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Prosecution of Swartz Typical for the "Sick Culture" Pervading the DOJ

Unknown Lamer posted about a year and a half ago | from the on-second-thought-let's-ruin-your-life dept.

The Courts 443

tukang writes "According to a report in the Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, State prosecutors had planned to let Swartz off with a warning and Swartz would not have faced any criminal proceedings or prison time had it not been for the decision of Carmen Ortiz's office to intervene and take over the case." Although the CNET article focuses on Aaron Swartz's particular case, the original article calls attention to general abuse of power within the DOJ: "It seems never to have occurred to Ortiz, nor to the career prosecutors in her office in charge of the prosecution, Stephen Heymann and Scott Garland, that there is something wrong with overcharging, and then raising the ante, merely to wring a guilty plea to a dubious statute. Nor does it occur generally to federal prosecutors that there’s something wrong with bringing prosecutions so complex that they are guaranteed to bankrupt all but the wealthiest. These tactics have become so normal within the Department of Justice that few who operate within the bowels of this increasingly corrupt system can even see why it is corrupt. Even most journalists, who are supposedly there to tell truth to power, no longer see what’s wrong and even play cheerleader."

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An old saying. (5, Insightful)

kurt555gs (309278) | about a year and a half ago | (#42723561)

Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Re:An old saying. (-1, Offtopic)

safrinanoor (2793167) | about a year and a half ago | (#42723645)

"Swartz would not have faced any criminal proceedings or prison time" yes it is true because Aaron Swartz had planned to let him off with a stern warning, but federal prosecutor Carmen Ortiz took over..... http://x.co/sfEV [x.co]

Re:An old saying. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42723689)

I'm also very disappointed by MIT's treatment of the man. It makes me sick actually to think what his university did to him.

I know that this is MIT's management, and not necessarily academic staff, but to do this is disgusting.

Re:An old saying. (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42723795)

I don't think he was a student at MIT. He just got in to one of their data closets.

Swartz was a research fellow at Harvard University, which provided him with a JSTOR account; additionally, visitors to MITâ(TM)s "open campus" were authorized to access JSTOR via the campus network.[47] The authorities say Swartz downloaded the documents through a laptop connected to a networking switch in a controlled-access wiring closet at MIT.[48][49][50][51] -wiki

Re:An old saying. (4, Informative)

Weezul (52464) | about a year and a half ago | (#42724221)

MIT has an intentionally open wifi setup, like everyone should.

We're having trouble with the fire Stephen Heymann petition [whitehouse.gov] , only like 10k signature out of the needed 25k.

What do people think we should do? Start a second more well written and informative petition perhaps?

So much for democracy then (5, Insightful)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | about a year and a half ago | (#42723701)

In a democracy, the power is supposed to lie with the voter. The voter has power, indeed absolute power to change the leadership every so many years and in the US even sooner because isn't that why you got so many guns... and therefor, the voter is corrupt. Nice.

The simple fact is that while a LOT of people claim outrage at this case, a LOT of people ALSO want a though stance by the justice system on OTHER peoples offenses. Hang'em all and let god sort them out is a significant voting group.

An even BIGGER group of voters is "hang em all" "oh my god, you slapped his wrist, how mean!". It is a lucrative market to serve as the media, write a story about how soft the system is on hardened criminals then a story about how hard the system is on misunderstood people and you got your readership nice and enraged and yet feeling like they are caring people after all.

The DOJ YOU got is the system your society wants. Don't believe me? Nothing has actually been changed with regards to JSTOR and its policies has it. MIT hasn't stopped working with them. Academia still submit their papers to it don't they? Everybody is having a good little cry and a nice outrage at the system and then all back on our hamster wheel part of the big machine just like before.

It reminds me of Munich. How many seconds was the collecting of wealth and fame halted after the slaughter? Did a single athlete say "no this isn't right, I won't continue". In the Tour de France at least if there is some event like a rider who died, the other riders do symbolic things like letting the affected team win or ride across the finish line as a group rather then in a race. Sometimes... if the stakes aren't to high.

How many people/organizations have declared to STOP using JSTOR or to keep themselves associated with MIT? Have many MIT students have stopped going?

People forget that oppression isn't just a person at the top going "send him down", it is an entire support system beneath it. If you want to be nice it is "good men doing nothing" but mostly it is "selfish people not doing anything unless it benefits them and even then only if it doesn't take to much effort". You might blame the Klan for segregation laws in the deep south (see how neatly I avoided mentioning the nazi's and a godwin?) but that doesn't explain how easily it was implemented and supported. Every bus driver, every shop owner, every person who went into a whites only area. Did you push YOUR granddad in the face for being part of it? No? So you think the DOJ should be punished for prosecuting a criminal but racism is okay?

Life is hard, fighting the good fight all the time is FUCKING hard. Lessig is one person who does it easily by doing the fighting through proxies and getting his proxies lumbered with million dollar punishments or until a depressed young man kills himself. How many cheered Swartz on and how many gave a depressed suicidal guy a shoulder to lean on? I sure as hell didn't. I am taking the easy way out. I know this of myself and just avoid looking at myself in the mirror. SAME AS YOU!

You can convince me differently if for instance there had been a "Spartacus" event where a lot of MIT students had copied the mass download. There wasn't. If students had left MIT. They didn't. If Academia had stopped using JSTOR. They didn't. If there had been ANY action beyond a few cheap speeches.

It is even more hilarious to read articles denouncing the DOJ on this subject matter when such sites are heavy supporters of copyright and have in the past attempted to restrict fair use of their own content.

I predict that NOTHING will change. The reason is simple, NOBODY cares. Well not enough. The next election will be about taxes and employment once again and the people will vote for the guy they think is best for them (or for Romney voters, better for that rich guy they never met and will never be) and copyright is just not a big enough issue to figure in election results yet. Hell, the US doesn't even have a green party of any note. In the EU it took decades for them to get any power and the moment the economy takes a hit, it is back to the old parties in a flash.

Right now in The Netherlands the big news is that the queen is abdicating. And my god does it show how right Terry Pratchett was when he has Vimes comment that people have a weakness in their knees. Her mother married a nazi collaborator, she married a kraut and when her son couldn't find a nazi bitch, he got himself the daughter of a war criminal and a SOCIALIST prime-minister told everyone it was okay and for the last decade the entire country has pointedly ignored increasing evidence her father was not just knowledgable of human right atrocities but was part of it.

In a democracy, there should be no place for royalty especially such known corrupt (financially and morally) royalty. But the bootlicking is sickening to see. People don't really LIKE democracy, they want someone to be in charge and as long as it is not them getting it in the ass, they don't mind if someone else does it. Well not enough to do anything about it.

That is how corrupt regimes survive. People look the other way. They might whine a bit but won't do anything and when it has died down, things continue as before.

Right on this site there MUST be MIT students and JSTOR users/contributors. Proof me wrong. Has a SINGLE one of you taken ANY steps at all in protest?

No?

Then you voted FOR the system and are just upset some blood spatters showed up when someone was caught in its gears. But you ARE what powers the gears.

Re:So much for democracy then (1, Redundant)

Genda (560240) | about a year and a half ago | (#42723779)

Its so strange you should be having this conversation now. Apathy has this nation by the throat. It takes time to become this apathetic, spirit broken, cynical, resigned. It takes having your dreams squashed, beliefs shattered and dreams abandoned. And lie after lie after lie. On the way home I heard a public service announcement. To date 6,000,000 children have died from AIDs worldwide, all innocent victims of the epidemic. That is more children than in all the preschools and kindergartens and grade schools and High-schools in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington, Atlanta and Miami combined. Apathy is lethal. This is a preventable disease. Go to apathyislethal.org.

"All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to stand by and do nothing" -- Edmund Burke

Re:So much for democracy then (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42723831)

I think we're all very likely to confuse differing priorities for concern and action, with apathy.

You might think I was apathetic about AIDS in Africa. I'm not,exactly. With the limited amount of lifetime, useable time, exposure, and resources, I can only learn about, care about, and do something about a limited things that cause suffering. You have the same problem.

So in your estimation, AIDS in Africa is somewhere near the top of your list. That's good. Maybe for me it comes well after a long list of things that affect people I know or am more likely to know. That's not me being intentionally cold and apathetic, it's just what it is to be human.

In other news, I have to get to sleep, so I can go work tomorrow, to pay a mortgage and feed a couple of kids.

Re:So much for democracy then (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42723989)

I think we're all very likely to confuse differing priorities for concern and action, with apathy.

If someone thinks other issues are more important than everyone's freedoms getting violated by the TSA on a daily basis, I can only conclude that they're either evil or just naive and highly unintelligent. However, there are people who don't seem to care at all.

Re:So much for democracy then (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42724167)

Your freedom ends at my nose. People's freedom ends at making bombs.
Yes, there are indeed limits to freedom, and yes, there are more pressing issues in the world today than freedom.

Re: So much for democracy then (1)

Eskarel (565631) | about a year and a half ago | (#42724307)

Maybe I think that getting felt up by the TSA on the rare occasions I fly is at worst a minor inconvenience not some fundamental loss of freedom.
The Republican governor of my home state trying to make the electoral college votes if my home state proportional by voting district so 40% of the population get 80% of the vote is a bit more concerning and more if a threat to freedom, but disenfranchising half the population of a large number of swing states and rigging the presidential election for the foreseeable future is way less of a problem than having to wait half an hour to fly.

Re:So much for democracy then (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42723879)

the problem is, people like Carmen Ortiz are unelected officials who have a lot of power to wield.

Doesnt matter who we vote for, the real power is in being in an unelected position where you can step outside the normal bounds of power.

Re:So much for democracy then (0)

jklovanc (1603149) | about a year and a half ago | (#42724195)

Doesnt matter who we vote for, the real power is in being in an unelected position where you can step outside the normal bounds of power.

The interesting thing is that one votes for the person appointing the United States Attorney, the President, and the people confirming the appointment, the Senate. One of the reasons for this is so that federal law is not applied differently in different parts of the country. If Federal attorneys were elected locally they would be unduly influenced by local considerations leading to a patchwork of enforcement. One does not have to vote for everything for a system to be democratic. That is why we vote for representatives who work on our behalf.

Re:So much for democracy then (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42724029)

I don't know about the US ( being European ) , but people do care. Most people simply believe the system is too corrupt to be changed.
And that's how bureaucracy works : make it so hard to change anything, that most people give up.

All we have left is posting angry messages on slashdot. I wonder what happens when they take that away. Just a matter of time ...

BUT, It didn't start OUT that way (5, Insightful)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | about a year and a half ago | (#42724211)

Government, especially the western style democracies didn't happen by magic. They were won by people who believed they could change the system and did. Once there were monarchs who rule, now they just collect a massive wage for not doing much at all. So our ancestors did not create a perfect society but they did improve society.

But now for everyone who cares, there are far more who want to keep the status quo. See the bitter hatred targetted at Julian Assange, Stallman, the whole wallstreet protests. The elite don't need to attack their enemies, the plebs will happily do it for them. Rock the boat and you will be thrown overboard by the slaves.

Oh we disguise our attacks behind claiming we want our heroes to be perfect. Oddly enough NOT something we demand of celebrities in other fields. Just that if you dare to suggest a small way in which the world could be made a better place, you better be holier then the pope and then you will be slammed for being to holy.

People REALLY do not like change, they can tolerate a LOT of badness if just it means they don't have to think, act or take a side.

And it is that way that tyrants rise to power. There is no need for a secret world government and such nonsense conspiracies. All it needs is for everyone to look away.

Trust me, I know. I am doing it myself. Just the daily drain of life has indeed made me give up. The little hamster wheel is all I want after all. Sad. BUT that is MY fault. Not the fault of anyone else. I gave up doesn't mean you should. But I can understand why people like Swartz buckle under the pressure and the people who claim his as their champion should ask whether they overloaded the guy or not. Let Lessig face a long jail time, maybe then his legal cases will actually be good and not wishful thinking.

Oh wait, accusing Lessig of not being perfect am I. Told you I had given up.

Re:An old saying. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42723759)

Another effect might be that people quite often replace their personal ethics with job ethics while on the job, regardless of what their job is. They conform to the prevalent culture, and of course play their part in shaping the culture and ethics. The people you work with are always closer to you than the outsiders who are influenced by (the way you do) your work. We have a financial crisis because banks have developed a greed culture and stopped working for their customers. It seems to me many corporations work for shareholders and bonuses and not for customers (the idea of adding value in a market seems to have been replaced with viewing customers as sheep that need to be manipulated into buying things). It can happen in any organization. People who are ambitious career hunters are more likely to go wrong.

I think it was Robert Hare (expert on psychopaths) who informally defined sociopaths as people who behave without concience or empathy to people outside their peer group, but are perfectly normal within that group. In contrast, psychopaths are always ruthless. Gang members may be typical sociopaths. It would be wise to recognise that the effect can occur in any organization, including the DOJ.

A question everyone should ask themselves on a regular basis: is wat I'm doing to the people my organization interacts with something I would do to my friends, and would I like others to do it to me? If the answer is 'no' you have forgotten those others are people too. An important aspect of a civilized society is that we consider everyone to be a member of the same large group.

Power is not the issue, mentality is (5, Insightful)

golodh (893453) | about a year and a half ago | (#42724021)

There isn't all that much wrong with the powers accorded the DOJ.

The key issue (that I see) can lead to abuse is the widespread phenomenon of 'plea bargaining'.

It is this mechanism that provides an incentive for the DOJ to heap unreasonable amounts of far-fetched charges on a single suspect. The sole objective is to render it unattractive for the suspect to let the case come to court and thereby pressure the suspect into copping to specific charges.

There are two reasons to do this. The first is based solely on cost reasons (as with most decisions in the US), as in: it's costly to prosecute and it's cheap to file charges. If you can get suspects to plead guilty and accept the penalties, you've handled a case cost-effectively.

The second reason is that people have sought for means to make things sufficient hot for extreme cases (like e.g. mafia bosses) who are likely to shrug off most charges that can be proven against them beyond reasonable doubt. For such cases people saw fit to impose totally disproportionate penalties for relatively innocuous offenses.

Unfortunately this practice has been adopted for general use, specifically for serving as a deterrent against law-breaking by increasing the perceived risk of law-breaking. As in :

perceived risk = probability of capture x potential penalty

In the Middle Ages they used torture, mutilation, branding and suchlike to up the potential penalty to "deterrent values". Nowadays we use disproportional (and crippling) fines and equally disproportionate (and equally crippling) prison sentences for the same purpose.

People who complain ought to realise that this setup is very 'American' in nature and that it continues to exist only because a majority doesn't think it worth changing this aspect of the system.

Of course the whole thing can be changed: simply lower maximum penalties to proportionate values and invest (much) more money in increasing the probability of getting caught in order to keep the perceived risk of lawbreaking constant. It's completely feasible, but expensive.

Only people here don't want to hear that: they (collectively) prefer to destroy the odd individual in order to maintain the balance of terror on part of the law by the cheapest means available.

It's a choice (if a callous one), and it has nothing whatsoever to do with awarding the DOJ "too much power", let alone with the DOJ being ''corrupted by power". The DOJ simply does what it's told to do ... by the outcomes of a democratic process. If you don't like it, then have it changed.

Dual justice systems (4, Insightful)

starworks5 (139327) | about a year and a half ago | (#42723563)

How else can you hold up the charade of a dual track justice system, if some people are hunted down by the authorities with extreme prejudice, and at the same time others are too powerful to fail, you create an illusion of order and safety and create bogeymen to keep people in fear.

Honest journalism? Really? (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42723573)

'Even most journalists, who are supposedly there to tell truth to power'. Tell that to the jounalists of Fox News!

Re:Honest journalism? Really? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42723593)

Journalists of Fox News...

You're a funny one.

Re:Honest journalism? Really? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42723769)

Or any of the news channels. They are all liars.

...and justice for all (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42723583)

Halls of Justice Painted Green, Money Talking
Power Wolves Beset Your Door, Hear Them Stalking
Soon You'll Please Their Appetite, They Devour
Hammer of Justice Crushes You, Overpower

The Ultimate in Vanity
Exploiting Their Supremacy
I Can't Believe the Things You Say
I Can't Believe
I Can't Believe the Price You Pay
Nothing Can Save You

Justice Is Lost
Justice Is Raped
Justice Is Gone
Pulling Your Strings
Justice Is Done
Seeking No Truth
Winning Is All
Find it So Grim
So True
So Real

Apathy Their Stepping Stone, So Unfeeling
Hidden Deep Animosity, So Deceiving
Through Your Eyes Their Light Burns, Hoping to Find
Inquisition Sinking You, With Prying Minds

The Ultimate in Vanity
Exploiting Their Supremacy
I Can't Believe the Things You Say
I Can't Believe
I Can't Believe the Price You Pay
Nothing Can Save You

Justice Is Lost
Justice Is Raped
Justice Is Gone
Pulling Your Strings
Justice Is Done
Seeking No Truth
Winning Is All
Find it So Grim
So True
So Real

Lady Justice Has Been Raped, Truth Assassin
Rolls of Red Tape Seal Your Lips, Now You're Done in
Their Money Tips Her Scales Again, Make Your Deal
Just What Is Truth? I Cannot Tell, Cannot Feel

The Ultimate in Vanity
Exploiting Their Supremacy
I Can't Believe the Things You Say
I Can't Believe
I Can't Believe the Price We Pay
Nothing Can Save Us

Justice Is Lost
Justice Is Raped
Justice Is Gone
Pulling Your Strings
Justice Is Done
Seeking No Truth
Winning Is All
Find it So Grim
So True
So Real

Seeking No Truth
Winning Is All
Find it So Grim
So True
So Real

Borrowing money (1, Insightful)

musikit (716987) | about a year and a half ago | (#42723587)

How many of you did similar things when you were a kid? you want $10 from mom..."mom can i have $50", "umm no", "ok $25", "no", "$10", "ok"

it should be illegal via sentencing the prosecutor to the maximum sentence of the charged crime for charging someone with a crime only to inflate charges.

Re:Borrowing money (4, Interesting)

wisty (1335733) | about a year and a half ago | (#42723867)

It's how the plea bargaining system is.

The US has decided that the 6th Amendment was a bad idea. That jury trials just aren't worth it. The only way to strip criminals of their rights is by "rewarding" them, by dropping some of the charges. And since dropping reasonable charges will be too soft on criminals, you have to keep increasing sentencing guidelines.

Plea bargains and accumulation of sentences (3, Interesting)

jopsen (885607) | about a year and a half ago | (#42723889)

it should be illegal via sentencing the prosecutor to the maximum sentence of the charged crime for charging someone with a crime only to inflate charges.

Yes, that'll keep prosecutors from charging anybody with anything serious... how is that good?
Lessig said it "proportionality", I think that should apply both ways.

That said plea bargains are absurd.
Either you did the crime and you do the time, or you didn't.

Maybe countries don't have plea bargains, and usually only for minor offences.

Another bug, in you system is the idea that if you're guilty of two crimes, you the sentences will be accumulated.
In many other countries, the judge must make an overall sentence based on what is fair.
Accumulated sentences is just about throwing away the key.

Re:Plea bargains and accumulation of sentences (1)

TheLink (130905) | about a year and a half ago | (#42724281)

I've seen some cases where in my opinion it's actually one incident - but they split it into multiple crimes.

While it doesn't get as absurd as you speeding for 5 minutes and getting 300 speeding tickets for each second you were over the limit (and thus your license revoked), it's still unfair.

what (5, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year and a half ago | (#42723589)

Even most journalists, who are supposedly there to tell truth to power,

I just want a journalist to tell me what happened. Do some research, so I can read it, because I don't have time to do it all myself. I don't want reporters to shove their ideology and viewpoint at me. That's what editorial pages are for.

Re:what (0)

bloodhawk (813939) | about a year and a half ago | (#42723631)

Even most journalists, who are supposedly there to tell truth to power,

I just want a journalist to tell me what happened. Do some research, so I can read it, because I don't have time to do it all myself. I don't want reporters to shove their ideology and viewpoint at me. That's what editorial pages are for.

^this, nowadays it is impossible to trust most articles as every reporter or wannabe reporter thinks part of writing an article is giving there own personal spin on the facts to push their personal viewpoints. I will take the dry facts without the bullshit anyday compared to the shit most journalists publish.

Re:what (5, Interesting)

vlad30 (44644) | about a year and a half ago | (#42723847)

I think when they started calling themselves journalists they knew they dropped quality :- note the definitions

journal - Noun

1. A newspaper or magazine that deals with a particular subject or professional activity.

2. A personal record of occurrences, experiences, and reflections kept on a regular basis; a diary.

report - Noun

1. An account presented usually in detail.

2. A formal account of the proceedings or transactions of a group.

Journalists give personal opinions Reporters give detailed facts

Re:what (4, Informative)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a year and a half ago | (#42723633)

Doesn't happen so much any more. Journalists are under far greater time pressure than they once were - editors expect them to write more in less time, to satisfy our new 24-hour news culture. Investigative journalism is a very time-consuming process and can take weeks or months to produce a story. So it has been largely abandoned in favor of a form of 'production line' news which focuses on just collecting quotes and getting them broadcast as quickly as possible.

Re:what (0)

muon-catalyzed (2483394) | about a year and a half ago | (#42723823)

What happened? He downloaded some papers from the public library in an automated fashion and shared them for his colleagues. Criminal proceedings for violating a public library website terms? But who is surprised? This is a country where even a monkey can buy assault weapons. 50 million people without health insurance. NASA under axe while half of the nation's HDP is funneled to the war machine..

Re:what (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42723965)

That's terrible, biased, outright false reporting. You'll fit right in!

Um, no (5, Informative)

Grashnak (1003791) | about a year and a half ago | (#42724077)

What happened? He downloaded some papers from the public library in an automated fashion and shared them for his colleagues.

Sure, if by "some" you mean "4+ million", by "public library" you mean "a private datastore" and by "in an automated fashion" you mean "by sneaking into a computer room and illicitly connecting to the network".

I'm disgusted by the DOJ charges too, but people like you who try and gloss over the facts of what he was doing are just making the rest of us look bad. The DOJ response was ridiculous even given what he actually did. No need to pretend he was just innocently downloading a couple of papers from Gizmodo...

Re:what (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year and a half ago | (#42724343)

_planned_ to share them to colleagues.

Double Standard (-1, Flamebait)

zippo01 (688802) | about a year and a half ago | (#42723601)

We have such a double standard in this country. We scream when a person who is charged with a crime, makes a choice and takes their life because they where charged with a crime, that we are to tough. The next day we scream when another person charged with the same or a different crime gets off or only gets a light sentence. It is all subjective to the individual. What do you find important, right or wrong. I have no problem with them stacking charges, as long as they can show cause. The court system is already backed up, could you imagine if every charge when to trial. Nothing would ever get done, and most important people would complain (louder then ever before) about being called for jury duty all the time. You can't blame others, for the choice of an individual to take their life. If you do, where does the blame end? It wouldn't...

Re:Double Standard (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42723639)

I have no problem with them stacking charges, as long as they can show cause. The court system is already backed up, could you imagine if every charge when to trial.

Showing cause isn't the same things as proving guilt though, and if you stack the charges you're massively loading the consequences if the person actually tries to prove their innocence. Like the summary points out, the issue here is that many "prosecutions (are) so complex that they are guaranteed to bankrupt all but the wealthiest". This isn't justice, it's more or less blackmail: "We reckon we can charge you with a ridiculous number of tenuously linked crimes. If you try to fight it it'll bankrupt you, and our fancy-pants legal shenanigans will ensure you'll probably do time for something anyway, so why don't you save us all the bother by admitting your guilt in this plea bargain...".

If the court system is backed up that's a reason to either streamline the system or expand it, not to circumvent what is meant to be the point of it: justice.

Re:Double Standard (1)

zippo01 (688802) | about a year and a half ago | (#42723671)

It may, but you have the right to counsel. So the court will pay for it, when dealing with criminal charges? Unless you have the money to pay for it. And if the charges are that outlandish, it is easy to get them thrown out.

Re:Double Standard (5, Insightful)

sjames (1099) | about a year and a half ago | (#42723699)

The catch is that you only get a public defender if you are indigent. If you have means, they'll be sucked dry first, then you can have a public defender. So you are finally found not guilty, but you have effectively paid a ruinous fine anyway.

Re:Double Standard (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42723763)

Does that old adage of "Innocent until proven guilty" still exist? Or did the media (there, I said it) crap all over it with sensationalist headlines and fuck people over "in the court of public opinion"?

IIRC, the burden of proof lies with the prosecution. If *they* were to start stacking up charges, I'd say let them! They're the ones that'll have to provide evidence of such in a court of law AND they are also obligated to present the defense with the list of charges, evidence, witnesses and such that they intend to use against the defendant so a proper response can be prepared. So, you want to bring 100+ counts of whatever, bring it!

It's like when we were kids. You show me yours, I'll show you mine...but you go first.

Hopefully, in time, the judges will start complaining to the DA's Office (or GA, or whatever applies to each particular court circuit, IANAL) that they are wasting the taxpayers' money and the court's time with ridiculous lists of charges and that they keep bringing up, only to have them dropped or dismissed for a lesser conviction or plea bargain.

Having said that, the biased media (and in today's world, who isn't?) will have you tried and convicted in the name of headlines, viewer/readership before you even get to your first day in court. It's even likely the people called to stand as jury will be tainted by something their favorite media outlet had published. You know, "because the people have a right to know", really? Are doing the CNN thing and "just leaving it there"? can't we (all of us) take some responsiblity?

http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/mon-october-12-2009/cnn-leaves-it-there

Re:Double Standard (2)

mwvdlee (775178) | about a year and a half ago | (#42723659)

You can't blame others, for the choice of an individual to take their life. If you do, where does the blame end? It wouldn't...

Just because a lot of people would be blamed doesn't mean you can't blame them.
Just because a lot of people are guilty doesn't make them all innocent.

Re:Double Standard (2)

UltraZelda64 (2309504) | about a year and a half ago | (#42723711)

It is only subjective to a point. The problem is, there is no neutral ground... just the extremes of "you fucking pathetic, weak, filthy criminal, die by my hand!" and "meh... you're a corporation with a lot of money and good lawyers, we'll let it slide if you pay us ten grand."

They use their power to crush the weak (poor) to gain publicity, and the money talks for rich and famous fucks. There is no fucking "justice" in the current so-called United States "justice system." None at all.

With your view of good or bad, right or wrong, crime or no crime... you're forgetting one little thing. Relativity. Stealing a single candy bar from an already heavily profiting candy store is not the same as murdering someone, and should therefore have a more relaxed--dare I say it, sane--punishment.

Re:Double Standard (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42724095)

It is only subjective to a point.

Which is to say, all of it.

Ortiz created that problem (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42723733)

Zippo01, there's no confusion here, a person charged with WIRE FRAUD who committed WIRE FRAUD should be prosecuted for WIRE FRAUD face the evidence in court and and serve a penalty for WIRE FRAUD.

Whereas, a person guilty of COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT, should NOT be charged with WIRE FRAUD, prosecuted for WIRE FRAUD, and lots more extreme laws with the intention of denying them the court hearing by mudslinging.

Is it really so hard?

" The court system is already backed up, could you imagine if every charge when to trial."

MIT & JSTOR didn't want it prosecuted, it was ORTIZ that wanted it prosecuted. SHE created the burden on the court system! The original prosecutor thought it wasn't worth a judicial penalty FFS. Not only did she create the burden on the court, she then misuses the plea bargain to try to prevent the court ever hearing the case. Too risky to let it go to trial due to her mudslinging. All very very unprofessional of her.

Very unprofessional.

Re:Ortiz created that problem (1)

UltraZelda64 (2309504) | about a year and a half ago | (#42723757)

Zippo01, there's no confusion here, a person charged with WIRE FRAUD who committed WIRE FRAUD should be prosecuted for WIRE FRAUD face the evidence in court and and serve a penalty for WIRE FRAUD.

Well done, AC, well done. You nailed it.

Re:Ortiz created that problem (0)

zippo01 (688802) | about a year and a half ago | (#42723835)

If the wire fraud was such an outlandish charge with no cause, then it could have easily been dismissed, by the/a judge or appeal. This would have been done in a hearing long before a trial would have occurred. You say its unprofessional, others would say different. What I am saying is its all subjective.

Re:Ortiz created that problem (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | about a year and a half ago | (#42724151)

You really need to read what wire fraud is;

18 USC 1343 - Fraud by wire, radio, or television
Whoever, having devised or intending to devise any scheme or artifice to defraud, or for obtaining money or property by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises, transmits or causes to be transmitted by means of wire, radio, or television communication in interstate or foreign commerce, any writings, signs, signals, pictures, or sounds for the purpose of executing such scheme or artifice, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.

When Swartz attempted to access the MIT network after being kicked off he used a fictitious name which is considered a "false or fraudulent pretense". His purpose was to obtain copyright material which is also considered "writings". So according to this law, pretending to be someone else on the internet to obtain documents you are not authorized to have is "Fraud by wire, radio or television" and the maximum penalty is 20 years in prison. Copyright infringement was only one of the crimes Swartz committed. He also committed wire fraud.

The issue with not prosecuting is that it sets a precedence. If a good defense lawyer can point to a few cases that were not prosecuted they can get their client off as a case of "selective prosecution". The prosecutor is in a bind because if they do not prosecute the current case they may not be able to prosecute a similar but much more serious case in the future.

Re:Ortiz created that problem (1)

trout007 (975317) | about a year and a half ago | (#42724283)

I honestly WANT every charge to go to trial. Of course judges, DA's, and lawyers don't want that because it would mean they lose their power. But the key here should be a jury of peers deciding the following.
1. Is the law just? If so
2. Is the person guilty? If so
3. What should be the punishment.

That's it.

Re:Double Standard (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | about a year and a half ago | (#42723765)

We have such a double standard in this country. We scream when a person who is charged with a crime, makes a choice and takes their life because they where charged with a crime, that we are to tough. The next day we scream when another person charged with the same or a different crime gets off or only gets a light sentence.

The "we" in those two cases aren't necessarily the same people. People tend to shout the loudest about the things they're unhappy about; thus in the first case you'll hear mostly from those who think the justice system is too harsh, while in the second case you'll hear mostly from those who think it's too lenient.

Right for every charge to go to trial (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42723791)

If the court system is being backed up because everyone decides they want to go to trial because it is their right (just like they have the right to free speech and to bear arms) then the problem is not with the people (defendants) but the system - on two fronts:

1) Is it necessary for so many charges to be laid that are felonies that put people in a position where they need to go to trial

and

2) if (1) is necessary then the ability of the court system to deal with the trials needs to be expanded.

People should not feel as if they are doing something wrong if they choose to exercise their constitutional right to a trial by jury.

Re:Double Standard (4, Insightful)

sesshomaru (173381) | about a year and a half ago | (#42723911)

"could you imagine if every charge when to trial"

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence. -- Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution [wikipedia.org]

The United States has it's own propaganda (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42723611)

Memorable quotes for
Looker (1981)
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0082677/quotes [imdb.com]

"John Reston: Television can control public opinion more effectively than armies of secret police, because television is entirely voluntary. The American government forces our children to attend school, but nobody forces them to watch T.V. Americans of all ages *submit* to television. Television is the American ideal. Persuasion without coercion. Nobody makes us watch. Who could have predicted that a *free* people would voluntarily spend one fifth of their lives sitting in front of a *box* with pictures? Fifteen years sitting in prison is punishment. But 15 years sitting in front of a television set is entertainment. And the average American now spends more than one and a half years of his life just watching television commercials. Fifty minutes, every day of his life, watching commercials. Now, that's power."

##

"The United States has it's own propaganda, but it's very effective because people don't realize that it's propaganda. And it's subtle, but it's actually a much stronger propaganda machine than the Nazis had but it's funded in a different way. With the Nazis it was funded by the government, but in the United States, it's funded by corporations and corporations they only want things to happen that will make people want to buy stuff. So whatever that is, then that is considered okay and good, but that doesn't necessarily mean it really serves people's thinking - it can stupify and make not very good things happen."
- Crispin Glover: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000417/bio [imdb.com]

##

"It's only logical to assume that conspiracies are everywhere, because that's what people do. They conspire. If you can't get the message, get the man." - Mel Gibson (from an interview)

##

"We'll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false." - William Casey, CIA Director

##

"The real reason for the official secrecy, in most instances, is not to keep the opposition (the CIA's euphemistic term for the enemy) from knowing what is going on; the enemy usually does know. The basic reason for governmental secrecy is to keep you, the American public, from knowing - for you, too, are considered the opposition, or enemy - so that you cannot interfere. When the public does not know what the government or the CIA is doing, it cannot voice its approval or disapproval of their actions. In fact, they can even lie to your about what they are doing or have done, and you will not know it. As for the second advantage, despite frequent suggestion that the CIA is a rogue elephant, the truth is that the agency functions at the direction of and in response to the office of the president. All of its major clandestine operations are carried out with the direct approval of or on direct orders from the White House. The CIA is a secret tool of the president - every president. And every president since Truman has lied to the American people in order to protect the agency. When lies have failed, it has been the duty of the CIA to take the blame for the president, thus protecting him. This is known in the business as "plausible denial." The CIA, functioning as a secret instrument of the U.S. government and the presidency, has long misused and abused history and continues to do so."
- Victor Marchetti, Propaganda and Disinformation: How the CIA Manufactures History

##

George Carlin:

"The real owners are the big wealthy business interests that control things and make all the important decisions. Forget the politicians, they're an irrelevancy. The politicians are put there to give you the idea that you have freedom of choice. You don't. You have no choice. You have owners. They own you. They own everything. They own all the important land. They own and control the corporations. They've long since bought and paid for the Senate, the Congress, the statehouses, the city halls. They've got the judges in their back pockets. And they own all the big media companies, so that they control just about all of the news and information you hear. They've got you by the balls. They spend billions of dollars every year lobbying lobbying to get what they want. Well, we know what they want; they want more for themselves and less for everybody else.

But I'll tell you what they don't want. They don't want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They don't want well-informed, well-educated people capable of critical thinking. They're not interested in that. That doesn't help them. That's against their interests. They don't want people who are smart enough to sit around the kitchen table and figure out how badly they're getting fucked by a system that threw them overboard 30 fucking years ago.

You know what they want? Obedient workers people who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork but just dumb enough to passively accept all these increasingly shittier jobs with the lower pay, the longer hours, reduced benefits, the end of overtime and the vanishing pension that disappears the minute you go to collect it. And, now, they're coming for your Social Security. They want your fucking retirement money. They want it back, so they can give it to their criminal friends on Wall Street. And you know something? They'll get it. They'll get it all, sooner or later, because they own this fucking place. It's a big club, and you ain't in it. You and I are not in the big club.

This country is finished."

##

[1967] Jim Garrison Interview "In a very real and terrifying sense, our Government is the CIA and the Pentagon, with Congress reduced to a debating society. Of course, you can't spot this trend to fascism by casually looking around. You can't look for such familiar signs as the swastika, because they won't be there. We won't build Dachaus and Auschwitzes; the clever manipulation of the mass media is creating a concentration camp of the mind that promises to be far more effective in keeping the populace in line. We're not going to wake up one morning and suddenly find ourselves in gray uniforms goose-stepping off to work. But this isn't the test. The test is: What happens to the individual who dissents? In Nazi Germany, he was physically destroyed; here, the process is more subtle, but the end results can be the same. I've learned enough about the machinations of the CIA in the past year to know that this is no longer the dreamworld America I once believed in. The imperatives of the population explosion, which almost inevitably will lessen our belief in the sanctity of the individual human life, combined with the awesome power of the CIA and the defense establishment, seem destined to seal the fate of the America I knew as a child and bring us into a new Orwellian world where the citizen exists for the state and where raw power justifies any and every immoral act. I've always had a kind of knee-jerk trust in my Government's basic integrity, whatever political blunders it may make. But I've come to realize that in Washington, deceiving and manipulating the public are viewed by some as the natural prerogatives of office. Huey Long once said, "Fascism will come to America in the name of anti-fascism." I'm afraid, based on my own experience, that fascism will come to America in the name of national security."

##

"Everything we see has some hidden message. A lot of awful messages are coming in under the radar - subliminal consumer messages, all kinds of politically incorrect messages..." - Harold Ramis

##

We now return you Americans to your media: Corporate, Government sponsored and controlled (rigged) elections..

Most of you are all so asleep it's time you woke up!

Re:The United States has it's own propaganda (4, Insightful)

OneSmartFellow (716217) | about a year and a half ago | (#42723637)

I think the problem is that there is regrettably very little we can do about it. Sure, the revolution is coming, but for now, the revolution looks more painful than the present reality. Eventually that balance will shift, and then, it won't be pretty either.

Nope (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42723667)

Doesn't pass the smell test. If you can't do the time, don't do the crime. He STOLE. I'm sorry if you're all sympathetic to him because he was so screwed up he killed himself, but the fact is, he broke the law and should have known what was coming to him.

Re:Nope (5, Insightful)

powerspike (729889) | about a year and a half ago | (#42723705)

First, I'm Australian and not American, However i know how wrong this is.

He Stole:- Well no he didn't. If anything it was IP Infringement - and because of the way a law was made in 1984 it means it was a felony and he was going to spend 5+ years in Jail For. The DOJ took the case over from the state. The State was going to let him go with a warning, the DOJ took the case, and started stacking up the charges - 9 of them the i read - which was going to be 25+ years in jail.

Lets make this clear - if he *STOLE* a hard drive with the files on it, it would of been a slap on the wrist.
The law basically means if you break the T&C of a website or service, it's a federal crime which is what happened here.

He tried to do a plea bargain - but the DOJ said you have to plead guilty to all of them. He had a choice - fight and go bankrupt, then to jail. Plead guilty and goto jail, Or take his own life. He chose to take his own life.

Seriously, The People in the DOJ of the case should either be charged with some type of assisted suicide charges, or involuntary manslaughter.

Re:Nope (2, Interesting)

LordLucless (582312) | about a year and a half ago | (#42723871)

He actually had a fourth choice, which Americans have increasingly taken up over the last couple of decades - go postal and shoot a bunch of people. I'm sort of surprised he didn't try and take the prosecutors with him. If you want to look at reasons for those sort of things, maybe you need to pay attention to the pressure corrupt systems like these place on individuals.

Re:Nope (1, Interesting)

MartinSchou (1360093) | about a year and a half ago | (#42723909)

He had a choice - fight and go bankrupt, then to jail. Plead guilty and goto jail, Or take his own life.

That is a really, REALLY unfair claim to make.

And I say that as someone with multiple suicide attempts behind me (yes, I'm a failure, I know), so allow me to rephrase that.

That is a really, REALLY stupid and ignorant claim to make. There - much better.

People do not commit suicide because of a single thing. It's not the rape alone that makes rape victims suicidal, it's the associated shame, social isolation, finger pointing and blame (it's never the victim's fault) as well, and those come from society - not the rapist, no matter how despicable the crime is.

Pinning Swartz' suicide on overzealous prosecutors is as fair as pinning Jacintha Saldanha's suicide [dailymail.co.uk] on the radio hosts. It may be a contributing factor, but not the only one.

People are WAY too keen to blame a single thing (person or otherwise) as the cause for whatever evil they see, and are WAY too scared of thinking let alone saying that people may have a mental illness. Just look at how quick people are to blame video games for the acts of murderers these days.

You don't attempt suicide (successfully or otherwise) if you're not mentally ill, be it temporary, short term, long term or chronic.

Yes, he made the choice to take his own life. He also made the choice of knowingly breaking the law (unreasonable or not). Rosa Parks made a similar decision as did Nelson Mandela and many others around the world. But unlike Swartz, they didn't choose to take their own life.

And you can say a lot of things about the US prison system, but I'm pretty sure it is a LOT more comfortable than what Mandela went through.

Strange argument (2)

Chrisq (894406) | about a year and a half ago | (#42723945)

People do not commit suicide because of a single thing. It's not the rape alone that makes rape victims suicidal, it's the associated shame, social isolation, finger pointing and blame (it's never the victim's fault) as well, and those come from society - not the rapist, no matter how despicable the crime is.

So what are you saying here - if someone is raped, were previously fine, but then kill themselves because of shame that it is not the rapists fault? If not when is anything totally anyone's fault - if I beat you and left you in constant pain and paralysed then it would be your perception of pain and societies's provision and reaction to disabled that did it!

Pinning Swartz' suicide on overzealous prosecutors is as fair as pinning Jacintha Saldanha's suicide [dailymail.co.uk] on the radio hosts.

In both cases they started a course of events that lead to someone committing suicide. Their degree of blame depends on to what degree they could have foreseen the risk, and to what degree they could have seen any unjust negative consequences for the victim (e.g. if I want to make you feel bad and you end up killing yourself I am more to blame than if I accidentally bring up a touchy subject that leads to it.). There is no doubt tough that to some extent they are to blame.

Re:Nope (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | about a year and a half ago | (#42723719)

You and Carmen Ortiz need to learn the LEGAL definition of theft. She should have been reprimanded for accusing him of 'stealing' in her statement. In no legal sense did he STEAL anything and quite honestly Ortiz's comments are, IMHO, defamatory.

Re:Nope (4, Insightful)

Sique (173459) | about a year and a half ago | (#42723839)

He didn't steal. Not even in the copyright sense of words. He violated the Terms of Use. He had the right to download from JSTOR. What he didn't had was the right to use scripts to download from JSTOR. He used scripts that unattended downloaded documents from JSTOR, so he violated the Terms of Use.

Re:Nope (1)

penix1 (722987) | about a year and a half ago | (#42724017)

which completely discounts the fact that he broke into a storage closet, Setup the laptop hooked without authorization to their network to run the scripts that violated the TOS.

Look, he knew what he was doing was wrong and that there would be consequences or he wouldn't have gone to the elaborate route he did to gain access to that closet and network. That, IMO is what caused the wire fraud charge.

Re:Nope (1)

Sique (173459) | about a year and a half ago | (#42724147)

Yes, he set up a computer to perform the downloads. Yes, this was violating the terms on which he was on campus and getting access to JSTOR. But he didn't steal, and that's what I was correcting. If he actually stole something out of the closet, he would have gotten an one year sentence, and be done with it. But he was charged with 25+ years of prison and an US$1 mio fine. And that's where things go out of hand. And that's why some people are upset. It's like shooting people for spraying walls.

Re:Nope (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42724203)

"...he broke into a storage closet" ==> which is not theft
"setup the laptop hooked without authorisation" ==> which is not theft
" violated the TOS" ==> which is not theft

What was your counterpoint again?

Breaking the definition of justice. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42723717)

If you are out to "make a example", or to "crush a person like a bug" for doing something you don't like. You are a asshole, and works on something completelly unrelated with justice. If at the same time you fail to stop banksters from break the economy and still not enter jail. Then you are just a idiot that is wasting everyone time, and your criminal neglicence will be paid for this whole generation and the next. You are a bloody idiot.

Sounds like a game (1)

naranek (1727936) | about a year and a half ago | (#42723739)

It sounds like it's just a game for them. You pit prosecution and defense against each other and both try to win the match. It's just that in this game the goal should be that justice is served, and not that your side wins. It also seems that the other side figured out a tactic that guarantees easy wins. I think that this outcome is kind of natural - we all want to be as good as possible in what we do. At the same time it's also horribly wrong.

What about... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42723741)

...making Carmen Ortiz an "example" of this kind of abusive behavior from the prosecution?

https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/remove-united-states-district-attorney-carmen-ortiz-office-overreach-case-aaron-swartz/RQNrG1Ck

US-citizens, your future is in your hands.
We, as in "foreigners", can only look at all this mess and shake our heads, which we do alarmingly and increasingly often...

Re:What about... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42724149)

US-citizens, your future is in your hands. We, as in "foreigners", can only look at all this mess and shake our heads, which we do alarmingly and increasingly often...

That's because "you as foreigners" don't know much about the US. Swartz faced a maximum of a few years in prison, the same as he would have in most of Europe for the same crime.

Re:What about... (1)

buybuydandavis (644487) | about a year and a half ago | (#42724193)

...making Carmen Ortiz an "example" of this kind of abusive behavior from the prosecution?

Ha ha ha ha ha ha!

Laws don't apply to our *rulers*, and in particular, not for our rulers in the criminal "justice" system.

Reform plea bargaining. (5, Insightful)

jcr (53032) | about a year and a half ago | (#42723747)

If the prosecutor offers a lower penalty for a guilty plea, then the government is admitting that the lower penalty is sufficient if the accused is guilty, and that should be what the defendant is in jeopardy of if he goes to trial. The effect of the threat of drastic sentences for minor offenses means that most of the time, the accused is denied his right to trial by jury.

-jcr

Re:Reform plea bargaining. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42723781)

America still has a right to trial by jury? Surely not...

Re:Reform plea bargaining. (1)

oztiks (921504) | about a year and a half ago | (#42723855)

JCR I don't agree with many of your comments which I've read on /. over the years but this one gains you my respect.

Re:Reform plea bargaining. (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | about a year and a half ago | (#42724007)

When there is no doubt that a defendant has broken a law there is no incentive to that defendant to plead guilty. In the best case there could be a procedural error and the defendant will walk free. In the worst case the defendant will get what was offered in the plea deal. Do you really want every minor infraction that would put someone away for less than a year to have to go to court? Do you realize how clogged the courts already are and what a mess they would be if that happened? The reason the prosecutors threaten more jail time is to give the defendant incentive to admit to what was actually done. By the way, as part of a plea deal counts can be dropped by the prosecutor so the judge is limited in what sentence can be imposed.

The one thing missed is that if the defendant is really innocent it does not matter what sentence he is threatened with as it will never be imposed. In the Swartz case he was filmed entering the closet to replace hard drives. There was no doubt about his wrongdoing. All that needed to me done was decide the sentence. Swartz insisted on no consequences for something he knew was against the law.

Re:Reform plea bargaining. (4, Insightful)

DarkOx (621550) | about a year and a half ago | (#42724097)

Then maybe the problem is there are two many minor infractions. If we are not willing to give someone their day in court over a matter than we probably should not be regulating it in the first place

Re:Reform plea bargaining. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42724181)

Yet, Swartz favored creating many more "minor infractions". Or what do you think the consequences of all the national laws Obama and the progressives have been advocating would be?

Re:Reform plea bargaining. (1)

buybuydandavis (644487) | about a year and a half ago | (#42724199)

Thank you. Saved me the trouble.

Re:Reform plea bargaining. (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | about a year and a half ago | (#42724253)

Do we stop regulating speeding, theft under $500, trespassing, etc? The issue is not how minor the offense is but how often they are committed and that the offenses clog the courts with needless procedures on the off chance that something will go wrong and the defendant will get off. It is no longer a quest for justice but a crap shoot.

Re:Reform plea bargaining. (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | about a year and a half ago | (#42724125)

Do you really want every minor infraction that would put someone away for less than a year to have to go to court?

If it means that innocent people stop being punished by the 'justice' system? Absolutely.

Re:Reform plea bargaining. (0)

jklovanc (1603149) | about a year and a half ago | (#42724217)

That implies that Swartz was innocent which he obviously was not. He broke into a server closet and installed his own hardware into MIT's network without authorization to obtain documents he was not authorized to have. He broke a number of laws. The only valid discussion is which ones.

Re:Reform plea bargaining. (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | about a year and a half ago | (#42724331)

That implies that Swartz was innocent

No, it doesn't. I never mentioned anything about Swartz. All it implies is that certain innocent people might be taking plea bargains, and the system completely allows for this.

which he obviously was not.

As far as I know, he was never convicted.

Re:Reform plea bargaining. (1)

TFAFalcon (1839122) | about a year and a half ago | (#42724301)

The only thing a prosecutor should be allowed to offer is a recommendation to the judge for a lower sentence. The crime charged should never change.

Tired of Swartz (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42723793)

The dude wasn't even man enough to stay alive to fight for what he believed. Why the fuck is their an article about this loser every day?

Re:Tired of Swartz (1)

gargll (1682636) | about a year and a half ago | (#42724043)

If I could be half the loser that Swartz was, I'd be a proud man. If we were all half the loser that Swartz was, we'd be bathing in utopia.

Re:Tired of Swartz (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42724251)

You should kill yourself for something you believe in. We'd all be better off.

Not the real problem (1)

aaaaaaargh! (1150173) | about a year and a half ago | (#42723801)

The article points to the prosecutors, but these are not the real problem. The real problem are the laws. Democratic principles of rule of law do not only concern rights of due process but also the laws themselves. Laws that allow sentences ranging from a fine up to 35 years in prison for the same crime at the discretion of the prosecutors and judge are inherently injust. That should be obvious to anyone.

As for plea bargaining itself, I personally have always considered that injust, too, because it mostly works advantagous to people with lots of money and smart lawyers. That's probably more debatable. Anyway its the system of laws themselves that would need a thorough reform - which will never happen.

Swartz was a coward (-1, Troll)

EzInKy (115248) | about a year and a half ago | (#42723819)

Cowards would rather die for their beliefs instead of standing up for them.

And what are you? (1)

ultranova (717540) | about a year and a half ago | (#42723955)

Cowards would rather die for their beliefs instead of standing up for them.

And Internet Tough Guys sling mud on them afterwards, thinging this makes them something besides vultures. Except that real-life vultures serve a necessary function, so the comparison is unfair to the buzzards. Sorry, janitor birds.

Boycott JSTOR! Lets start WikiSTOR / SwartzSTOR! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42723905)

Boycott JSTOR! Lets start WikiSTOR / SwartzSTOR!In honor of Swartz, and a lasting tribute to research!

Sometimes... (2)

sesshomaru (173381) | about a year and a half ago | (#42723935)

State prosecutors who investigated the late Aaron Swartz had planned to let him off with a stern warning, but federal prosecutor Carmen Ortiz took over and chose to make an example of the Internet activist, according to a report in Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly.

Hey, she did make an example out of Swartz, just not the kind of example she was hoping for.

He became an example of the result of the tyranny of the modern American State. (Honestly? He's not even the best example, but he's very prominent. Which is exactly why Ortiz and Heymann chose him. )

Incidentally, Shirly Sherrod lasted how long when that deceptively edited video of her was released, compared to how long Ortiz has lasted after an egregious miscarriage of Justice that she was responsible for was shown?

Seems the Obama administration has its priorities...

Re:Sometimes... (2)

Alranor (472986) | about a year and a half ago | (#42723979)

Your Sig: "MIT betrayed all of its basic principles."

You can't betray your basic principles. What MIT have done is revealed that they have been lying about what their basic principles are.

What he really did deserved jail time. (-1, Flamebait)

jklovanc (1603149) | about a year and a half ago | (#42723963)

Lets get off the "he was innocent" kick. Swartz broke into a server closet, installed his own hardware behind MIT's firewall so he could download files he was told he was not authorized. I guess I can come into your home and use your bandwidth to do anything I want. He broke the law. It is as simple as that and he wanted to go to court. He put himself in the way of justice and then he ran. If he was not prepared to go to jail he shouldn't have knowingly broken the law. Many civil rights activists willingly went to jail to stand up for what they believed. Swartz on the other hand took the easy way out. Painting an entire system due the the actions of on obviously disturbed individual is ludicrous.

Instead of pointing the finger at the prosecutor how about the incompetent defense lawyer who insisted on zero jail time. Couple that with reporting that Swatrz was suicidal then doing nothing else. Perhaps protecting his client might have been in order.

The Swarts case was not an example of how the system is broken because the process was cut short. A six month jail term was reasonable for the crimes committed. That he was threatened with a lot more is irrelevant until he is sentenced to that term. For all we know the judge may have given him a suspended sentence, 50 years or something in between. We will never know because Swartz ended the process prematurely.

Re:What he really did deserved jail time. (1)

Legion303 (97901) | about a year and a half ago | (#42724005)

Lets get off the "he was innocent" kick. Swartz broke into a server closet, installed his own hardware behind MIT's firewall so he could download files he was told he was not authorized.

How many of those things was he actually indicted for?

A six month jail term was reasonable for the crimes committed.

Which crimes do you think he was charged with?

I already know the answers to these questions. You apparently do not.

Re:What he really did deserved jail time. (5, Insightful)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about a year and a half ago | (#42724035)

Swartz broke into a server closet,

You're making it sound like he broke in, which is untrue. The closet was unlocked. Since you're talking semantics, this is important. That would reduce it from breaking and entering and criminal damage to trespass which carries a much smaller penalty.

so he could download files he was told he was

Irrelevant. JSTOR dropped charges.

The Swarts case was not an example of how the system is broken because the process was cut short. A six month jail term was reasonable for the crimes committed.

Isimply cannot believe the level of obtuseness displayed by your post. If you believe that threatening a man with 50 years in gaol so that he capitulates to a 6 month sentance without trial is not broken then I simply do not know how to even beginning to explain the basic concepts of justice and fairness to you.

And if you thing that 50 years is reasonable for trespass, then there is no hope.

Re:What he really did deserved jail time. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42724229)

You're making it sound like he broke in, which is untrue. The closet was unlocked.

Whether something is locked is irrelevant to whether you commit a felony when you enter.

Isimply cannot believe the level of obtuseness displayed by your post. If you believe that threatening a man with 50 years in gaol so that he capitulates to a 6 month sentance

The "50 years" number was just a publicity stunt; it was legally impossible for him to get more than a couple of years, and he and his lawyers knew that. That maximum penalty is in line with maximum penalties in Europe and elsewhere.

Re:What he really did deserved jail time. (0, Troll)

jklovanc (1603149) | about a year and a half ago | (#42724347)

Irrelevant. JSTOR dropped charges.

Irrelevant because JSTOR is not the one pressing the charges the Federal Attorney is.

One has to be stupid to take "you could get 50 years for that" seriously. His defense lawyer would also have to be incompetent to let him. Many offenses have high maximum penalties but few defendants get the maximums. Publicizing those maximums is just playing to the sympathies of the public and has nothing to do with what would actually happen.

And if you thing that 50 years is reasonable for trespass, then there is no hope.

Had Swartz only entered the room, looked around and left then 50 years would have been way too much. That is not what happened. Swartz dd many other things while in the closet and would never have gotten 50 years as that was the maximum sentences.

Isimply cannot believe the level of obtuseness displayed by your post. If you believe that threatening a man with 50 years in gaol so that he capitulates to a 6 month sentance without trial is not broken then I simply do not know how to even beginning to explain the basic concepts of justice and fairness to you.

Excellent cop out. You can not explain it because you have no basis for your explanation. I think it is completely reasonable to tell a defendant" Look, you can plead out to charges we all know you are guilty of or we can go to court on the off chance that we make a mistake. If we go to court we will charge you with what ever we can under the law and you may be up for a lot more time. Your choice, plea to what you did or role the dice." The reason it is not broken is that no system in the world could survive if every single charge went to court.

ironic (3, Insightful)

stenvar (2789879) | about a year and a half ago | (#42723973)

Of course, it is "sickening" that federal prosecutors overcharge, that they have so much power, and that so many cases end up in federal court to begin with. But it's Congress that is responsible for this development; you can't blame the prosecutors (for many years, they were required to charge everything they reasonably could).

It's ironic that Swartz is becoming a poster boy for this, given how linked to progressive causes he was. A large reason for the huge transfer of power to the federal government is due to progressive causes. You want less of this kind of heavy-handed federal government action? Stop handing more power to the federal government and take it back to the states. Of course, you the have to live with the fact that people in Tennessee may not share your views on gay marriage, abortion, weed, evolution, guns, or welfare. But then, you don't have to live there (and fortunately neither do I).

Re:ironic (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | about a year and a half ago | (#42724177)

This, exactly this. The reason we have this abuse of power is because we have asked Congress to make too many things federal offenses. Prosecutors, and other government officials, who answer to locally elected officials are more easily held accountable for abuse of power than government officials who theoretically answer to Congress (and in practice the only elected official they answer to is the President).

Democracy (-1, Offtopic)

reinadaley (2827285) | about a year and a half ago | (#42724041)

my friend's step-aunt makes $89 every hour on the internet. She has been without a job for nine months but last month her paycheck was $21102 just working on the internet for a few hours. Here's the site to read more FAB33.COM

But you can intimidate voters! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42724109)

You can carry a club and intimidate voters outside of a polling place and get away with it under this Department of "Justice" (if you're black).

All charges dropped.

Go ahead and mod me down, but you know very well I'm telling the truth. Eric Holder is a racist through and through. Evil is as evil does.

I do get tired in these threads of people who: (3, Insightful)

CuteSteveJobs (1343851) | about a year and a half ago | (#42724117)

1. Quote Martin Luther King as saying disidents should be proud to go to jail.

Not everyone is heralded like Mandella with a large base of supporters and international attention. Most are swallowed up by the penal system never to be heard from again. Only their family remembers. Look what happened to John Kiriakou who blew the whistle on illegal torture. He's gone away for 30 months. http://dissenter.firedoglake.com/2013/01/28/convicted-cia-whistleblower-john-kiriakou-confronts-government-talking-points-on-nbcs-today-show/ [firedoglake.com]


Whistleblower John Kiriakou said "I am proud that I stood up to our government. I am not a criminal. I am a whistleblower. Torture is illegal and it’s officially abandoned in our country and I’m proud to have had a role in that." Sounds a bit like Patrick Henry's "Liberty or Death". A hero right? And yet...

Don't expect the media to save you. NBC's Savannah Guthrie began her interview of him: "Some people say you betrayed your former colleagues in order to raise your media profile in order to sell books and get a consulting business going." Are *you* going to be holding a candlelight vigil for a cad of a man who betrayed his country to sell books?

Don't expect the judge to save you: The US District Court Judge Leonie Brinkema said on Friday that Kiriakou had damaged the CIA. She called the sentence, the result of a plea arrangement with prosecutors, "way too light". Before issuing the sentence, the judge asked Kiriakou if he had anything to say. When he declined, she said: ''Perhaps you have already spoken too much.''
This book tells how once you're jailed the public think you deserve it and quickly forget about you. http://books.google.com/books?id=Tu5RB6YHf10C&pg=PP1&lpg=PP1&ots=51Ya4U8XFt&dq=lynch+in+the+name+of+justice [google.com] (Go to page 43 of this Google Books preview).


2. Swartz broke the law and should do the time.

These posts are usually accompanied by an anal exploration of the relevant statute by watched too many courtroom dramas and thinks they are real life, but was there ever an Episode of Law & Order when McCoy said "Let's fuck this college kid over! I want a promotion! "

People who post these overlook the whole point that these are unfair laws. Volokh showed how unfair they are when he wrote a TOS that could be used to send anyone to jail named "Ralph".
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/eo20120803gw.html [japantimes.co.jp]
http://www.amazon.com/Arrest-Proof-Yourself-Ex-Cop-Reveals-Arrested/dp/1556526377 [amazon.com]
http://www.volokh.com/posts/1227896387.shtml [volokh.com]

Democrats need the Latino vote (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42724157)

Therefore Obama will not remove Ortiz from office.

Enough Aaron Swartz worship, already (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42724329)

You didn't give two shits when he asked for help a few months ago, stop pretending like you give a shit now you hypocritical asshats.

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