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The Supreme Court said it would consider whether states can broadly require online retailers to collect sales taxes even for states where they lack a physical presence—with a potential major impact on online commerce.
WSJ.com: US Business
Four senior judges of India’s Supreme Court have come out in the open complaining about the working of the country’s top court.
Lynn Tran and Richard Hazen built a Florida beachfront treehouse that would be the envy of any child. It’s got two levels, hammocks, and windows looking out on the Gulf of Mexico. But the hangout has cost the couple a handsome sum: about $ 30,000 to construct and probably five…
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei blamed Iran’s “enemies” on Tuesday for stirring up unrest in the country, as the death toll from days of anti-government protests climbed to 21.
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Ross Ulbricht formally submitted a writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS), seeking a hearing for the overturn of a decision upheld this year by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. Mr. Ulbricht’s double-life sentence without the possibility of parole is at stake.
Ross Ulbricht Files Supreme Court Appeal
“Ross William Ulbricht respectfully petitions for a writ of certiorari to review the judgment of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in this case,” read the terse beginnings of a landmark plea to literally the last resort for Mr. Ulbricht.
Writ of certiorari orders the lower court, which upheld Mr. Ulbricht’s conviction and sentence, to deliver its records so that the Supreme Court may review them and decide if further examination is necessary. The SCOTUS is a nine member body which acts as the final arbiter in legal matters. Currently the Court has five members considered more conservative, while four are thought to be on the permissive side. Neil Gorsuch, recently appointed by President Trump, is said to be not bad on 4th Amendment issues, one of the grounds on which Mr. Ulbricht’s appeal is based.
There’s still a while to go before anything concrete can be known. The SCOTUS is under no obligation to pick-up the petition. In fact, of the 7,000 or so they receive per year, they’ll hear at most 150, a niggardly .02 percent. Very often the Circuit Courts are the final word in the great majority of cases. And of the appellate courts, the 2nd Circuit has a comparatively low reversal rate by the SCOTUS, so even if the case is ultimately heard that is no guarantee Mr. Ulbricht will see relief.
The generally agreed test for the SCOTUS to hear a writ involve cases of national significance, to establish a precedence, or put to rest existing contradictions in decisions. Four of the justices must vote to accept a case. Justices’ clerks are in charge of first reviewing the writ, and it is they who write a summary and recommend hearing. Justices then take their recommendations to a conference for a final decision as to whether full hearing is warranted.
Mr. Ulbricht’s appeal focuses on two questions, according to the writ: “1. Whether the warrantless seizure of an individual’s Internet traffic information without probable cause violates the Fourth Amendment. 2. Whether the Sixth Amendment permits judges to find the facts necessary to support an otherwise unreasonable sentence.”
The United States Constitution is odd in the sense the bulk of the document describes what government does, its various functions, and then come amendments to those functions. The first ten are known as the Bill of Rights, and they specifically forbid government from certain transgressions, no matter the excuse.
The relevant portion of the Fourth Amendment under consideration reads, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause[.]” The relevant Sixth Amendment portion reads, “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury[.]”
According to a memorandum obtained by Brian Doherty of Reason, “This case presents two important questions of constitutional law with broader significance for the rights of criminal defendants generally,” writes lead attorney Kannon K. Shanmugam. “First, the Second Circuit affirmed the government’s warrantless collection of Mr. Ulbricht’s Internet traffic information by relying on the third-party doctrine, which the Court is reviewing in a different context this Term in Carpenter v. United States….This case would afford the Court an ideal opportunity to address how the doctrine applies to Internet traffic information,” he claims.
Law for the Digital Age is Badly Needed
Mr. Doherty explains, “Shanmugam, a former law clerk to the late Justice Antonin Scalia, has argued 21 previous cases before the Supreme Court, has had at least five wins there, and has a good record of a 36 percent success rate in having cert petitions granted by the Court from 2012-2015 (and a 38 percent such success rate from 2013-2017),” which bodes well for Mr. Ulbricht.
Warrantless searches are at play, potentially, in the case because information used against Mr. Ulbricht was gathered under the “third party doctrine.” This allowed law enforcement to effectively search his IP address and personal laptop, which are presently thought to be available publicly over the internet through a modem or telecommunications company. The doctrine stems from before a time when internet service and laptops and phones were a person’s everyday lifeblood, and as such is in great need of updating. Is this information citizens are knowingly making public? Or, is such information assumed to be private? It’s all the difference in the world.
Also of grave concern is Mr. Ulbricht’s sentencing itself. “Ulbricht’s Sentencing Guidelines range would have resulted in a recommended sentence of, at most, 30 years in prison,” Mr. Shanmugam insists, but the judge took into account, beyond a jury, accusations never proven, including murder, to assess punishment. Mr. Doherty writes, “The Second Circuit in his initial appeal ‘reluctantly affirmed, concluding that the alleged murders for hire separated the case from an ordinary drug crime.’”
For the broader bitcoin community, Ross Ulbricht is someone many feel a debt is owed. Silk Road, according to many, provided a safer environment for buyers and sellers of products disliked by governments. The earliest use cases of bitcoin, cryptocurrency, were proven viable and, it’s not too far to claim, valuable due to such fearless experimentation. A great many enthusiasts view Mr. Ulbricht as someone who the government picked-on to send a horrible message.
What do think of Ross Ulbricht’s chances? Let us know in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Pixabay, FreeRoss.org.
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The post Ross Ulbricht’s Fate in the Hands of the US Supreme Court appeared first on Bitcoin News.
The Greek supreme court in Athens has rejected today the appeal by the suspected BTC-e operator Alexander Vinnik regarding his extradition to the United States. The way is now clear for the Greek justice minister to give the final verdict whether to extradite the Russian national to American authorities or not.
The Extradition of Vinnik
Greece’s top court has ruled that Alexander Vinnik can be handed to criminal authorities in the U.S. where he is accused of running a $ 4 billion money laundering operation. The Americans claim that Vinnik was the head operator of the bitcoin exchange BTC-e, a charge both he and the exchange deny.
In addition to money laundering, Vinnik faces in the US accusations of masterminding multiple crimes since 2011, including drug trafficking and computer hacking. He is also accused of laundering a large amount of bitcoin Vinnik allegedly “obtained” from the hack of Mt. Gox. If convicted he can get up to 55 years in an American prison.
Russia Wants Vinnik Back
Russia had previously objected to Vinnik’s extradition to the U.S. on the grounds that it violates international law. His motherland also demands he be sent back, supposedly to face charges there for stealing 600,000 rubles (about $ 10,500). Vinnik and his lawyers also agreed to have him return to Russia.
“The Supreme Court’s decision was expected, it is a decision on an appeal on the same decision of the Thessaloniki court. There are more opportunities for legal work which will be carried out now,” Vinnik’s lawyer, Timofey Musatov, told Russian news agency Sputnik today.
Musatov earlier warned that this sets a precedent where “any citizen in the world could be arrested at any second on false accusations, in which there are no facts, but only assumptions.”
Should Alexander Vinnik expect a fair trial in the US? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!
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The post Greek Supreme Court Rejects Extradition Appeal by BTC-e’s Alexander Vinnik appeared first on Bitcoin News.
The Supreme Court on Friday blocked for now a judge’s order requiring the Trump administration to disclose all emails, letters, and other documents it considered in its decision to end a program protecting young immigrants from deportation, the AP reports. By a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court blocked an order…
The Supreme Court said the Trump administration for now can implement all parts of its latest ban on travelers from certain countries while litigation challenging the restrictions continues.
WSJ.com: What’s News Asia
The Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments Tuesday in the Masterpiece Cakeshop vs. Colorado Civil Rights Commission case—a divisive and complicated case with ramifications that go far beyond the world of baked goods. Lower courts found Colorado baker Jack Phillips guilty of violating anti-discrimination laws when he…
The Supreme Court handed Donald Trump a victory today, allowing his administration to enforce its full travel ban while challenges to the law work their way through lower courts. The Court’s decision reverses the earlier rulings of two federal judges, both of whom determined the administration could only block people…