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STATEMENT OF UNITED STATES ATTORNEY CARMEN M. ORTIZ
REGARDING THE DEATH OF AARON SWARTZ

As a parent and a sister, I can only imagine the pain felt by the family and friends of Aaron Swartz, and I want to extend my heartfelt sympathy to everyone who knew and loved this young man. I know that there is little I can say to abate the anger felt by those who believe that this office’s prosecution of Mr. Swartz was unwarranted and somehow led to the tragic result of him taking his own life.

I must, however, make clear that this office’s conduct was appropriate in bringing and handling this case. The career prosecutors handling this matter took on the difficult task of enforcing a law they had taken an oath to uphold, and did so reasonably. 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.

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.

Follow me below the fold for why this is total unadulterated bs.

If her claims are true, why would she have said this in a press release of July 19, 2011

AARON SWARTZ, 24, was charged in an indictment with wire fraud, computer fraud, unlawfully obtaining information from a protected computer, and recklessly damaging a protected computer. If convicted on these charges, 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 didn't stop there: later on in the fall she added 9 more charges, making the possible total 50 years in the slammer.

And the bolded section is also a cya lie. They threatened to suggest 7 years if Swartz didn't take the plea agreement, in effect labeling himself as a felon for life and spending time in a cell when he couldn't spend a semester @ Stanford.

Again from Techdirt

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.

Prosecutors routinely threaten someone w more jail time to get the plea agreement, effectively penalizing them for going to trial.
Some experts say the process has become coercive in many state and federal jurisdictions, forcing defendants to weigh their options based on the relative risks of facing a judge and jury rather than simple matters of guilt or innocence. In effect, prosecutors are giving defendants more reasons to avoid having their day in court.

“We now have an incredible concentration of power in the hands of prosecutors,” said Richard E. Myers II, a former assistant United States attorney who is now an associate professor of law at the University of North Carolina. He said that so much influence now resides with prosecutors that “in the wrong hands, the criminal justice system can be held hostage.”

One crucial, if unheralded, effect of this shift is now coming into sharper view, according to academics who study the issue. Growing prosecutorial power is a significant reason that the percentage of felony cases that go to trial has dropped sharply in many places.

NYT link

At least MIT has expressed some soul-searching in this ghastly case. The prosecutor, not-so-much.

Shame on her and Heymann, remorseless thugs, who wield power b/c of a legal degree. What they have in legal degree they lack in humanity. Swartz's attorney told Heymann that Aaron was a suicide risk. Here's the thug's response:

Joining Ortiz in the unhappy spotlight this kind of statement brings is Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Heymann, who took charge of Swartz’s case. Swartz’s lawyer tells Globe columnist Kevin Cullen that he warned Heymann Swartz posed a suicide risk. “His reaction was a standard reaction in that office, not unique to Steve. He said, ‘Fine, we’ll lock him up.’ I’m not saying they made Aaron kill himself. Aaron might have done this anyway. I’m saying they were aware of the risk, and they were heedless.”
RIP Aaron, you gave the world more in your short life than many of us can ever give in our long ones.

Originally posted to hester on Fri Jan 18, 2013 at 06:48 AM PST.

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