Prosecutor of Aaron Swartz Linked To Another Suicide Of Defendant

600px-US-DeptOfJustice-Seal.svg DOJ220px-Aaron_Swartz_at_Boston_Wikipedia_Meetup,_2009-08-18_We previously discussed how the Justice Department hounded Aaron Swartz in a prosecution that sought 35 years in prison for his effort to make academic papers available to the public — even though MIT did not ask for such charges and later released the papers free of charge to the public. United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz and the Obama Administration were long criticized for the prosecution but remained committed to destroying Swartz — a move that clearly delighted copyright hawks that have tremendous influence over the Administration as discussed earlier. Given the high-profile nature of the case and the months of criticism, it is clear that Main Justice in Washington had to be monitoring the case. Now it appears that Swartz’s line prosecutor, Assistant United States Attorney Stephen Heymann was connected to a prior suicide of a defendant in a similar case. In 2008, Jonathan James killed himself while being pursued by Heymann in a criminal hacker case. Heymann then moved on to Swartz who also killed himself — complaining of the abusive treatment by the Justice Department. It is worth noting that the Justice Department could not come up with a single charge for anyone associated with the torture program, including the attorneys who facilitated the program. However, it wanted 35 years for a man accused of illegally gaining access to a university site and downloading academic papers to make available to the public for free. Those documents later released for free to the public but the Obama Administration still felt jail time was essential in the interests of justice.

Heymann secured a record by making James the first juvenile jailed in a federal cybercrime case. James insisted in his suicide note that he was innocent but that the prosecutors would not leave him alone. He wrote “I have no faith in the ‘justice’ system. Perhaps my actions today, and this letter, will send a stronger message to the public. Either way, I have lost control over this situation, and this is my only way to regain control.”

Heymann received the Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service for “directing the largest and most successful identity theft and hacking investigation and prosecution ever conducted in the United States.”

Heymann is accused by a lawyer of using the Swartz case as a high-profile opportunity for himself and refused to accept a plea that did not involve a confession to all counts and a guarantee of prison time.

The Swartz case remains a serious concern with many of us. The extreme sentence sought in the case is troubling for an individual who was an advocate for public access and did not have a financial motive in his actions. He was a long-standing critic of the Obama Administration for its treatment of information under copyright and trademark laws as well as President Obama’s “hit list” policy.

Of course, it is doubtful that any serious investigation will come from the controversy. The Justice Department is notorious for whitewashing such controversies and the Administration has long followed the directions of industry and lobby groups on these laws, including criminalizing copyright violations. Both Congress and the White House have repeatedly yielded to increasing penalties and power for these groups. Swartz is simply the latest victim of this trend. Thousands of less well known citizens have been pursued for ruinous damages or criminal charges.

Source: Buzzfeed

91 thoughts on “Prosecutor of Aaron Swartz Linked To Another Suicide Of Defendant

  1. The body count grows. This administration prosicutes and persicutes those that disagree with them. This presidents threatens Imperial Power by RUELING by decree. They know what the truth is yet they continue to lie and go after individual freedom and power. What truely is their motive.

  2. As of 2003, Stephen Heymann served as Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division of the Massachusetts US Attorney’s Office. Heymann is not an Obama appointee. Ortiz is. Obama was not elected until the end of 2008.

  3. “I have no faith in the ‘justice’ system. Perhaps my actions today, and this letter, will send a stronger message to the public. Either way, I have lost control over this situation, and this is my only way to regain control.”

    -Jonathan James

  4. Ah, ‘we’ who have little patience for “technicalities”, as opposed to “it’s either the law or not”. Doesn’t leave much in the way of compassion for Mr. Swartz. I cite this miscarriage of ‘justice’ as another example of a definition of a ‘technicality’, based on the tactics of the prosecutor and the piling on of charges.

    Due to the disproportionality of power, I fully concur he was bullied The reasons for suicide are never fully cognizable, nor one sided, nor pleasant for those left behind. But it seems those most directly effected are the family, and they seem to be pointing the finger directly at the prosecutor. It is a cold person who would home in on a characterization of suicide, used in derogation, that it is an act of cowardice when the countervailing considerations indicate that this young individual’s life seems basically to have advocated for high principle.

    Given that the “victims” of Swartz’s crime primarily seem to sympathize with his intention — including the many tribute publications by the authors of material “stolen” — I am willing to call the prosecutors vengeance a vendetta hanging on the all the legal niceties and presumptions and inferences she could muster.

  5. “This prosecutor needs to be “looked” at very closely to see what the public can find.: (rafflaw)

    How about, this prosecutor needs to be hounded in to justifying his tactics and motives by empaneling a special grand jury and putting under oath all those with whom he shared his precious words to encourage their fervor in developing this case, and other cases . . And a couple of other special committees to drag him in front of to justify his miserable ethic..

  6. I do hope the family files a wrongful death suit and this dirty little secret in Massachusetts is brought into full public view. Parents, in particular, should pay close attention to what is going on here and what this administration is doing – probably to win the hearts and minds of lobbyists for the entertainment and education industries. Barack Obama does have teenagers so this is particularly offensive – as is the never ending war on whistle bloweres.

  7. Keley:

    “I do hope the family files a wrongful death suit…”


    If filed, that suit is going nowhere. There is a mountain of problems standing in the way of proving either negligence or intentional conduct on the part of the prosecutor who enjoys almost limitless immunity. Couple that with the issue of causation — the plaintiff took his own life after all — and I doubt many lawyers would take on the fight. Many folks here see a moral wrong by the prosecutor but that does not translate into legal causes of action. This is something first year law school students learn much to their dismay. Any decisions on the morality of the conduct of the prosecutor will have to come in the next world not this one.

  8. emptywheel, on why homing in solely on the prosecutor is not addressing the rot in the system, and in fact validates the legitimacy of the system by, my words, acknowledging and working within a corrupt and venal system:

    “These petitions [to fire Ortiz, etc] seem to serve the purpose of pretending that Swartz’ treatment was abnormal.

    “It was not.

    “Not only has Obama’s Administration treated all those who liberate information without his government’s sanction as dangerous criminals, but his DOJ has been ruthless against just about everyone who is not a Wall Street Executive.

    “Jesslyn Radack–who knows how aggressively Obama’s DOJ has targeted those who free information as well as anyone–discusses the legal futility of trying to go after Stephen Heymann. But she also notes that the real remedy to prevent more people from experiencing what Swartz did is to start fixing DOJ. ”

    I realize these thoughts may not be popular on this legal blog, but I think the whole post merits a read:

  9. Sadly, what mespo says is true, but he also identifies the root of the problem: the almost limitless immunity prosecutors enjoy. Their immunity in a just world would extend no further than “honest mistake” and/or “reasonable misadventure”, but in cases like this one where discretion is clearly being abused for political purposes? Yeah, the prosecutors should be held accountable for their actions as a simple matter of justice and equity. In many ways, unlimited or practically unlimited immunity and others shields against liability are a key component in the systemic malfunctions that plague our government and our society.

  10. I suppose it’s just easier to drive a defendant to suicide than it is to go through all that pesky trial nonsense.

    Ortiz’s team must be peopled by a bunch of Fearless Fosdicks who remain reverent to the authority of a corrupt system.

  11. The commentor, above SwarthmoreMom, points out that this Heymann schmuck was a state appointee not federal and not appointed under Obama’s watch. To blame Obama for everything under this day’s sun is a stretch. However, this persecution of people who share truths and documents which need to see the light of day, rises like the sun, as a daily human rights criminal enterprise. Ortiz needs to be prosecuted in the International Court of Human Rights for prosecuting Adam. If you readers would Google: The Judges Trial at Nuremburg– you will see how the United States prosecuted German judges in Nazi Germany for conduct like this Adam prosecution. That is when we were an Exemplary nation, back in the 1946 era when a guy named Harry was our President. After Nixon and The Pentagon Papers it has been all down hill.

  12. From the link posted by DonS:

    Jesslyn Radack…notes that the real remedy to prevent more people from experiencing what Swartz did is to start fixing DOJ.

    “What might be more realistic is for citizens to demand that the Senate Judiciary Committee exercise meaningful oversight over the out-of-control Justice Department, which has waged an unprecedented, unaccountable, brutal war on whistleblowers and hackers, and to create something akin to the Church Committee to investigate the improper monitoring and targeting of hackers, whistleblowers, Occupy participants, journalists, and a numerous other groups of non-violent “offenders” who’ve done nothing to harm anyone or the country, and have been acting purely in the public interest.”

    It would be a good start (though SJC Chairman Patrick Leahy has been lax in examining any Obama Administrations abuses).

    But there is one action Obama could take today that would both address some of the problems with his dysfunctional DOJ and attest he means to change things systematically: Fire DOJ’s Criminal Division head, Lanny Breuer.

    Lanny Breuer is not the only reason Obama’s DOJ has been so aggressive (though he has been instrumental in ensuring it ignores bank crimes). There are far more senior and far less senior people who have fostered DOJ’s overreach. But Breuer runs this system. Moreover, as the head of this system of prosecutorial overreach, he has actually explicitly rewarded abuse.

    If we want to fix the injustice that was done to Aaron Swartz, we need to fix the aspects of the system that rewarded such behavior. We need to fix the law that empowered the prosecutors gunning for him. We need to put some breaks on DOJ’s power. And we should start by getting rid of the guy who has fostered this culture of abuse for the last four years.

    (DonS, Thanks for the link.)

  13. Limitless immunity, won loss stats to prove you Are good prosecutor and the current trend to go after defenseless defendants with charges that are beyond any reason basis all contribute to the culture that allowed this prosecuter to cause Mr. Swartz’s death. Is Obama at fault? Yes, his continued belief and policy that whistleblowers, advocates, liberals, protesters of the human rights and workers rights variety should be treated like murders has lead to this state of affairs. Mr. Swartz’s treatment is not abnormal and is not confined to federal prosecutors. While we turn a blind eye to war criminals and corporate criminals we double down on human rights advocates and the defenseless. Well, it looks good that we are putting someone in prison., right? What a country we have become.

    Sad, very sad.

  14. “What a country we have become.

    Sad, very sad.” -Justice Holmes

    Yep. And most still don’t know the half of it…

  15. Sometimes, a person who has been subjected to unbearable abuse simply commits suicide.

    Sometimes, a person who has been subjected to unbearable abuse murders other people.

    Sometimes, a person who has been subjected to unbearable abuse murders other people prior to committing suicide.

    Sometimes, a person who has been subjected to unbearable abuse so effectively forgives the abuse and those whose actions were subjectively abusive as to never, never ever, retaliate, and, instead of retaliating, puts almost the whole of the person’s achievable effort into understanding why some people inflict unbearable abuse on some other people.

    Since I was born, in May of 1939, I have been subjected to beyond-unbearable abuse many times. Emotional abuse in kindergarten. Physical abuse in second grade. Sexual abuse during the first half of my sophomore year in high school. Academic abuse during the writing and defending of my doctoral dissertation in graduate school. Financial abuse by the Door County Circuit Court following the deaths of our son and daughter-in-law when their Mercury Sable automobile exploded, at least in part because of many spot welds that were not properly fused.

    What had become vividly clear to me prior to my starting kindergarten was people who are abusive being so in response to their having been abused, a pattern that I find can be traced back before the dawn of recorded human history.

    I am autistic. My medical records at the North Shore Clinic (I have a copy for continuing care purposes) state, in part, “Autism. High Functioning.:”

    The identity of public school employees is a matter of public record, therefore, public school employees do not have privacy as to their employment status. So, at least, is my understanding.

    There exist many forms of stage theories of human personal and social development, Erik H. Erikson’s epigenetic chart of psychosocial developmental crises being an example.

    in my work as a Wisconsin Registered Professional Engineer, focused on public safety aspects of the structure of human society, as a theoretical biologist and practical bioengineer, I have also developed a human psychosocial development stage theory, albeit one that has two branches, one branch being the psychosocial development of people who are autism-inadequate, and the other being the psychosocial development of people who are autism-adequate.

    Autism? What is Autism? The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision, defines Autism in terms of diagnostic criteria, which criteria I find to be of the nature of “clinical signs,” by which I intend to mean the internalization of the overt conduct of the person being labeled by a clinician, hence clinical signs are of the clinician and not the clinical subject person, such that palliation of clinical signs (which are internal only to the clinician) is regarded as healing the clinical subject person. Thus, medications which so damage human brain function as to render an abused person incapable of expressing having been abused are regarded as curing mental illness. I was prescribed such medications during a personally horrid encounter with bio-psychiatric ideology, as an exercise of iatrogenic disease, and those medications took me all the way to an oriented-times-zero dementia, but never stopped me from expressing aspects of how I had been abused.

    Having learned, in second grade, at Marshall School, in Eureka, California, during the first about-three-quarters of second grade, what it is to be paddled into agitated catatonia for not lying and not lying by admitting to lying when I was not lying, something about the way I am autistic allowed me to understand that my teacher and principle simply did not actually know how to treat me any better than they were treating me, were not familiar with how to treat me better than they were treating me, and did not understand how to treat me any better than they were treating me.

    Since I never wanted to be treated as I was being treated, and never accepted that the way I was being treated was in any meaningful way, actually about me, I took being paddled into agitated catatonia at seemingly random intervals as telling me something about my teacher and principal that they could not otherwise tell me about. So, I forgave them instantly, and forgave them so completely as to never have an impulse to retaliate.

    When I got to third grade, we had moved to Wisconsin to escape from the California schools where paddling in public schools was not a violation of law until, as I understand, 1972.

    Early during third grade, I went to work to understand what had happened to me in Eureka and why. As I was able to read and understand college level stuff by third grade, I searched my parents’ library for information, and came upon Wllliam S. Sadler, “Theory and Practice of Psychiatry,” C. V. Mosby, St. Louis, 1936.

    While reading that book, I came upon the word, “autism.” I looked up “autism” in the Glossary at the back of the book, where I found, “Autism. The state of introversion. A mental state characterized by a tendency to turn away from the outside world—to become self-centered.”

    That definition of autism is, in my view, far more based on Eugen Bleuler’s notions of autism than those of Leo Kanner or Hans Asperger, both of whom were yet to publish their work on aspects of autism when Sadler wrote his book.

    Well before I was 18 months of age, and, to the best of my recall, before I began talking in English language sentences of two or more words, I had recognized that making mistakes and learning were the same process, the only difference being whether what is learned is deemed acceptable learning or unacceptable learning, and I had recognized that there are many ways to do something poorly for every way to do it well, and I had recognized that the mistaken notion of people making avoidable mistakes was, itself an unavoidable mistake whenever it happened to happen.

    No one has ever been able to demonstrate to me that the notion of making avoidable mistakes is other than a form of psychotic delusion. No one has ever been able to demonstrate to me that the notion of tort liability is other than a psychotic delusion. No one has ever been able to demonstrate to me that the social convention of the notion of guilt is other than a psychotic delusion. No one has ever been able to demonstrate to me that punishing people for making mistakes is other than abusive. No one has ever been able to demonstrate to me that holding people accountable, in terms of overt conduct, to the hypothetical standard of the legal fiction of “a reasonable person” who can not only readily do unreasonable things with legal impunity, but can easily do impossible things without impediment of any form of objective reality, is other than abusive, and sometimes shatteringly abusive.

    No one has ever been able to demonstrate to me that it is possible for any avoidable accident to ever happen, and no one has ever been able to demonstrate that any avoidable accident has ever happened.

    How do I, as an autistic person, recognize an avoidable accident? If an accident was actually avoidable, it, inescapably, was actually avoided, therefore, it never happened,and it is impossible to know what the avoidable accident was because it never was.

    If an accident is unavoidable, it necessarily happens because of the lack of any way to avoid it; therefore, the only accidents that ever actually happen are the accidents that were actually unavoidable when they were actually unavoided.

    In my world, tort liability is the essence of any and every model of a tortious (and comparably torturous) “hell” that I can ever yet imagine.

    What my life circumstances allowed me to do is to reject from my life every form of socially-mandated delusion that I have been able to recognize.

    Yes, I am aware that socially conventional definitions of delusion prohibit the existence of socially mandated delusions, but, for me, that prohibition itself is only one more socially mandated delusion.

    With enough people and enough independent assortment of genotypic and phenotypic traits, sooner or later, if the core of the enigma of human hateful destructiveness ever rises to conscious awareness, sooner or later, someone will become aware enough of the mechanism of human hateful destructiveness as to become capable of understanding, designing, and implementing a remedy for hateful destructiveness.

    Is it possible that I may have a chance, as a bioengineer, to accomplish the necessary design and development of a remedy for human hateful destructiveness that will bring the epoch of humanity’s war against itself and its environs to an end without first bringing humanity to an end?

    My playing around with system dynamics suggests that someone may yet accomplish that life-sparing task. Whether I will be able to do that, I find it yet ambiguous.

    What I find is not ambiguous is my lifelong observation to the effect that no mistake (all accidents are forms of mistakes, just as all mistakes are forms of accidents, to me) ever made either could or should have been avoided, this being true regardless of the nature of the mistake made or its consequences.

    Therefore, the legal notion of avoidable accidents and tortious liability is itself an unavoidable accident regarding the nature of accidents.

    It would take actually demonstrating only one tangible accident that actually happened that was actually avoidable to render my life work tangibly moot.

    Why is no such actual, tangible demonstration extant?

    My wife, for one, has promoted the notion that, for my bioengineering word to be useful to the legal profession, I need to not only demonstrate what is apparently, from a biological perspective, in error regarding the legal profession’s model of reality, but I also need to have developed the remedy for that error.

    The remedy for the error of the Adversarial System of Law and Jurisprudence is to remove adversarial aspects from the System of Law and Jurisprudence, for it is those aspects which corrupts the legal profession via the deception and dishonesty of time-corrupted learning.

    I surmise that the only really significant factor that distinguishes me from Aaron Swartz, Carmen M.Ortiz, Stephen Heymann, James Holmes, Adam Lanza, John Wayne Gacy, Jeffrey Dahmer, J. Edgar Hoover, Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Louis Slotin, Benjamin LIbet, and almost every other human person to live during the past 20,000 or so years is my being so profoundly autistic as to have never been able to learn to “think in words or pictures, and perhaps thereby being uncommonly able to recognize socially mandated delusions with apparently uncommon acumen.

    Actually, tangibly, demonstrate the actual, tangible happening of one actually, tangibly avoidable accident (hypotheticals don’t count), and I will admit to the error of my lifelong ways and the error of my lifelong work.

    Given the number of court cases in which judgment was rendered for the plaintiff in a tortious liability case, liability on account of the cause of liability having been adjudged to have been avoidable, it ought to be simple to accomplish that actually tangible demonstration of an actual tangibly avoidable accident, unless such accidents cannot have actually tangible existence.

    It is my observation that profoundly truthful people tend to have formidable social difficulties. It is my observation that profoundly autistic people tend to have formidable social difficulties. It is my observation that profoundly genderqueer people tend to have formidable social difficulties.

    Courtesy of some caring and capable physicians, my sex hormones changed, surgically, from testosterone supplied by testicles to no such hormones for a little while, Then a caring and capable endocrinologist prescribed Premarin and Provera. Then I got to the typical age of menopause, and the caring and capable endocrinologist prescribed a form of alendronate for osteoporosis minimization.

    For a time, I was an active member of the Chicago Gender Society, a group of TV/TS folks whom I found to be wonderfully decent. At one meeting, another member asked me, “Why don’t you cross-dress?”

    For lack of funds, I never bought clothes deemed socially appropriate for someone taking Premarin and Provera who has minimal (adrenal-only?) testosterone levels.

    To, “Why don’t you cross-dress,” I replied, “What makes you think I am not cross-dressed now?”

    At that time, my inner identity was predominantly female, my hormones were female, and I was cross-dressed in supposedly male clothes.

    I cross-dress in more than one way, not merely with fabric in the form of conventional clothes, I cross-dress as someone who can pass, in casual encounters, as not being profoundly autistic.

    And yet, my affective aspects writhe in yet-unspeakable agony as I observe the flagrantly abusive insensitivity of many people to the sort of life-changing events that took Aaron Swartz to such socially imposed pain as made his suicide his final recourse to pragmatic mercy.

    Is the inner agony of Stephen Heymann any less? My best guess so far, is that his inner agony, socialization trauma generated agony may be vastly greater than what killed Aaron Swartz. Swartz got to kill only one person. In my view, people like Heymann are far more actively murderous than Swartz could ever have been.

    I grieve no less for those who, however wittingly or unwittingly, effectively tortured Aaron Swartz to death than I grieve for Aaron.

    I grieve no less for those kindergarten classmates (perhaps about a third of my classmates) of mine who treated me so abusively for being out as an autistic and transgendered child that, on the third day of kindergarten, walking home beside my mother her right hand holding my left hand, when we reached Rainier Avenue walking east on the north side of Ferdinand Street, in Seattle, it came to my mind that those children could never hurt me again if I pulled my left hand from my mother’s grasp and dove under the rear wheels of a Seattle electric bus that had stopped in front of us, let off and picked up passengers and, still having a green light, pulled in front of us. A tiny fraction of a moment after I realized that I could stop those children from ever again hurting me, it came to me that my diving under the back wheels of that bus would hurt my family a thousand times more than those other children could ever hurt me.

    More than 65 years later, I am slowly getting a sense of a mental model of why the theories espoused by many prosecutors in courts of law so starkly violate their theories in use.

  16. Most high profile cases have an element of political influence in the charge/sentence. The more the defendant afronts or worries the powers to be the greater the punishment.

    I don’t know if it is the case here but it seems to be at least to me. One trick that is often used is to stack up the number of counts and demand the sentences for each be served consecutively. But what in a copyright case constitutes a count? How granular is it?

    One could argue that a defendant copied one single database of records, and one count was charged or the same prosecutor could claim the database contained 100 dossiers so 100 counts or even an aggregate of 10,000 pages and hence 10,000 counts. Yet, the defendant dowloaded and published the information in one act but can be charged as if he made multiple acts.

    An argument to my above paragraph might be that a fraudster could download a database of 10,000 bank account numbers from 10,000 individuals so why would this not constitute 10,000 counts. I would say that in that case there were 10,000 individuals involved as victims. I don’t see in the copyright case the documents were independently owned, they were aggregate properties of the university.

  17. All the papers Aaron ‘stole’ became public 4 days before his death.
    No let up from prosecutor.
    He stole nothing.
    He made no profits, in fact the prosecution made him spend all his money on defense.

    Drove him into poverty.

    Aaron was going to have to ask his parents to mortgage their family home in order to go on to court.

  18. Professor-While I am in complete agreement with you regarding the over zealous nature of this prosecution, it is beyond misleading to classify Mr. Swartz’s actions as “an effort to make academic papers to the public.” As you correctly pointed out in your earlier post, the underlying action stems from when he “broke into the computer system at MIT through a utility closet using a laptop and a false identity.” Just because Mr. Swartz believes (and again I agree with you on this) that information such as this should be readily available, it does not just justify his above-referenced actions. The over zealousness of the prosecutor is, without question, appalling, but let’s have an honest discussion about what he actually did.

  19. “… we turn a blind eye to war criminals and corporate criminals we double down on human rights advocates and the defenseless …” (Justice Holmes)

    They’re lazy and, more than likely, scared to death of the real bad guys.

  20. I am a little surprised by JT’s headline that the prosecutor was “Linked To Another Suicide Of Defendant.” In my early days in practice, I found myself defending a man charged with manslaughter (a form of homicide) of his friend during a drunken brawl. Before trial, he committed suicide — possibly out of guilt though I will never know for sure. More recently, I represented a man in a civil case who unfortunately committed suicide for reasons unrelated to the case.

    I would not want anyone to say that I was “linked” to two suicides based on this connection though it is undoubtedly true. It’s a bit like the spiteful first mate aboard the Bounty noting in the ship’s log that “Capt. Bligh was sober today.”

    What you you read is less important than what you infer from the statement.

  21. Aaron Swartz’s Politics

    Tuesday, 15 January 2013 14:22 By Matt Stoller,


    Aaron suffered from depression, but that is not why he died. Aaron is dead because the institutions that govern our society have decided that it is more important to target geniuses like Aaron than nurture them, because the values he sought – openness, justice, curiosity – are values these institutions now oppose. In previous generations, people like Aaron would have been treasured and recognized as the remarkable gifts they are. We do not live in a world like that today. And Aaron would be the first to point out, if he could observe the discussion happening now, that the pressure he felt from the an oppressive government is felt by millions of people, every year. I’m glad his family have not let the justice system off the hook, and have not allowed this suicide to be medicalized, or the fault of one prosecutor. What happened to Aaron is not isolated to Aaron, but is the flip side of the corruption he hated.

    As we think about what happened to Aaron, we need to recognize that it was not just prosecutorial overreach that killed him. That’s too easy, because that implies it’s one bad apple. We know that’s not true. What killed him was corruption. Corruption isn’t just people profiting from betraying the public interest. It’s also people being punished for upholding the public interest. In our institutions of power, when you do the right thing and challenge abusive power, you end up destroying a job prospect, an economic opportunity, a political or social connection, or an opportunity for media. Or if you are truly dangerous and brilliantly subversive, as Aaron was, you are bankrupted and destroyed. There’s a reason whistleblowers get fired. There’s a reason Bradley Manning is in jail. There’s a reason the only CIA official who has gone to jail for torture is the person – John Kiriako – who told the world it was going on. There’s a reason those who destroyed the financial system “dine at the White House”, as Lawrence Lessig put it. There’s a reason former Senator Russ Feingold is a college professor whereas former Senator Chris Dodd is now a multi-millionaire. There’s a reason DOJ officials do not go after bankers who illegally foreclose, and then get jobs as partners in white collar criminal defense. There’s a reason no one has been held accountable for decisions leading to the financial crisis, or the war in Iraq. This reason is the modern ethic in American society that defines success as climbing up the ladder, consequences be damned. Corrupt self-interest, when it goes systemwide, demands that it protect rentiers from people like Aaron, that it intimidate, co-opt, humiliate, fire, destroy, and/or bankrupt those who stand for justice.

    More prosaically, the person who warned about the downside in a meeting gets cut out of the loop, or the former politician who tries to reform an industry sector finds his or her job opportunities sparse and unappealing next to his soon to be millionaire go along get along colleagues. I’ve seen this happen to high level former officials who have done good, and among students who challenge power as their colleagues go to become junior analysts on Wall Street. And now we’ve seen these same forces kill our friend.

    It’s important for us to recognize that Aaron is just an extreme example of a force that targets all of us. He eschewed the traditional paths to wealth and power, dropping out of college after a year because it wasn’t intellectually stimulating. After co-founding and selling Reddit, and establishing his own financial security, he wandered and acted, calling himself an “applied sociologist.” He helped in small personal ways, offering encouragement to journalists like Mike Elk after Elk had broken a significant story and gotten pushback from colleagues. In my inbox, every birthday, I got a lovely note from Aaron offering me encouragement and telling me how much he admired my voice. He was a profoundly kind man, and I will now never be able to repay him for the love and kindness he showed me. There’s no medal of honor for someone like this, no Oscar, no institutional way of saying “here’s someone who did a lot of good for a lot of people.” This is because our institutions are corrupt, and wanted to quelch the Aaron Swartz’s of the world. Ultimately, they killed him. I hope that we remember Aaron in the way he should be remembered, as a hero and an inspiration.

    In six days, on January 18th, it’s the one year anniversary of the blackout of Wikipedia, and some have discussed celebrating it as Internet Freedom Day. Maybe we should call this Aaron Swartz Day, in honor of this heroic figure. While what happened that day was technically about the internet, it should be remembered, and Aaron should be remembered, in the context of social justice. That day was about a call for a different world, not just protecting our ability to access web sites. And we should remember these underlying values. It would help people understand that justice can be extremely costly, and that we risk much when we allow those who do the right thing to be punished. Somehow, we need to rebuild a culture that respects people like Aaron and turns away from the greed and rent-extraction that he hated. There’s a cycle in American history, of religious “Great Awakenings”, where new cultural systems emerge in the form of religion, often sweeping through communities of young people dissatisfied with the society they see around them. Perhaps that is what we see in the Slow Food movement, or gay rights movement, or the spread of walkable communities and decline of vehicle miles, or maker movement, or the increasing acceptance of meditation and therapy, or any number of other cultural changes in our society. I don’t know. I’m sure many of these can be subverted. What I do know is that if we are to honor Aaron’s life, we will recognize him as a broad social justice activist who cared about transforming our society, and acted to do so. And we will take up his fight as our own.

  22. ap:

    “Aaron is dead because the institutions that govern our society have decided that it is more important to target geniuses like Aaron than nurture them, because the values he sought – openness, justice, curiosity – are values these institutions now oppose.”


    Ding! Senator Dr. Bill Frist to the long distance diagnostic center, please. Senator Dr. Bill Frist to the long distance diagnostic center. Ding!

  23. mespo727272 1, January 15, 2013 at 4:23 pm


    “Aaron is dead because the institutions that govern our society have decided that it is more important to target geniuses like Aaron than nurture them, because the values he sought – openness, justice, curiosity – are values these institutions now oppose.”


    Ding! Senator Dr. Bill Frist to the long distance diagnostic center, please. Senator Dr. Bill Frist to the long distance diagnostic center. Ding!

    So said mespo727272.


    Ah, the distortions! That quote is Matt Stoller’s, not mine:

    Tuesday, 15 January 2013 14:22 By Matt Stoller,

    I don’t agree with every word of the posting, but it’s an interesting one, for the open-minded.

  24. Mespo, I take you point about the headline, and your general thrust. I suppose it is admirable to give this prosecutor the benefit of the doubt. And the prosecutorial policies of the DOJ; yeah I suppose they should get the benefit of the doubt too. And Obamas’ multiple blown opportunities to advocate for the seemingly more constitutional alternatives; benefit of the doubt there too. Benefit of the doubt all around.

    So, even though they all walk and quack like a duck, it is we who are the deluded ones! Perhaps I have extrapolated from what you no doubt meant as a narrow point. If I took liberties, I hope you will extend the benefit of the doubt as to my good intentions.😉

  25. I would not give Heymann the benefit of the doubt because both cases were very similar. Young men driven to desperation by over prosecution of similar ‘crimes’.

    Does anyone think Aaron would have killed himself if the case had been dropped 4 days before his death? That was when all the papers he ‘stole’ were released to the general public.

    Does anyone think he would still be alive if he was not facing jail time, poverty, the humiliation of asking his parents to mortgage their home, being branded a felon for the rest of his life?

    I know he would still be alive if we had any real, true justice in the so called ‘justice department’.

  26. DonS:

    If I took liberties, I hope you will extend the benefit of the doubt as to my good intentions.


    I always do because people that always go around looking for fights have the uncanny knack of finding them

  27. shano:

    “I know he would still be alive if we had any real, true justice in the so called ‘justice department’.”


    You “know” this to a moral certainty? Maybe you would you like a three day right of rescission to take back this statement like we do with in-home solicitations, consumer credit transactions, and mortgage loans?

  28. Ortiz vs the Health ‘Care’ Multinationals:

    In September, 2010, how Ms Ortiz led the pursuit of a settlement with Forest Pharmaceuticals became apparent. The company was accused of promoting its anti-depressant Celexa for use in adolescents and children. Such drugs have since been shown to increase the risk of suicide by such young patients, and this drug was only approved for adults. At the time, Ms Ortiz said, “Forest Pharmaceuticals deliberately chose to pursue corporate profits over its obligations to the F.D.A. and the American public.” Although the offense may have lead to use of the drug by many adolescents and children, and hence may have lead to some of them attempting or committing suicide, the case was settled only with fines. As is usual in such legal settlements, no individual corporate executive who authorized or lead the off-label and potentially dangerous marketing of the drug was arrested, or accused, and none suffered any negative consequences.


    In October, 2010, how Ms Ortiz led the pursuit of a settlement with GlaxoSmithKline became apparent (look here.) The company was accused of selling drugs that were not what they appeared to be, apparently because the wrong drugs were put in labelled containers. Obviously, taking one drug, like Paxil, GSK’s anti-depressant which has a number of known adverse effects, including suicide risk for adolescents and children as noted above, when a patient is supposed to be taking a wholly different drug could lead to patient harm. At that time, Ms Ortiz said, “We will not tolerate corporate attempts to profit at the expense of the ill and needy in our society — or those who cut corners that result in potentially dangerous consequences to consumers.” Again, while the settlement involved a guilty plea by a GSK subsidiary, again no individual corporate executive who had authority over the drug manufacturing was arrested or accused, much less suffered any negative consequences.

    St Jude Medical

    In January, 2011, Ms Ortiz led the pursuit of a settlement with St Jude Medical (look here). The company was accused of paying kickbacks to doctors to implant its cardiac defibrillators (ICDs) and pacemakers. Obviously, providing kickbacks to doctors may have lead them to plant devices in patients who did not really need them, yet the devices and the implantation procedures can have adverse effects. At that time, Ms Ortiz said, “The United States alleges that St Jude solicited physicians for the studies in order to retain their business and/or convert their business from a competitor’s product.” Again, as is usual, the settlement did not require any executive who authorized or directed the activities leading to the kickbacks suffered any negative consequences.

    So in summary, in three major cases involving unethical practices by big health care corporations that could have put patients at risk, US Attorney Carmen Ortiz provided strong words, but did not apparently seek any punishment of any form of any of the corporate leaders who authorized or directed the bad, and potentially dangerous behavior. Yet in the sorry case of Aaron Swartz, Ms Ortiz charged a gifted computer activist whose alleged crimes certainly did not put any individuals at risk of adverse medical effects or any bad physical outcomes with crimes that if proven would have lead to years in jail and millions in fines for him as an individual.”

  29. Nope mespo, if Aaron still had a healthy bank account and a real secure future as a free man, most likely he would still be living and working as a leader of his generation.

  30. The family and friends of this young man will now have to live with that phantom limb ache … pain in an empty space.

    Oritz and Heymann will also live lives newly and completely defined by the manner in which this young man died. It is a cell of their own construction and an act that will follow them beyond their own deaths through the obituaries that others write about them.

  31. Once again, arrogant prosecutors set out to destroy a human life, knowing full well that they faced no accountability whatsoever. All they needed to do was “expand the law” a bit to accomplish their horrifying goal: no human being can be expected to withstand such pressure. Those who did nothing to stop this, including academics, the media, and members of the current administration, should be deeply ashamed of what they have done. Their silence in the face of another disproportionate assault on reason, this time focused on academic whistle-blowing and satirical “Gmail confessions” in New York, is equally troubling. For documentation on this latest case, see:

  32. What made me so overwhelmingly angry yesterday was the same thing that has been boiling in my gut for the last two years. When the federal government went after him – and MIT sheepishly played along – they weren’t treating him as a person who may or may not have done something stupid. He was an example. And the reason they threw the book at him wasn’t to teach him a lesson, but to make a point to the entire Cambridge hacker community that they were p0wned. It was a threat that had nothing to do with justice and everything to do with a broader battle over systemic power. In recent years, hackers have challenged the status quo and called into question the legitimacy of countless political actions. Their means may have been questionable, but their intentions have been valiant. The whole point of a functioning democracy is to always question the uses and abuses of power in order to prevent tyranny from emerging. Over the last few years, we’ve seen hackers demonized as anti-democratic even though so many of them see themselves as contemporary freedom fighters. And those in power used Aaron, reframing his information liberation project as a story of vicious hackers whose terroristic acts are meant to destroy democracy.

    Reasonable people can disagree about tactics and where and when a particular approach pushes too far. Like Lessig, I often disagreed with Aaron about his particular approach to freeing the world’s information, even if I never disagreed with him about the goal. And one of the reasons why so many hackers and geeks spent yesterday raging against the machine is because so many people in power have been unable to see past the particular acts and understand the intentions and activism. So much public effort has been put into controlling and harmonizing geek resistance, squashing the rebellion, and punishing whoever authorities can get their hands on. But most geeks operate in gray zones, making it hard for them to be pinned down and charged. It’s in this context that Aaron’s stunt gave federal agents enough evidence to bring him to trial to use him as an example. They used their power to silence him and publicly condemn him even before the trial even began.

    Yesterday, there was an outpouring of information about his case, including an amazing account from the defense’s expert witness. Many people asked why people didn’t speak up before. I can only explain my reasoning. I was too scared to speak publicly for fear of how my words might be used against him. And I was too scared to get embroiled in the witch hunt that I’ve watched happen over the last three years. Because it hasn’t been about justice or national security. It’s been about power. And it’s at the heart and soul of why the Obama administration has been a soul crushing disappointment to me. I’ve gotten into a ridiculous number of fights over the last couple of years with folks in the administration over the treatment of geeks and the misunderstanding of hackers, but I could never figure how to make a difference on that front. This was a source of serious frustration for me, even as SOPA/PIPA showed that geeks could make a difference.

    So here we are today, the world lacking a prodigious child whose intellect scared the shit out of everyone who knew him. He became a toy for a government set on showing their strength. And they bullied him and preyed on his weaknesses and sought to break him. And they did. All for the performance of justice. All before he was even tried in a society that prides itself on innocent until proven guilty. Was depression key to what happened on Friday? Certainly. But it wasn’t the whole story. And that’s what makes it hard for me to stomach.

  33. Credit to Elaine M. for the link.

    Breaking Someone With The Law

    By Charles P. Pierce

    “Back when rogue prosecutor Mike Nifong went crazy and ginned up a rape prosecution against several members of the Duke lacrosse team, there was a great deal of horror at how “the system” could have gone so horribly wrong. But it didn’t. It just got aimed for once at people with the financial and social wherewithal to fight back. There are minor-league Mike Nifongs in every precinct house and every federal law-enforcement operation and every DA’s office and all throughout the branch offices of the Department Of Justice. There are “Duke rape cases” happening every day in alleys and on streetcorners of every city, and on the dusty backroads on the outskirts of nowhere. They are there because we want them to be there. The cases happen because we want them to happen. Aaron Swartz ran into this culture here in Boston and now he’s dead, and people are angry at how the system operated in this case. They should be, but they should be angry not because the system failed, but because the system worked. It operated in exactly the way we have said as a society we want it to operate every time we cheer for “terrorist” arrests based on evidence produced by agents of the FBI. It operated in exactly the way we have said as a society it should operate every time we support warrantless wiretaps, or undercover provocateurs, or the denial of counsel to defendants who scare us the most. Our conduct, all of us, is accessorial to his death.”

  34. Simply to repeat what so many here have noted, and linked to, there is a parallel between the ‘poster boy’ prosecution of Swartz, and the multiple other individuals who have been targeted and excessively charged for questioning the corporatist/militarist state.

    And as is typical when the power of government is used as a tool to crush questioning and certain non-conformity, the majority of the population are coopted; either in ignorance or in fear-based support.

    Restore some balance before it’s too late


    Boston Globe story:

  35. @DonS

    And my story is that DOJ locked me up without a criminal charge or a bail hearing because of what I filed in Federal Court — they didn’t prosecute me for obstruction of justice. I verified my documents under penalty of perjury and could have been prosecuted for perjury if I lied.

    They claimed I should be locked up for engaging in abusive litigation but there wasn’t proof that I was an abusive litigant and they sent an email saying they were opposed to an evidentiary hearing on that.

  36. Professor Turley – As much as I may agree that the prosecution may have been somewhat overzealous in the Swartz, this headline and story suggests that he was similarly overzealous and was wrongfully investigating Jonathan James. From what I have read about the James case, that is far from the truth. Jonathan James was a known criminal hacker convicted for breaking into and disrupted various defense agency and NASA systems. The later case Heynman was investigating was the hacking into of a department store chain’s system and the theft of millions of customers account information. James had known links to the ring of hackers that perpetrated this crime. While he indeed may have been innocent, it doesn’t seem to me that it was in any way overzeralous or unwarranted to be investigating James in that case.

    Unfortunately, both James and Swartz decided to end their lives rather than fight. Truly sad, that’s all.

  37. Our legal system has been prosecuting the outliers — and there are myriad ways to do so — for as long as I am aware which, in my personal observation means since the 1960’s. Fine, you say, it’s either legal or it’s not. But the system and penumbra that surrounds the threat of bringing down the weight of the judicial systems to prospectively control behavior — not to simply pursue lawbreakers — turns our justice system on it’s head.

    The Congress enacts laws specifically intended to try to wield a deterrent effect. That’s questionable in itself in many instances (SOPA, e.g., from what I know about it). But for the enforcement/judicial functions to act prescriptively, violates my own understanding of these functions.

  38. Well the # 2 at DOJ Office of Professional Responsibility, William Birney, emailed to me ” it is the longstanding policy of the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) to decline to investigate litigation claims that have been raised, could have been raised, or still may be raised in litigation.”

    So that covers just about everything doesn’t it? — DOJ won’t self regulate

  39. “It is worth noting that the Justice Department could not come up with a single charge for anyone associated with the torture program, including the attorneys who facilitated the program….”

    Justice would have had better success with charging vis-a-vis the “torture program,” if they had Assistant United States Attorney Stephen Heymann assigned to those cases…

  40. The Power Of The Prosecutor

    By Radley Balko Posted: 01/16/2013

    “Prosecutors have enormous power. Even investigations that don’t result in any charges can ruin lives, ruin reputations, and drive their targets into bankruptcy. It has become an overtly political position — in general, but particularly at the federal level. If a prosecutor wants to ruin your life, he or she can. Even if you’ve done nothing wrong, there isn’t a whole lot you can do about it.”

  41. Retired Federal Judge Joins Criticism Over Handling Of Swartz Case

    By David Boeri January 16, 2013

    ““And in the world of punishment, the prosecutor has enormous power and he has the enormous power to make you plead guilty and give up your rights,” Gertner said.

    This is where the judgment of prosecutors, and specifically the judgment of Ortiz, becomes a major issue, Gertner says. She learned on the bench that the power of prosecutors have increased because federal sentencing guidelines have decreased the powers of judges to exercise discretion.

    “So the prosecutor determines the charges and the punishment,” Gertner explained. “Again, once they start the process, once the indictment is brought, the potential for enormous punishment is there and although a judge has some discretion in sentencing, often what the prosecutor wants is what the person gets.

    “When that happens the prosecutor has enormous power and has to exercise that with some degree of fairness and judgment at that end,” she added.

    And this is what Gertner says Ortiz lacked in the case of Aaron Swartz. If the government was willing to recommend four months in prison, Gertner asks, why not two years in a diversion program which would have suspended and dropped charges if he committed no crimes during that period?

    “We don’t wreck your life with a criminal prosecution if we think this kind of attention drawn to what you did is all we need to do,” Gertner said.”


    Timothy B. Lee, Contributor


    Aaron Swartz and the Corrupt Practice of Plea Bargaining

    Carmen Ortiz, the federal prosecutor who hounded Aaron Swartz in the months before his Friday suicide, has released a statement arguing that “this office’s conduct was appropriate in bringing and handling this case.” She says that she recognized that Swartz’s crimes were not serious, and as a result she sought “an appropriate sentence that matched the alleged conduct – a sentence that we would recommend to the judge of six months in a low security setting.”

    That’s funny because the press release her office released in 2011 says that Swartz “faces up to 35 years in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, restitution, forfeiture and a fine of up to $1 million.” And she apparently didn’t think even that was enough, because last year her office piled on even more charges, for a theoretical maximum of more than 50 years in jail.

    If Ortiz thought Swartz only deserved to spend 6 months in jail, why did she charge him with crimes carrying a maximum penalty of 50 years? It’s a common way of gaining leverage during plea bargaining. Had Swartz chosen to plead not guilty, the offer of six months in jail would have evaporated. Upon conviction, prosecutors likely would have sought the maximum penalty available under the law. And while the judge would have been unlikely to sentence him to the full 50 years, it’s not hard to imagine him being sentenced to 10 years.

    In this hypothetical scenario, those 10 years in prison would, practically speaking, have consisted of six months for his original crime (the sentence Ortiz actually thought he deserved) plus a nine-and-a-half-year prison term for exercising his constitutional right to a trial.

    Our Constitution guarantees criminal defendants a wide variety of rights, including the right to a jury of one’s peers, the right to counsel, the right to confront one’s accusers, a privilege against self-incrimination, and so forth. The Supreme Court would never allow a judge to impose a stiffer sentence on a defendant because he took the Fifth Amendment, asked to confront his accuser, or hired an attorney. But none of these rights matter if the defendant never gets to trial. And thanks to the legal fiction that plea bargaining is a voluntary negotiation between the prosecutor and defendant, our justice system effectively gives people dramatically longer sentences for exercising the right to have a trial at all.

    Thanks in part to this kind of coercion, more than 90 percent of defendants waive their right to a jury trial. For the majority of defendants, then, the plea bargaining process is the justice system. As a result, prosecutors wield an immense amount of power with very little accountability.

    It’s not surprising that Ortiz doesn’t see anything wrong with this system. Powerful people rarely see their own power as problematic. But the rest of us should be outraged—not just by Ortiz’s conduct, but by a system that treats thousands of defendants less famous than Swartz the same way.”

  43. “But none of these rights matter if the defendant never gets to trial. And thanks to the legal fiction that plea bargaining is a voluntary negotiation between the prosecutor and defendant, our justice system effectively gives people dramatically longer sentences for exercising the right to have a trial at all.

    Thanks in part to this kind of coercion, more than 90 percent of defendants waive their right to a jury trial. For the majority of defendants, then, the plea bargaining process is the justice system. As a result, prosecutors wield an immense amount of power with very little accountability.”

    AP’s posting from Timothy Lee bears repeating. Plea bargaining is just one of the ills of our criminal justice system. It represents a lop sided negotiation with the Prosecution holding all of the cards. Since going to trial takes such a long time any defendant without means has to either face the tension of charges hanging over them, or in some cases extended jail time while they await trial. The “either/or” presented them is the threat of maximum punishment if they don’t agree to the deal. From a prosecutorial standpoint it is a disincentive to build the best case and find the truth of guilt. The threat alone of maximum jail time makes even innocent defendants willing to just end the tension as quickly as they can.

    Ms. Ortiz’ statement today shows the duplicity which Timothy Lee calls out:

    “The prosecutors recognized that there was no evidence against Mr. Swartz indicating that he committed his acts for personal financial gain, and they recognized that his conduct — while a violation of the law — did not warrant the severe punishments authorized by Congress and called for by the Sentencing Guidelines in appropriate cases. That is why in the discussions with his counsel about a resolution of the case this office sought an appropriate sentence that matched the alleged conduct — a sentence that we would recommend to the judge of six months in a low security setting. While at the same time, his defense counsel would have been free to recommend a sentence of probation. Ultimately, any sentence imposed would have been up to the judge. At no time did this office ever seek — or ever tell Mr. Swartz’s attorneys that it intended to seek — maximum penalties under the law.”

    This key sentence above shows the problems with Ortiz protestations of good will:

    “Ultimately, any sentence imposed would have been up to the judge.”

    If Swartz had accepted the plea bargain he would have plead guilty and then the Judge could well have given him up to 50 years. For many Judges in our system today, imposing let’s say a ten year sentence, in lieu of a 50 year possibility would to their minds be deemed merciful and lenient. To someone, such as Swartz, the 10 years would seem like hell.

    Our justice system is broken in so many ways and while we must keep up the fight against the inequity and support the work of Jonathan Turley and many other brave lawyers, one could still feel despair at the prospect of it ever being reformed.

    Ms. Ortiz ended her statement with this:

    “As federal prosecutors, our mission includes protecting the use of computers and the Internet by enforcing the law as fairly and responsibly as possible. We strive to do our best to fulfill this mission every day.’

    I would translate that to mean” As prosecutors we must protect the interests of Corporations and Bureaucracies to control and benefit from the information available to average citizens. Decriminalize enforcement of
    of issues that should be decided by Civil, rather than Criminal Law!

  44. Sentencing is one thing. Labeling someone a felon for life is another, much less 13 felonies This effectively curtails an individuals future and stigmatizes his life. Losing the right to vote for one thing. Filling out job applications for another.

    Gaining restoration of rights is an onerous proposition as far as the procedures I’m aware of and discourages the vast majority of felons from even trying.

    This prosecution was out to destroy the life and reputation of Swartz as a scapegoat and example. His treatment in charging shows no leniency that would be expected for a first time offender.

  45. Additionally, even if the sentence were plea bargained down to minimum or even no jail time, the remainder of the original sentence that was forgiven still “hangs over” the felons head based on copious restrictions as to behavior and not reoffending. For a critic of the system like Swarz, who’s work in part revolved around challenging power, it would neuter such activity and/or virtually proscribe such action — basically subject to the authorities who would be continually looking over his shoulder during the term of his probation or parole.

  46. It should be perfectly clear to anyone who reads Ortiz’s statement that the woman is clueless as to the depth of her prosecutorial depravity. Thus there will be no change in her behavior as a prosecutor nor in the tactics of the office she leads. Rehabilitation is not possible for those who believe themselves to be infallible.

    Her statement is nothing more than a reaffirmation of the mindset that pushed Swartz to his grave.

    The woman has become a worldwide embarrassment,

    Fire her and be done with it.

  47. The State of Colorado has insurance that is supposed to cover errors and misconduct by government employees. I was criminally prosecuted by a former Colorado state employee, Elizabeth P. Wittemyer. She did not write a statement of probable cause, violating the Rules of Criminal Procedure. I wasn’t arraigned, violating the Rules of Criminal Procedure. She altered a state form. She was not an independent prosecutor but stood to benefit financially because her husband is a real estate speculator and I was in a property dispute with the president of the city council who influenced the value and potential uses of real estate. The criminal summons and complaint was signed only by someone who was not a government employee, violating Colorado statute. Without an applicable statutory basis or discovery, a permanent restraining order was issued against me, based on the argument that there were criminal charges against me. That made me vulnerable to being arrested for violation of the restraining order and 18 months in jail any time I left my house, even if I was still in my yard.

    After 6 months of negative publicity, Wittemyer dismissed the criminal charges against me without having an oral hearing — again violating the Rules of Criminal Procedure, # 41 or was it 42, which requires an oral hearing when charges are dismissed. She then gave a press conference and said that I had a victim and there was probable cause but that a trial would be too expensive — She also refused to have a probable cause hearing.– thus violating my right to confrontation.

    This all cost me a lot of money, in addition to emotional distress, loss of reputation etc. I had to sell my house way below value and move my business.

    Even though the State of Colorado has insurance that should have compensated me I couldn’t even get state officials to talk to me about compensation.

    Furthermore, the City of Steamboat Springs Colorado purchased a $5 Million public officials errors and omissions insurance policy from Colorado Intergovernmental Risksharing Agency. When I called them, their examiner said that he found my name on their computer but had been told to hang up on me. It turns out that CIRSA pays less than 50% of their revenues in claims and don’t even report how much they pay because they lump it with administrative costs. In order to avoid a hearing in federal court, CIRSA arranged for me to be imprisoned by DOJ without a bail hearing, an evidentiary hearing, or a criminal charge. Recently I tried to get the City of Steamboat to evaluate an ordinance violation complaint form that on their website they claim they would do within 72 hours so that I could potentially go back to CIRSA but they refused to evaluate the form. The form that I faxed in compared the zoning to the description of my neighbors’ property that is on-line at Rout County Assessor’s Office. Meanwhile, my former neighbor admitted he s a convicted felon and the verified attorney bills from CIRSA show that the city attorney knew that at least in 2004.

    My problems had started when the City allowed my former neighbor to fence off and convert 6000 square feet of city owned land including paved street that adjoined and provided access to my land. That was a crime under state law. They allowed my neighbor Kevin Bennett who was at that time president of the city council to build two extra buildings that violated the zoning. That was a crime under city law. I was also extorted by the same parties. They charged me in municipal court with not having a trimming license. However, they didn’t even have trimming licenses and never issued one to anyone. I was threatened with 6 months in jail unless I gave up my rights to the end of the street and sold him land for $1, which I did. My husband complained to the police that it was felony extortion. The police went to the D.A. who said that it was not a crime to tell someone that they had to give up land and property access to get relief from a criminal charge or to charge someone with not having a non existent permit.

    So theoretically problems with prosecutorial misconduct could be mitigated through errors and omissions insurance but that won’t help unless there are decent claims handling procedures. CIRSA is classified by the Colorado Division of Insurance as a government entity but the Colorado AG filed in court that they were not a government entity and their lawyer Steven Dawes sent a letter to Chuck Plunkett of the Denver Post saying that CIRSA is not a government entity and therefore isn’t subject to the Colorado Open Records Act. In federal court the magistrate ruled that the public is not an intended beneficiary of CIRSA policies. If an insurance company is private under Colorado law it is supposed to report the ratio of claims paid to policy payments but CIRSA doesn’t do that. If an insurance company is a public entity under Colorado law it is supposed to report its claims handling policies but CIRSA doesn’t do that. A lawyer for the state sent me an email saying that he had arranged for all inquiries about CIRSA to be forwarded to him.

    Lloyds of London also sells prosecutor insurance in the U.S. That isn’t regulated except possibly if it is sold in Kentucky. I have advertisements for Lloyds U.S. prosecutor’s insurance and three pages of bills they paid in my federal lawsuit in which I sued the prosecutor for defaming me at a press conference and for instigating criminal charges without a written statement of probable cause.

  48. It was in 1984 that the Supreme Court ruled that judges are immune from suit for damages and shortly thereafter that the Rules of Professional Conduct for lawyers were watered down.

  49. NOTICE that the Colorado Dept of Regulatory Agencies does not show Records for Lloyds of London, Beazley, Mutual Insurance based in Hamilton Bermuda, or TIG Insurance by Plaintiff Kay Sieverding. Actually titled Motion for Judicial Notice. (Attachments: # 1 Duplicate Notice)(pap, ) (Entered: 03/27/2007)

    This is PACER District of Colorado 02-1950 document 1001

    MOTION for Order to Restrict and Reject Future Filings By Kay Sieverding filed by Defendants P. Elizabeth Wittemyer

    This is PACER District of Colorado 02-1950 document 1005

    MINUTE ORDER: A Motion Hearing is set for 5/11/2007 at 10:30 AM before Judge Edward W. Nottingham regarding 1005 MOTION for Order to Restrict and Reject Future Filings By Kay Sieverding.

    This is PACER District of Colorado 02-1950 document 1007

    Minute Entry for proceedings held before Judge Edward W. Nottingham : Motion Hearing held on 6/1/2007. United States Marshal shall release Ms. Sieverding from custody pending further proceedings.Granting 968 Motion for Reconsideration of Civil Contempt Proceedings ; Denying as Moot 980 Motion to Stay Contempt of Court Proceedings; Denying 995 Motion for Judicial Notice; Granting in part 1005 Motion to Restrict and Reject Future Filings by Kay Sieverding;

    This is PACER District of Colorado 02-1950 document 1023

    So basically what happened is that I complained to the State of Colorado that Lloyds in Chicago had sold prosecutor’s insurance to Wittemyer and I filed in Federal Court about this. Then the USMS sent a fax to the Dane County sheriff saying that I was a federal felony non bond hold, even though I wasn’t charged with a felony or a misdemeanor and even though a federal felony charge requires a grand jury. As a result I was detained as a federal prisoner for three weeks with no criminal charge and no bail hearing and taken to Nottingham in chains.

    The bill to Lloyds was part of the District of Colorado 02-1950 document 465. However, there were also attorney bills from Lettunich & Vanderbloemen that were in that file and those disappeared from the federal court files. The Lloyds bill was also filed in the 10th Circuit by Hall & Evans and is labeled AP-0517. The bill is sent to “underwriters at Lloyd’s London c/o Lord, Bissell & Brook, Attn: Walter Slezak, 115 S. Lasalle St. Chicago Il 60603 and says our file (Hall & Evans) 3368-110; your file CL#660313-1896

    This all happened before Nottingham was publicly exposed for his involvement with prostitutes. The itemized bills sent to Lloyds included a discussion of case assignment issues and then after that my case was transferred to Nottingham.

  50. so basically what I am trying to get at is that Lloyds sold prosecutor’s insurance in Colorado without state or federal regulation (violating the McCarran Ferguson Act), that I have proof of that because Hall & Evans filed a verified bill to Lloyds, and that because I challenged how Lloyds managed the prosecutor’s insurance, I was imprisoned based on a fax that I was a wanted federal felon, even though I wasn’t charged with a felony and there was no grand jury, which is required for a federal felony charge. I’m trying to create a public record documenting this even if I am killed and my computer is broken.

    There are emails to and from the Colorado Division of Insurance about Lloyds prosecutor’s insurance in a file of exhibits in the DC Court of Appeals 10-5149 and there are also some in the District of Columbia 09-0562, both available on PACER.

  51. Let’s see, prosecute a crime with no victims or banksters that left thousands of families destitute, …decisions,… decisions. When they say justice is blind, does that also go for no sense of priorities?

  52. Former Arlington County Virginia prosecutor Helen F. Fahey did something extremely corrupt and dishonest in 1982. I have proof of it but nobody will do anything about it. So every few years I phone her and she answers. I remind her of it (and every single time she can’t remember what she did but insists she did nothing wrong) and she gets all hot and bothered and screams at me on the phone. I have always politely told her, “I just call you to remind you of what you did and of the fact that I think you never were fit to have a license to practice law,” and she hollers like a harpie and hangs up on me, telling me, “Stop calling me” before she does so. I never curse, raise my voice, use any inappropriate language, or say anything other than, “In 1982 you…” and fill in the factual material. I never threaten her. It’s a lot of fun and at least she knows that her wrongdoing has been noted. Every corrupt and dishonest official should realize that his or her wrongdoing is duly noted, even though 99 percent of the time, nothing can be done to really punish them or correct their behavior.

  53. What Steve Hangman did was to deprive Aaron Swartz of his life interest.
    OMG let this be a test case, let this be a test case.

  54. Malisha, you crack me up. Calling a corrupt prosecutor to remind her of her crime. You have some big brass balls there…..
    Steve Hangman indeed. ack

  55. The DOJ essentially admits that Swartz prosecution was political.

    “A Justice Department representative told congressional staffers during a recent briefing on the computer fraud prosecution of Internet activist Aaron Swartz that Swartz’s ‘Guerilla Open Access Manifesto’ played a role in the prosecution, sources told The Huffington Post.

    Swartz’s 2008 manifesto said sharing information was a ‘moral imperative’ and advocated for “civil disobedience” against copyright laws pushed by corporations ‘blinded by greed’ that led to the ‘privatization of knowledge.'”

    A damn fine reason why the concept of sovereign immunity needs to go.

    You $)^(@&$(#$@ in the DOJ won’t prosecute domestic war criminals but you go after a college student because industry doesn’t like having a light shined on their practices?

    Way to go. You should just change your name to Department of Corporate Stoogery.

  56. […] ago. And that was not that’s prosecutor’s first suicide, thanks to her political ambitions: Prosecutor of Aaron Swartz Linked To Another Suicide Of Defendant. Nor was that an isolated incident: do the government’s right supersede the rights of the […]

  57. The DOJ and the Obama Administration have, at the very least, continued all of the bush/cheney policies and, at worse, have doubled down on several policies they claimed they would change or correct upon being elected POTUS. bush/cheney enjoy the badge of honor of being amongst the top 2 most corrupt, incompetent, war profiteering, war criminal cronyistic administrations ever. Nonetheless, Obama is, largely, incompetent and continuing the worst of the policies including the “Patriot Act”, sneak & peak, FISA violations, etc. We need another Watergate to bring Washington in line and to heel, like the dog they are.

  58. “We need another Watergate to bring Washington in line and to heel, like the dog they are.” John D.


    What will it take to bring the truth to the fore…

  59. cerz. Speszony Arnold dolał miodu z dzbana.

    – Arnoldo Gdy nie godzi się posłowi zdawać sprawę… – I dodatkowo tak to ale powiesz kiedyś komturowi.

    W końcu ledwie po to tu
    siedzisz. – Nie inaczej, jakoby zgodność z rzeczywistością.

Comments are closed.