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After Aaron Swartz's Death, the Focus Now Falls On the Prosecutors

samzenpus posted about a year and a half ago | from the who's-to-blame dept.

Crime 430

Marcion writes "Journalists and commentators are now questioning the role of Massachusetts prosecutors Carmen Ortiz and Stephen Heymann in the suicide of Aaron Swartz and whether they levied disproportionate charges in order to boost their own political profiles, despite being warned he was a suicide risk. Meanwhile White House petitions to remove Ortiz and Heymann have already received tens of thousands of signatures. Should these prosecutors be investigated for their actions regarding Swartz?"

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430 comments

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Of course not (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42611433)

They're members of the Obama administration. They can do no wrong. Just ask Tim "Turbo Tax" Geithner or Eric "Fast and Furious" Holder.

Re:Of course not (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42611511)

Fast and Furious started before Obama, your point is ?

Re:Of course not (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42611569)

And Obama and Eric Holder expanded it and then covered it up when it went wrong.
Thanks for proving my point.

Re:Of course not (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42611635)

Good thing Bush didn't make 23 orders to bypass Congress because it was too slow and hound someone until he killed himself. Where are the Occupy-like protesters now?

Re:Of course not (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42611861)

Where are they? Somewhere Demoralized, Frustrated . Like Swartz himself.

Re:Of course not (4, Interesting)

Qzukk (229616) | about a year and a half ago | (#42611777)

The simple fact is that whichever party they're a member of, prosecutors have incredible levels of immunity from the effects of both their own malice and incompetence.

To go on the attack against Republicans, here in Texas, we (the taxpayers) had to pay out a pretty hefty wrongful imprisonment fee because one prosecutor hid the existence of a bloody bandana for years, and when it was finally discovered, a second prosecutor blocked testing of it for several years more.

When the Innocence Project finally got a court to force the prosecutors to allow testing of the blood, it turned up the victim's DNA and another man's DNA... the other man having gone on to possibly kill other people [kxan.com] while an innocent guy sat in jail in his place. No big deal, apparently. The first guy might get to face a court regarding the withholding of evidence, but his tribunal seems to keep slipping farther into the future.

At least the second guy got voted out by an angry public (though that's not going to get them their millions of tax dollars back), but don't cry too much for him, his best bud Gov. Rick Perry will keep him employed [theagitator.com] .

Say it ain't so! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42611463)

Civil Serpents abusing their power for personal ends? Shocking.

British Nurse Suicide (-1, Flamebait)

VinylRecords (1292374) | about a year and a half ago | (#42611467)

This reminds me of the British nurse who committed suicide after being prank called by a team of Australian DJs. Everyone blamed the DJs for pushing her to kill herself. The family even sued them to get money from them because they felt that they were owed compensation.

It turned out that the nurse had threatened suicide before, had a history of depression, and that the prank phone call had nothing to do with her death.

Now are blaming Aaron Swartz's death on everyone and anything. Was it MIT? Was it the government? Was it him being bullied by them?

Maybe he had a history of depression and had talked of suicide before. And maybe he would have killed himself anyways. And the real issue is not that he was up for charges for 'hacking' or whatever term the media is using this week. Maybe the issue is that he was suicidal for years and never dealt with what caused his severe emotional trauma.

I know the sexier story is that MIT and the government killed Swarts. Just like it was sexier when those Australian DJs killed that nurse. But the reality is that suicide is a major, I believe the biggest killer, for people Swartz's age. So this is not an anomaly death for his age group, it's a common occurrence in society. Mental health is the issue here. Not his trial for 'hacking' or whatever.

Re:British Nurse Suicide (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42611505)

Wow. From what you're saying, you really know absolutely nothing about this story at all, do you?

Re:British Nurse Suicide (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42611519)

Being publicly embarrassed worldwide = nothing to due with it.

Re:British Nurse Suicide (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42611743)

Being publicly embarrassed worldwide = nothing to dew with it.

FTFY Learn too spell.

Re:British Nurse Suicide (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42611915)

Yew ar am Dooche Bagg.

Re:British Nurse Suicide (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42611553)

Maybe the issue is that he was suicidal for years and never dealt with what caused his severe emotional trauma.

[citation needed]

Re:British Nurse Suicide (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42611681)

How's this? [aaronsw.com]

Re:British Nurse Suicide (2)

SomePgmr (2021234) | about a year and a half ago | (#42611723)

When someone speculates, "citation needed" doesn't usually make sense.

But if it adds something, his occasional bouts of depression were no secret. In the way of a citation, I offer his own words: http://www.aaronsw.com/weblog/verysick [aaronsw.com]

What the summary doesn't mention, I didn't see on the petitions, and haven't seen the comments so far, is that they offered six months, instead. I'd be interested in knowing if that's accurate. Anyone?

Re:British Nurse Suicide (4, Insightful)

Comrade Ogilvy (1719488) | about a year and a half ago | (#42611555)

So if we cannot prove that there was direct causation, then are the prosecutor's actions a-okay? N. O.

People in a position of authority or trust should not be treating other human beings like dirt, because they think they can get away with it. I do not care if they are a DoJ suit or an asshole roommate named Dharun Ravi.

Re:British Nurse Suicide (0)

ilsaloving (1534307) | about a year and a half ago | (#42612191)

The word 'should' is such a wonderful word. There are lots of things that should and should not be done. Unfortunately, reality doesn't always play out that way.

Re:British Nurse Suicide (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42611581)

As I see it, if you seek public attention (both Swartz and the prosecutors), you need to be prepared for both the good and bad consequences of your actions. Why should any of the parties involved be surprised that there are all sorts of different reactions as a result of seeking public attention?

Re:British Nurse Suicide (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42611613)

It's already known that he was depressed and suicidal before. Just like the nurse, and just like the homo at Rutgers.

Re:British Nurse Suicide (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42611625)

The radio DJs were jackoffs doing their thing. They just got unlucky and messed with a person who was a suicide risk. (Which should really make you think twice about being a jackoff for a living)

The prosecutors on the other hand have legal precedence and obligations when dealing with people that are possible suicide risks. They ignored them.

  Someone was clearly aiming to make a career of making "an example" of Aaron. They literally told him "I am going to ruin your life. You are going to jail (effectively) forever."

  If you were in Aaron's position, don't tell me you wouldn't think of killing yourself too.

Re:British Nurse Suicide (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42611735)

Either way they broke the law. The fact that during the criminal activity they destroyed somebody's life doesn't change the fact that they illegally redistributed information that they illegally obtained.

Holding them responsible for the suicide might be a stretch, but they should still do prison time for the related fraud.

Re:British Nurse Suicide (5, Insightful)

Zimluura (2543412) | about a year and a half ago | (#42611653)

Well, even though he was young at 26, he was facing 35 years in prison. So he would have possibly gotten out when he was 61, maybe earlier with good behavior, but who knows.

options:
a) End your life at 26, you'll be remembered well by your accomplishments and won't have to suffer.
b) A stressful slog through a court case that will leave you in jail for a very long time. In jail the boredom is broken periodically by suffering. If you survive jail, you'll get out, when you're elderly, and then maybe you'll be able to re-acclimate to society after you've spent more than half your life a prisoner.

Shameful. (3, Insightful)

oztiks (921504) | about a year and a half ago | (#42611657)

Oh my, here we go with dumb ass precedence all over again. See my post on philosophies perpetuated by the GP here [slashdot.org] .

You do realise radio DJ's are far more harmless than prosecutors? I.E DJ's aren't out to jail you? You also realise that these are two completely separate issues? and that they pose very little in common with each other?

I think a phone call from your lawyer telling you that what you have to look forward too in life is being locked behind a set steel bars until your 56 and that you and your family owe a $1million debt to the US govt.

This is a pretty compelling reason to top yourself. Also consider how driven this guy is at wanting to make a difference in the world and actually contribute. This news is kind of a bit of an overall set back yeah?

Re:British Nurse Suicide (5, Insightful)

PeeAitchPee (712652) | about a year and a half ago | (#42611659)

The main issue is that the prosecutor was an asshole bully and threatened Swartz with 35 years in the big house for downloading publicly-funded scientific articles, and proceeded full speed ahead even after JSTOR asked them to drop it. There was no prosecutorial discretion -- they were threatening to throw the book at him for what was at best a trespassing misdemeanor. Those are the actions of a compassion-less psychopath, and I for one don't think anyone like that deserves to be a Federal prosecutor. We deserve better. So to a certain extent, Swartz's suicide is a completely separate issue.

Re:British Nurse Suicide (1)

steppin_razor_LA (236684) | about a year and a half ago | (#42611753)

Well put.

Re:British Nurse Suicide (3, Insightful)

fredprado (2569351) | about a year and a half ago | (#42611663)

No, we are blaming a prosecutor for abusing her authority and bullying a citizen in order to promote herself and in the process of doing that, which is illegal and immoral by itself, contributing to the causes that pushed him to suicide.

There Are Many Contributing Factors (4, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | about a year and a half ago | (#42611689)

Now are blaming Aaron Swartz's death on everyone and anything. Was it MIT? Was it the government? Was it him being bullied by them?

Well, this sort of "who done it?" finger pointing isn't very productive. And that's because suicide is rarely a single factor. Even when the person provides a suicide note that blames one single thing or person, there's often other contributing factors. So I think the discussion here is what was the major contributing factor. It sort of reminds me of "Who Killed Davey Moore" by Bob Dylan [youtube.com] where a boxer is killed in a ring and as he examines everyone who participated in the event shrugs any responsibility.

In the strictest sense of responsibility, we here at Slashdot that turned our gaze upon this story and turned it into a national news story that was part of the 24 hour news cycle, we might have had something to do with it by putting even more pressure on the prosecutor and Swartz and everyone involved. Some of these things are hard if not impossible to know.

At the end of the day, it looks safe to blame some of his actions on the prosecutors for being overzealous but I would caution everyone not to put the blame entirely on them or even mostly on them. You should not send the message that suicide is an acceptable way to "get back" at someone or to "really show your enemies and make them sorry." Vocally blame the prosecutors all you want, this is America. But I don't think it's healthy for us to charge them with anything lest other people think that suicide with targeted blame is a great way to make high ranking officials culpable of something.

What I wish Swartz would have done was to step up to the challenge laid before him and see it through. Start a kickstarter for legal fees, seek help from the EFF, do something. Instead he did nothing and turned himself into nothing. If you're prepared to take such extensive means to reach certain ends then you had better be prepared to face the consequences of those actions, regardless of what they turn out to be. If the consequences are trumped up, you'll get your day in court and, like so many arrested during the civil rights era, if you're right you'll be remembered fondly in the annals of history. Instead he's a corpse and a fond memory of his contributions. Indeed incredibly sad but also by his own hand.

The prosecutors did not kill Swartz. But they contributed to a situation that caused him to take his own life. They should feel sorrow for that but I see no wrong. Attack the laws they charged him with if you attack something. But if they over charged him, his day in court should have shown that. Now we'll never know.

Re:There Are Many Contributing Factors (5, Insightful)

fredprado (2569351) | about a year and a half ago | (#42611931)

Oh, you see no wrong with prosecutors charging a person with 35 years for what Aaron did? You see no wrong with a system where a federal prosecutor can bankrupt a person and ruin his life even if he is innocent by just charging him with something? You see no wrong with a system that allows prosecutors to blackmail innocent people into deals because the sentences for even minor crimes can be stretched into decades, and with psychopathic people in positions of power, like this prosecutor, abusing this system for personal promotion? You need to open your eyes wide, my friend, you may be impressed by what you will see.

Re:There Are Many Contributing Factors (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42612163)

Oh, you see no wrong with prosecutors charging a person with 35 years for what Aaron did? You see no wrong with a system where a federal prosecutor can bankrupt a person and ruin his life even if he is innocent by just charging him with something? You see no wrong with a system that allows prosecutors to blackmail innocent people into deals because the sentences for even minor crimes can be stretched into decades, and with psychopathic people in positions of power, like this prosecutor, abusing this system for personal promotion? You need to open your eyes wide, my friend, you may be impressed by what you will see.

Am I the only person that understands that this trial hadn't even taken place yet and Swartz was still innocent? Am I the only person that understands what a prosecutor's job is?

Re:British Nurse Suicide (2)

sjames (1099) | about a year and a half ago | (#42611715)

So the DJs in that case convinced the nurse that she would be spending the next few years in a cage?

Re:British Nurse Suicide (1)

cniebla (158677) | about a year and a half ago | (#42611775)

Agree. Specially in light that Aaron was sucidal before.

Re:British Nurse Suicide (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42611911)

Aussies are great people. They stick together through thick and thin. Or at least they do when the "enemy" is a brown person. Because Aussies would have to be the most casually racist nation of people I have ever met. They make unemployed Missouri ditchdiggers seem progressive and enlightened, when it comes to the subject of race relations.

Look at Schapelle Corby (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schapelle_Corby): She's a nasty piece of work, daughter of an Australian drug kingpin with multiple convictions, her brother in jail on drug charges, and she herself a familiar sight in Aussie police stations. She gets busted importing drugs into Bali, and what happens? Australians have a meltdown about the terrible treatment of poor, innocent wee Schapelle at the hands of "horrible and nasty little brown bastards".

She was innocent! Just because the Balinese customs people found drugs in her bags and she admitted possession to the arresting officers doesn't mean the "monkey people" didn't frame her!

Now imagine if she'd been apprehended by Aussie customs officers. It would barely have made the news, and Aussies would have said "Lock the stupid bitch up and throw away the key".

And holy shit, imagine if she'd been apprehended by American customs agents, should she have been trying to enter US soil. The whole of Australia would have committed suicide in embarrassment, because nobody matters more to Aussies and Australia than the United States of America.

So here we have Aussie "VinylRecord" attempting to blame some "mental little black bitch" for committing suicide and somehow blaming good white Australians for it. If the nurse had been an American, "VinylRecord" would be the one committing suicide, along with the rest of a mortified Australia. Because America is their Ideal, and becoming Americans is their wetdream. The wellbeing of "dirty little black monkeys in wog countries"? Not so much.

Re:British Nurse Suicide (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42612139)

Wow, you must be a Kiwi

Re:British Nurse Suicide (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42612159)

Wow, you must love being raped up the ass by gorillas.

Re:British Nurse Suicide (5, Insightful)

timholman (71886) | about a year and a half ago | (#42612023)

I know the sexier story is that MIT and the government killed Swarts. Just like it was sexier when those Australian DJs killed that nurse. But the reality is that suicide is a major, I believe the biggest killer, for people Swartz's age. So this is not an anomaly death for his age group, it's a common occurrence in society. Mental health is the issue here. Not his trial for 'hacking' or whatever.

I know I'm going to burn some karma for saying this, but Slashdot readers need to get a grip. I remember similar calls for investigating the prosecutors when Hans Reiser was indicted, and how the Slashdot crowd was screaming for blood about the injustice when he was found guilty ... right up to the point where Reiser led the police to his wife's body.

Aaron Swartz made two big mistakes. The first was using MIT's network to download the JSTOR documents, and evading their attempts to stop him. Stop and think why MIT didn't try to curtail the Feds' prosecution: Swartz betrayed their trust by doing what he did. How would you feel if you suddenly learned that someone you trusted, and allowed access to your system, was using your network to download material in a way that was guaranteed to get some powerful people up in arms? If you're going to involve other parties in your act of civil disobedience, you should show them enough respect to ask them first.

His second mistake (in my opinion) was listening to the sort of faux bravado that is so prevalent on Slashdot. "Fight them, Aaron! Information wants to be free! Don't cop a plea!" I've read that he was offered a six month sentence in a plea bargain. Rather than take that offer (which would have given him maybe four to five months in a minimum security facility) and come out smelling like a rose for his act of civil disobedience, he decided to fight it out against an opponent with essentially unlimited resources. And where are all the armchair cheerleaders when you're the one walking into the courtroom? Nowhere to be found.

I'm reminded of the vicious attacks on George Hotz (Geohot) by the armchair brigades when he backed down from Sony's threats. Hotz was smart; he realized how futile it would be to ruin his life in a battle he could not win. Sony offered him an easy way out, and Hotz wisely took it. Too bad Swartz (or his attorneys) didn't see fit to do likewise.

Swartz had a history of severe mental depression. Did his impending trial impact his mental state? No doubt. But when you turn down a plea bargain from the Feds, you can bet your bottom dollar they are going to put you through the wringer. In the end, it was Swartz's decision to abuse MIT's network, Swartz's decision to turn down the plea bargain, and Swartz's decision to end his life - not theirs.

Aaron Swartz was a bright and talented guy with a history of mental depression who made some bad choices, the worst of which was to commit suicide. And the ultimate irony? The JSTOR papers that "wanted to be free"? At any time, anyone could have gone to a local public university library, sat down in front of a terminal, and read those articles to his or her heart's content. That's what so ultimately ridiculous about this whole unfortunate mess.

investigated? No (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42611481)

They shouldn't be investigated, they should be beaten and killed by penguin vigilantes!!!!

Who cares whether suicide risk? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42611513)

Whether the person is a suicide risk should not be a factor in the charges that are brought.

Re:Who cares whether suicide risk? (5, Insightful)

UltraZelda64 (2309504) | about a year and a half ago | (#42611687)

And if the person was not a suicide risk? Then the person still should not be slammed into the ground for such a petty "crime," if you could even call it that.

Just a couple of douchebags stretching a case to make it seem as bad as possible for extra fame, money and brownie points. Nothing more. Business as usual in the government.

Re:Who cares whether suicide risk? (5, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year and a half ago | (#42611747)

Just a couple of douchebags stretching a case to make it seem as bad as possible for extra fame, money and brownie points. Nothing more. Business as usual in the government.

Maybe the moral of the story here is: Business as usual shouldn't be. Ruining someone's life for political gain has consequences. Death, for example. And for people who do this for personal gain rather than to correct an actual injustice... perhaps they're the ones that need to feel the hurt.

Re:Who cares whether suicide risk? (4, Insightful)

UltraZelda64 (2309504) | about a year and a half ago | (#42611853)

Unfortunately, whatever the government does to them, it will not be anywhere near good enough. These people used their power and tried to crush him to the fullest extent that they could manage to squeeze out of the words of the law, distorting actual facts to improve their case. The only judgment that I would say would be fitting to their crime would be to as obscenely unrealistic and disproportional as they were to Aaron. Unfortunately... the chances that they themselves will actually receive such a fitting judgment for their "crime" of far-beyond-reasonable judgment on another U.S. citizen will are pretty low... they will probably be treated like little angels, with the government slapping them on the wrist and then kissing it for them.

Re:Who cares whether suicide risk? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42611817)

Whether the person is a suicide risk should not be a factor in the charges that are brought.

Fair enough but, whether he actually did something illegal or not, should.

Just sayin..

Nigel

Look at our entire system of prosectution (5, Insightful)

runeghost (2509522) | about a year and a half ago | (#42611515)

Focusing on those two (whose behavior does indeed seem pretty despicable) is going to accomplish very little in the long term. Instead, lets revamp some of the fundamentals of our so-called Justice System. Stop letting prosecutors pick and choose who to charge at their own whim, with little to zero oversight. Punish prosecutors who bring charges in bad faith. End the system of plea-bargains and return to the jury trials that are supposed to be the core of our criminal law.

Re:Look at our entire system of prosectution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42611713)

Here here. The plea bargaining process has become a too-convenient shortcut. And it's hardly a "new" problem:
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/plea/

Re:Look at our entire system of prosectution (1)

Dyinobal (1427207) | about a year and a half ago | (#42611725)

Ya I really agree with all this but getting it done? ha. I have no faith that anything will change with out blood and flames.

Re:Look at our entire system of prosectution (4, Insightful)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about a year and a half ago | (#42611809)

So why did these two pick this case to bite into like a pit-bull and not let go? They had political ambitions . . . who were their sponsors and donators? And what were the financial interests of those mentors . . . ? Did that affect their decision to aggressively prosecute this case?

Re:Look at our entire system of prosectution (3, Insightful)

meta-monkey (321000) | about a year and a half ago | (#42611841)

Doesn't seem like an either-or proposition to me. Why not do both? Make an example out of the prosecutors who turn minor complaints or annoyances into massive criminal cases by firing them and ruining their careers. When they whine, "But this is ridiculous and completely out of proportion with what we did! We were just doing what the system is set up for us to do!" we might get some new allies in the fight to change the system.

Re:Look at our entire system of prosecution (0)

cavreader (1903280) | about a year and a half ago | (#42611923)

Any defendant is free to request a jury trial. Nobody is obligated to accept a plea bargain. In a trial everything can be addressed from the gathering of evidence, prosecutorial over reach, and the guilt or innocence of the person charged. The courts have an adversarial relationship with the law enforcement agencies. The court has the power to dismiss or modify any charges presented and they do it all the time. The prosecutors determine what charges to press based upon the results of an investigation conducted by the appropriate law enforcement agencies. If the charges are not supported the court can dismiss the charges outright or impanel a grand jury to decide if the charges warrant further prosecution. The US justice system is not perfect but name one system that is.

Re:Look at our entire system of prosecution (5, Informative)

Freddybear (1805256) | about a year and a half ago | (#42612063)

US Federal prosecutors have a vast array of methods they can employ to make it difficult for a defendant to exercise his rights. They can freeze assets, making it nearly impossible to hire proper lawyers to present a case. They can "throw the book" at the defendant, listing dozens or hundreds of individual charges which each must be rebutted. They can do massive "document dumps" in the millions of pages to make it extremely difficult for the defendant's legal team to analyze them all. They can use their position to intimidate the defendant's insurers and/or corporations to compel them to withhold legal assistance, as was done in several high-profile white-collar prosecutions. It takes a great deal of money to mount an effective defense against prosecutors with nearly unlimited budgets, as Federal prosecutors are.

And then of course prosecutors have qualified immunity, which means that it is very difficult to make any kind of charges stick against them, no matter how egregious their behavior. We also see this with police officers in the infamous wrong-address SWAT raids.

Re:Look at our entire system of prosecution (5, Insightful)

fredprado (2569351) | about a year and a half ago | (#42612229)

Only 3% of the defendants dop not accept a plea bargain. Do you know why? Because the possible sentences are ridiculous. Decades of punishment for relatively small crimes. In the face of the possibility of spending decades in jail and bankrupting yourself trying to defend your case, chances are you will accept a deal, even if you are innocent.

When was the last time the government (or anyone else for truth's sake) was right 97% of the time? Do you really think US prosecutors are? Isn't it more likely that a lot of innocent people are in jail right now because of this rotten and distorted judicial system?

It is no wonder that US has the highest incarcerated population in the world, per capita and in absolute values. Much more people are caged there than in other "blooming democracies" like China, North Korea or Iran.

Re:Look at our entire system of prosectution (4, Insightful)

fredprado (2569351) | about a year and a half ago | (#42612151)

But the first step for this is accountability, and that require at least some focus on those two. It is past time for public servants to understand they are servants of the public and not our overlords.

Carmen Ortiz and Stephen Heymann are the criminals (2)

phunster (701222) | about a year and a half ago | (#42611517)

Carmen Ortiz and Stephen Heymann should at the very least be prosecuted for misconduct. If in fact the evidence points to that they piled on the charges to enhance their own political careers, after they are dis-barred, they should be prosecuted for murder.

Re:Carmen Ortiz and Stephen Heymann are the crimin (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42611683)

You should probably look up the words "misconduct", "disbarred", and "murder" before commenting on these subjects.

Re:Carmen Ortiz and Stephen Heymann are the crimin (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42611733)

Perhaps you should as well. This is clear misconduct and Ortiz should in fact be disbarred.

Overzealous prosecutors? Say it ain't so! (2)

tjstork (137384) | about a year and a half ago | (#42611531)

I could see prosecutors bringing the heat down on the kid, pushing him over the edge, just to try and score political points...

Re:Overzealous prosecutors? Say it ain't so! (1)

muon-catalyzed (2483394) | about a year and a half ago | (#42611969)

I've thought the for-profit academic publishing industry drones were the puppeteers here, but that's just my wild guess.

Not really: they dropped charges long ago (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42612169)

JSTOR, the company providing access to the documents, dropped the charges, and made many of the documents publicly available. It seems they got the point of Aaron's actions, and acted accordingly.
MIT did not act as decisively, and the prosecutors took it from there. I haven't heard if the prosecutors were leaning on MIT to keep pressing charges, and how they may have been doing that - I hope that information comes out soon.

Scapegoating doesn't achieve anything (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42611549)

Putting the actual tragedy aside; it's great that people are talking about the bully tactics from US prosecution. However people need to understand that this probably is fairly systemic with a system that cares about results more than it cares about justice. It's great that people are discussing the subject, but making an example of two of the players is just a cheap trick that stops people taking a long and hard look at the game thats being played.

Re:Scapegoating doesn't achieve anything (1)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about a year and a half ago | (#42611795)

I disagree.

The prosecutors are moran actors and they actively chose to persecute Swartz beyond any reasonable degree. They could have chosen not to, but instead they acted in an imoral way to further their own career at the expense of the life of another.

They could have easily chosen not to.

Besides, what better way to change the game than to hold the players responsible for their actions?

Re:Scapegoating doesn't achieve anything (0)

cavreader (1903280) | about a year and a half ago | (#42612099)

In this case the responsible person is the one who committed suicide. It is the prosecutor's job to prosecute any crimes submitted to them. The prosecutors don't make the laws or define the penalties. People are using the theoretical penalty maximums to advance their arguments but if this guy was judged guilty he would not have been punished with the maximum penalties. Chances are he would have probably been fined and put on probation. The laws he was charged with breaking do not require the court to hand out jail time upon conviction.

Re:Scapegoating doesn't achieve anything (3, Interesting)

jkrise (535370) | about a year and a half ago | (#42611921)

First, it's not scapegoating. Scapegoating implies the victim is innocent, somebody else did the crime, and the scapegoat merely gets the label of a criminal.

So if the focus falls on 2 over-zealous prosecutors, and their motives proved to be wrong, and they are made an example of, it does not mean they were scapegoats. It means they fully deserved the focus brought to bear on them.
-----------------
"Making example of" is not a 'cheap trick'. Prosecutors do the same. Judges do the same. RIAA/MPAA do the same. They do not prosecute every allegedly guilty party. They make an example of a few, to make it a sufficient deterrent for the rest.

So if two players are indicted for gaming the system for their personal goals, caring little for justice, they should be made an example of. Countless other prosecutors would think 100 times before following the same path.

Don't Prosecute Me, Bro! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42611573)

I'm engaged in suicidal ideation and you'll be sorry!

Yet another shitty law story (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42611587)

When will Slashdot stop running law stories without having a freaking clue what they're talking about? Notice how they almost always end in a leading question--"Should the prosecutors be investigated?" without even proposing any ideas for what the answer to that question might be. Of course, they can't just put the honest answer of "no", despite that there isn't even the slightest hint that they have done anything that violates any law, rule, or professional code, because that would ruin the sensationalist story.

Suicide or not, prosecutors out of control (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42611601)

Let's not use the unknowables of the suicide in a rush to judgement. Let's wind back the clock to the day before Aaron killed himself and ask a very simple question: WTF?! As so many have already pointed out, there are so many individuals involved in so many schemes that have had REAL NEGATIVE CONSEQUENCES that it is just unimaginable that they would have prioritized this case as they had, and that they would be threatening to lock up somebody whose actions were much more like civil disobedience than criminal mischief, and even less like criminal behavior.

When prosecutors prioritize cases based on their ability to really trounce the little guy, rather than to take down the big guy, we have a problem and need a new batch of prosecutors. Aaron's suicide, if it was related, only makes this case the more tragic, but no less relevant.

why yes (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42611611)

Lets just scare a 26 year old into thinking hes going to be forever labeled a felon... This means no job in the IT industry, one heck of a time finding housing, and good luck with quite a few other aspects of life that people take for granted. By the way, you get to do 35 years in PRISON, not jail, PRISON. The place where you either join a gang or get raped.

Ortiz's dipshit husband says "he had a plea bargain for 6 months." Oh sweet, I get to get raped for 6 months instead of 35 years. But also face the whole not ever being able to find a job, and having to live with my parents because no one will rent me a place...

I would have offed myself too. Dear DOJ, go f' yourself.

Re:why yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42611813)

He'd have no trouble getting a job, plenty of startups and small companies don't do background checks and he's sort of famous among geeks. He just wouldn't be getting any more cushy Fellowships at Harvard's Ethics Center.

Martha frickin' Stuart did five months and she didn't kill herself nor have millions of other people who have done time. The guy must have been really sick. Dunno about you though.

Re:why yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42611889)

If he would have no problem getting the job there because they know who he is, then they would know he is a felon. Martha Stuart also has more money than she has brains. She did five months in federal, and since she was a "celeb". She was probably never introduced to the general population. This kid would have had NO special treatment, and would have been someones girlfriend before it was over. You dont know about me thought? I bet you've never even seen the inside of a jail cell, OR a prison cell. Get some experience before you start talking like you've been there done that.

Re:why yes (3, Interesting)

NicBenjamin (2124018) | about a year and a half ago | (#42612041)

Ortiz's dipshit husband says "he had a plea bargain for 6 months." Oh sweet, I get to get raped for 6 months instead of 35 years. But also face the whole not ever being able to find a job, and having to live with my parents because no one will rent me a place...

Does anyone except her actually believe she made that offer? Or that there wasn't some wonderful catch like "50 years of probation during which time you can't touch a computer, and you have to say yes in the next minutes."

You don't charge a guy with a 35-year felony if all you want is six months.

One word.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42611629)

yes.

Look to the White House (-1, Flamebait)

rbmyers (587296) | about a year and a half ago | (#42611649)

1. Don't ever cross or embarrass Barack Obama. 2. Don't use technology, about which he knows nothing except how to pick up the phone and order another drone kill. 3. If you intend to do something illegal, and you failed to give POTUS or his agent hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars in advance, you are going to be in big trouble. And do look at the treatment of Bradley Manning. Can't blame that on Boston prosecutors. "Don 't get mad. Get even," said one of the also Chicago-mob-connected Kennedys. It's how they do business there. This all has little or nothing to do with a couple of twits in Boston and everything to do with President-for-Life Obama, with perhaps the continuation of millions of dollars in defense contracts for MIT Lincoln Labs thrown in.

100,000 signatures needed now. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42611727)

How ironic. Bush3 is worse than Bush1 + Bush2.

Re:Look to the White House (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42612097)

there are so many examples of this, could not agree more.
obama is using the justice dept as his personal goon squad.
that and at the behest of any corporation like golden slackers
who are crucifing a programer they had.

A better tribute (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42611661)

I think a much better tribute to Swartz spirit and memory than retribution would be making some of his goals into reality.
This is a fantastic essay on the subject: http://blogs.swarthmore.edu/burke/2013/01/14/now/
It's well past time for scholarly knowledge to be openly accessible to everyone.

Prosecutors tend to have God complexes generally (5, Insightful)

WOOFYGOOFY (1334993) | about a year and a half ago | (#42611665)

It's a material fact about our criminal justice system that prosecutors put people they know to be innocent away for life. Check out the Innocence Project for the grotesque details.

The reason I bring that up is because it dramatically illustrates the power and fearlessness of ever being called to account that all DAs have. The immunity from any fear of prosecution of their own crimes basically puts them above the law- a fact that doesn't go unnoticed by them. They can literally do anything they want no matter how unbalanced or depraved so long as they can dress it up as prosecutorial "zeal".. They know that the general population doesn't track on the details of cases and ALL families of accused say their prosecution is unjust , so that doesn't matter either. They can do whatever they want, however they want for any reason they want. They suppress exculpatory evidence as a matter of course- basically they play the role of good ole' Buford T Justice where they decide who's guilty and create through whatever means necessary the evidence to prove it.

Try being a minority caught in the clutches of our system. Why do you think so many poor African Americans are so totally checked out, fatalistic, knowing and cynical when it comes to matters of criminal justice? Because they know no one cares if they see anything like justice or not and that there is no real justice or just cause , there's "just us" and "just cuz" for them.

So Aaron got caught in THAT system and the video of him attempting to hide his face with a bike helmet enraged and incensed one of these DAs who had the full cooperation of the sociopaths in the upper administration of MIT.

It's a good reason to never convict / indict anyone for anything that might lead to jail. Jail is basically sado-hell where society throws people it's mad at without a shred or a care about what happens to them in there or when they get out either.

The only people you should ever indict or convict are very violent people who just cannot control themselves and will surely re-offend the first chance they get. Everyone else should walk.

As a side note, it's a fact also that they won't put scientists or programmers on juries because they are too good at thinking up potentially exculpatory alternative hypothesis and more immune to DAs wide-eyed narratives of moral outrage strung together with circumstantial doo-dads and character assassination. Juries are largely composed of retirees and gung ho Law and Order fans.

Just the threat of jail surely turned Aaron around a long time ago. Did that DA give a shit? Oh fuck no- he's bucking for bigger office, a better job, maybe political office. Anyone who puts a bike helmet over his face knows he (age what??? 24?) is doing something naughty , and now, as Lessig said, "we get to nuke you. "

No indictments. No convictions. Not until things change in this fucking country. Fuck you Conn. Fuck you asshole DAs. Too bad you need us to rubber stamp your dirty work before you can kill again. Denied. Denied denied denied denied. Fuck you.

Re:Prosecutors tend to have God complexes generall (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42611719)

It's probably not a good strategy to claim that programmers and scientists aren't allowed on juries on a website full of programmers and scientists, many of whom have served on juries, and even discussed their experiences serving on juries on this site before many times.

Prosecutorial Power (5, Interesting)

tranquilidad (1994300) | about a year and a half ago | (#42611693)

People have a tendency to behave in ways that give them the most recognition, whether that recognition is stature, monetary reward or both.

For whatever reason prosecutors seem to be rewarded based on a win percentage, which is objective, vs. a justice served percentage which is subjective. Combine this reward system with an overcrowded judicial system and we end up with a bastardized incentive system that rewards over-charging suspects and attempting to get the suspect to plead down to a lesser charge. Either the person deserves to be tried for the higher charge or not. Using the potential of serious punishment in order to convince a defendant to accept a lesser charge does not serve justice.

I think Elliott Spitzer was a great example of this type of prosecutorial abuse. He developed a model where he went after many people who had committed no crime but were willing to plead down to lesser crimes to avoid the potential punishment and drawn-out legal process of facing a daunting legal challenge. Spitzer's final year or so when he was getting ready to run for governor was quite disgusting in that there were many people indicted during his run for governorship and the charges were dropped after the election because they weren't fully baked. I've argued that prosecutors should not be allowed to run for another office until at least two years after their last stint as a prosecutor to avoid the conflict of interest associated with running up prosecutorial win rates while running for another office.

I saw Spitzer on his CNN show after his fall from grace and he said as much when he promoted, in order to stop behavior with which he disagreed, of indicting a group of people for a crime. He said that they would never have to get a conviction because the mere threat would be enough to stop the behavior. This is a person willing to abuse his power in order to change the otherwise legal behavior of people with whom he disagreed.

Ted Stevens (Senator Internet Pipes) had prosecutors who were sanctioned and had his conviction overturned as a result. Unfortunately, his conviction was overturned after his death and cost him an election. Whether you liked Senator Internet Pipes or not doesn't change the fact that using federal prosecutors to intimidate citizens is unacceptable.

These aren't the only two cases. I seem to recall a number of prosecutorial misconduct cases over the past few years and it's a crying shame that it continues and costs so much pain for ordinary citizens.

Combine prosecutorial misconduct with the avalanche of new laws and regulations coming our way and we can expect this trend to continue mainly because we never know when we've run afoul of some law or regulation with which we are unfamiliar.

Are you kidding me? (0, Troll)

EmagGeek (574360) | about a year and a half ago | (#42611709)

The logical conclusion of this absurd line of reasoning is that we should not charge criminals for violating the law if doing so might make them feel bad about themselves.

It's the absurdity of our public education system (can't fail a kid if it might damage their self-esteem) expanded into absurdity in the application and enforcement of the law.

Re:Are you kidding me? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42611793)

No, the logical conclusion is that the prosecutors should not over-trump their charges against and individual in the hopes of ruining said individuals life for their own political gain and if they do they should be held accountable for their actions. Please do continue to perpetuate the myth that the justice system and law enforcement can do no wrong.

Petition to remove Carmen Ortiz (already met and exceeded the required signatures)
https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/remove-united-states-district-attorney-carmen-ortiz-office-overreach-case-aaron-swartz/RQNrG1Ck

Petition to fire Steve Heymann
https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/fire-assistant-us-attorney-steve-heymann/RJKSY2nb

Re:Are you kidding me? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42612013)

You are such a fucking moron it's not even funny. This is basically the equivalent of you having a library, you catch me photocopying books and kick me out. I come back and do it again, using a disguise or a side entry. At this point you call the police and they arrest me for trespassing. This is a minor charge that almost never results in jail time. Instead, because it was electronic somehow that trespass he committed is worth 30 years to the prosecutor. SO, what the hell are you talking about. The prosecutor was already knowingly going to ruin this guys life over trivial bullshit, the "victim" in this case wanted the charges dropped. Now you add the fact that he knew the guy was a suicide risk? He's not fit to be a prosecutor. YES, things like medical conditions are sometimes terminal illnesses (as his depression turned out to be) are taken into account when sentencing: and thank god. If not it'd be even more of a ridiculous one size fits all drive thru of pain and suffering. I hope you voice your inane bullshit opinions in public and get your nose broken. Account: ers88.

"Making an example" (5, Interesting)

meta-monkey (321000) | about a year and a half ago | (#42611749)

The prosecutors brought charges far out of proportion with the "crime" of...downloading a bunch of papers in order to "set an example" for other people who might want to do something on computer networks they don't understand yet somehow find threatening.

This seems to happen a lot. Massive overreactions to harmless pranks. Say something critical about the TSA or the FBI online and get put on some watch list for being a "cyberterrorist." Change your MAC address and download some freely available research papers and get 35 years and a million dollar fine for "hacking."

Perhaps it's time another example were made. Hey prosectors and government dipshits: if you don't start employing some common sense, then you're going to lose your career.

Fire 'em. Make an example out of them.

Prosecutors persecuting people to advance the pros (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42611757)

Prosecutors persecuting people to advance the prosecutor's career? Say it ain't so!

Two down, one two go (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42611761)

Having bullied JSTOR and MIT into submission now the angry netizens are going for the prosecutor for making the mistake of charging an extremely popular "activist." JSTOR caved easily to bad publicity, MIT less so, but the feds skin are pretty thick.

Government ran amok (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42611767)

Who would ever have guessed that the people we entrusted with the monopoly on law enforcement would grow so powerful as to spend more resources persecuting innocent people for victimless (state) crimes than appropriately pursue those who have actual violated the property of private citizens?

Do you tell yourself we just need the right government? How about no government?

Judicial ombudsman (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42611797)

Does the US have some government-run place where complaints (including anonymous, whistle-blow type things) can be made against the government itself? My guess is it does, but it probably is ineffective.

oh really...? (0)

slick7 (1703596) | about a year and a half ago | (#42611811)

Suicide sounds like the black ops code for neutralization. With all the gun control talk going around, it's difficult to determine the good guys from the bad. That which is done in darkness will surely come to the light. The truth will set you free but, it will first piss you off.

dude caught dude died (1)

turkeydance (1266624) | about a year and a half ago | (#42611829)

old story. Biblical.

Blame the friends (0)

jgarry (126205) | about a year and a half ago | (#42611847)

I think we should blame the enablers who say hactivism is a good thing and convinced Aaron that placing devices in a network closet to steal information was somehow a good thing.

Bad hackers. Bad, bad hackers.

6 months for a publicity stunt (-1, Flamebait)

SuperBanana (662181) | about a year and a half ago | (#42611857)

He was offered 6 months. He refused the plea deal.

He trespassed onto MIT property, into an MIT building (while purposefully hiding his face), into a network closet, where he then installed a machine and stole power+data for several months (don't blow this off, people - looked at colo prices lately?) He intentionally avoided identifying himself through MIT's network registration portal. He rotated MAC addresses to prevent being barred from DHCP and from having his equipment located.

JSTOR had to block a range of MIT addresses, which cut off researchers at part of MIT.Aaron worked around it. So JSTOR had to block ALL of MIT.

When they weren't blocking him, he was impacting JSTOR services because he was pulling articles at such a high rate. Even then, it wasn't enough for him - he bought a second machine and used it to also pull down material, which caused JSTOR servers to crash.

Despite this, Aaron kept pushing. He knew he was harming others, he knew he was harming JSTOR, and he selfishly prioritized his 'activism' over it. So the guy who was supposedly for freedom of information was actually crippling access for SEVEN THOUSAND institutions. He was a speed bump for scientific process for three months.

If you plan to do something and act in a way proving you know it's not permitted, cause harm and then continue anyway - yes, you fully deserve to get hauled into court and held accountable. If you can't do the time, don't do the fucking crime. Don't physically trespass, don't steal resources, don't harm system that don't belong to you, don't prevent others from accessing services they paid for, etc.

JSTOR is a not-for-profit, by the way - and they're not a "paywall", they're a library which stores, catalogs, indexes, and makes available electronically, journals. Which costs money, because it involves equipment, power, people, etc. How would you feel if you worked there as a sysadmin, and some activist was crashing your servers to Free Teh Researches? And your boss was pissed because you didn't seem to be able to stop it? And you had to spend money out of a limited budget on equipment? Or time dealing with it, instead of patching servers, or working on deploying a feature, etc?

How about the MIT network people, who were trying to chase down some asshole who was forcing JSTOR to block their researchers?

Congratulations, everyone. You've let Lessig and Aaron's family shift the debate away from all the obnoxious things Aaron did, and play him as the victim.

There were a dozen ways someone with his talent, public platform, and industry connections could have done to improve access to academic literature. He didn't. He did a LOOK AT ME EVERYBODY publicity stunt that harmed thousands and required virtually no effort, talent, thought, or skill - and had virtually no practical application. Vomiting hundreds of gigabytes of academic papers on The Pirate Bay doesn't doesn't solve any of the issues around freeing up academic research or help the flow of information.

Re:6 months for a publicity stunt (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42612021)

"You've let Lessig and Aaron's family shift the debate away from all the obnoxious things Aaron did, and play him as the victim."

If you face 35 years in prison for certain actions, I can almost guarantee that the prosecution won't use the word "obnoxious" to describe your alleged crimes. If the crimes allegedly committed can be described as "obnoxious", they are almost certainly misdemeanors. Hence, the point.

Re:6 months for a publicity stunt (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42612133)

Oh my gosh. The maximum possible sentence is not the actual sentence. In this case, he was frankly given a very generous plea bargain with a 6 month sentence, which he means he would actually be released in 3 months if he behaved in prison (which is doubtful, given that he was an immature brat).

Re:6 months for a publicity stunt (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42612145)

the 6 months included pleading guilty to 13 felonies! who in their right mind would accept that.

ah... no (2)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a year and a half ago | (#42611899)

After Aaron Swartz's Death, the Focus Now Falls On the Prosecutors

The general public has almost knollege of this case. There is no focus what-so-ever, much less on the prosecutors of this case.

Journalists and commentators are now questioning the role of Massachusetts prosecutors Carmen Ortiz and Stephen Heymann in the suicide of Aaron Swartz

Journalists were uninterested in this case until a young man killed himself. Now that they've written their stories and cashed their checks, they'll go back to not caring.

and whether they levied disproportionate charges in order to boost their own political profiles, despite being warned he was a suicide risk.

Of course they did, that's their job. They don't get moved ahead in their career by being fair and measured in their approach.

Meanwhile White House petitions to remove Ortiz and Heymann have already received tens of thousands of signatures.

The Whitehouse has already shown, numerous times that the petition site is a joke. They do not care, unless the petition in question is regarding one of their current policy bullet points. Freedom of the internet, and information in general, is in no way something this, or any administration is interested in.

Should these prosecutors be investigated for their actions regarding Swartz?"

They are lawyers, and Prosecutors, they are horrible horrible people. We all know this. What else should they be investigated for? This sort of thing happens every day, all the time, and it's totally legal. We've put sociopaths in charge of our legal system. This is the result.

I know that the OP wanted to make it appear like the general public suddenly had an interest in justice, the rule of law, fairness, and any number of other noble things. But they don't. They are interested Facebook, impressing their friends and their own insular problems. Comfort has made us weak.

Vote for Justice (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42611953)

Petition [whitehouse.gov] to remove United States District Attorney Carmen Ortiz from office.

Criminal Justice System in USA is FUBAR (4, Insightful)

PerMolestiasEruditio (1118269) | about a year and a half ago | (#42611965)

The criminal justice system in the USA appears to be almost entirely geared towards extracting more tax money to pay for bigger and more heavily populated prisons and building name recognition for politicians and prosecutors, and as a result is paying a colossal and unnecessary and is a world wide laughing stock. I and a lot of my friends would not consider living in the USA as a result of this Criminal-Justice system run amok, scary thuggish police, (dreadfully overpriced yet widely inaccessible health care system is also another black mark).

The Criminal-Justice system needs to be reformed towards delivering the best results for society as a whole, not venal special interest groups. Disqualify anyone within the Criminal Justice industry (prosecutors, police, guards) from running for public office for at least a few years after they end employment, also disallow campaign contributions from private prisons, and guard+police unions.

There are deeper issues here (4, Informative)

stox (131684) | about a year and a half ago | (#42611971)

Our Federal legal system has gottent out of control. The laws have become too complex and convoluted for a layman to understand and the penalties have become way too large. There is a reason that less than 1 in 40 Federal prosecutions even make it to a court. The prosecutors make it almost impossible not to take a plea deal.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/26/us/tough-sentences-help-prosecutors-push-for-plea-bargains.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0 [nytimes.com]

I really can't fault Carmen Ortiz and Stephen Heymann, their behavior is what the current system demands.

Don't forget abuse by Wikipedia admins (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42611993)

Wikipedia admins bullied him too. In fact many budding young scientists have had their careers ruined due to Wikipedia ruining their citation reliablity skills

obama holder administration exceptionally brutal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42612057)

Toward any private citizen who steeps out of line. Any one who thinks this is unique to this prosecutor has not been paying attention. look at the gs programmer they are tying to put in jail for 10 years!

let remember obama put riaa layers (blackmailers) on his staff.

Signed it (1)

m.dillon (147925) | about a year and a half ago | (#42612067)

After some thought I decided to sign the White House petition. Honestly, I don't expect a whole lot of actual justice from our system, though I won't go as far as to call it corrupt beyond redemption. But insofar as we the people have a voice, perhaps some small measure of justice can be squeezed out of this particular case. "Justice" clearly wasn't high up on their list of reasons for pursuing the case. The prosecutors involved and their teams deserve jail time themselves for their vindictive, intentional destruction of someone's life.

-Matt

Ortiz and Heymann petitions still short of 100,000 (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42612121)

GIven that the threshhold for new petitions is set at 100,000 signatures, what do you think will happen if these petitions fall short. Ortiz is currently only 38,000 and Heymann only 6,000.

People will make political hay out of this unless these petitions exceed 100,000 signatures. Once the number of signatures goes beyond 100,000, the Whitehouse is forced to make a more serious response, and Ortiz cannot dismiss this as a "few malcontents". Tell your friends to register to vote on whitehouse.gov and sign the petitions. It is time to STOP the slippery slope of American government towards 1930's style practices in Germany and the Soviet Union. Don't believe it is getting that bad? Then read up on what was happening in Germany and the Soviet Union prior to the outbreak of war. People who do not learn and understand history end up recreating the same events that happened previously.

P.S. the federal vendetta against Aaron Swartz was all political. He was seen as a supporter of political movements that they would love to outlaw, and perhaps soon will outlaw, if the people do not make their voices heard. In the Internet era, petitions on whitehouse gov are the new way to make your voice heard, but the old ways (talk to your senate rep and congressional rep) are still good too.

US "Justice" (1)

Falconhell (1289630) | about a year and a half ago | (#42612203)

This is why civilised countries dont have elections for judges and prosecutors.

Consequences (4, Interesting)

EmperorOfCanada (1332175) | about a year and a half ago | (#42612207)

There need to be consequences for prosecutors who abuse their positions.This could be done mathematically. One abuse is when prosecutors level massive charges with the goal of pleading them down. Thus there could be a maximum ratio of charges laid vs convictions/pleas on those exact charges. Another abuse is the investigation itself. So there could be a maximum investigation to conviction ratio. Also there could be a maximum time for an investigation. If someone is investigated for years and years the drain on them is nasty. So it should require a judge's approval to continue an investigation past a certain amount of time. For a crime boss this could be a great long time but for some dumb computer case it should be 30 days or less.

When consequences kick in there should be both penalties to the prosecutor and benefits to the investigated. Much like the double jeopardy if you charge someone with something serious that you can't make stick it should then be impossible to convict them in revenge on a minor related crime. So if you charge some hacker with RICO and massive fraud but can't make it stick you can't then convict him in revenge for mail fraud because he filled out some form wrong.

Then there is the prosecutor. If these ratios are passed by a certain amount the prosecutor should immediately be suspended and their continued employment up for review. Pass the ratios again and game over they lose their job.

The last option should also be that the defense can have a single prosecutor removed and assigned to a random other prosecutor. This way the "career making" cases are then less about politics and more about justice.
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