katherine ForrestAccording to the explanation provided by Judge Forrest, her reason for not allowing the disclosure of the witnesses is due to the fact that Mr. Ulbricht could arrange to have them harmed or murdered before the trial, if their identities are revealed. The move was a response to a request filed by the prosecution to have the names of the witnesses redacted; they cited FBI reports that Mr. Ulbricht had paid to have six people murdered. One of the people Mr. Ulbricht allegedly paid to have murdered was a former Silk Road employee, and he allegedly contracted an undercover DEA agent to do the job, paying him $80,000.


Mr. Ulbricht’s defense attorneys argued against the request to withhold the names of the witnesses, because it would make it more difficult for them to prepare for the case, and also because he has been in jail with limited contact with the outside world since he was arrested, and he also doesn’t have access to email, so it would be nearly impossible to do anything to the witnesses because of those reasons.


In response to the defense’s objections, Judge Forrest wrote that despite being imprisoned with limited access to the outside world, Mr. Ulbricht could still find a way to get in touch with contacts on the outside, that could harm the witnesses, because there have been many cases in the past, with defendants in similar situation that have been able to find ways to intimidate or harm people that were going to testify against them.