Carmen Ortiz, the Massachusetts U.S. attorney whose office is prosecuting Aaron Swartz at the time of his suicide, has issued a statement Defend your actions in the matter:
I must, however, make it clear that the action of this office is appropriate in bringing and handling this matter. The lawyers who handle this matter do a very difficult job of enforcing a law that they have sworn to follow, and they do so in a reasonable manner. Prosecutors know that there is no evidence against Mr. Swartz that shows he carried out his actions for personal gain, and they know that his behavior – while breaking the law – does not warrant the harsh punishments that have been imposed. authorized by Congress and called by the Judiciary in appropriate cases. That is why, in discussions with his lawyers about the settlement of the case, this office sought an answer that fits the charges against them – a sentence that will be recommended to the judge for six months in a small shelter.
If Ortiz thought six months was an appropriate sentence for Swartz’s crimes, he didn’t say so in it. 2011 press release touting Swartz’s indictment. “If convicted on these charges, SWARTZ faces up to 35 years in prison,” the press release said.
“Theft is whether you use a computer command or computer, and whether you take documents, data or dollars,” Ortiz wrote in 2011. “It is equally harmful to the victim whether he sells what he has stolen or gives it away. . “
And not satisfied with that 35-year sentence, Ortiz’s office filed a second indictment against Swartz in 2012 that increased the number of charges from four to 13. In this second indictment, Ortiz’s office broke Swartz’s actions into five different date ranges. and accused him. under two different provisions of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act for each period. Each of these ten counts is punishable by up to five years in prison.
“What happened in the Swartz case happens in many, many federal criminal cases,” legal scholar Orin Kerr said in a paper. Wednesday blog post. “Yes, prosecutors try to force a plea deal by intimidating the defendant with arguments that he will be locked up for a long time if convicted at trial. Yes, prosecutors file a winning charge designed to intimidate Swartz is even more into the plea. Guilty (doesn’t affect the possible sentence, but it’s a strong deterrent). Yes, prosecutors insist on jail time and a felony conviction as part of the plea.”
But Kerr argues that the use of these techniques is common in the judicial system. “If you want to end these proceedings, don’t just complain about the Swartz case,” Kerr wrote. “Don’t just complain when the defendant is a nice guy who went to Stanford and hangs out with Larry Lessig. Instead, complain that this is business as usual in federal criminal cases around the country—mostly with a defendant that no one has ever heard of and who was locked up for years without anyone else caring much.”