Some new information on the prosecution of Aaron Swartz...
State prosecutors who investigated the late Aaron Swartz had planned to let him off with a stern warning, but federal prosecutor Carmen Ortiz took over and chose to make an example of the Internet activist, according to a report in Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly.
Middlesex County's district attorney had planned no jail time, "with Swartz duly admonished and then returned to civil society to continue his pioneering electronic work in a less legally questionable manner," the report (alternate link) said. "Tragedy intervened when Ortiz's office took over the case to send 'a message.'"
The Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly report was written by Harvey Silverglate, a prominent Cambridge criminal defense lawyer whose clients have included Michael Milken and Leona Helmsley. Silverglate, the author of Three Felonies A Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent, is of counsel to the firm that initially represented Swartz in his attempts to defend himself against 13 felony charges brought by Ortiz's office. Those charges carried a maximum penalty of 50 years in prison.
Silverglate told CNET today that:
"Continuance without a finding" was the anticipated disposition of the case were the charge to remain in state court, with the Middlesex County District Attorney to prosecute it. Under such a disposition, the charge is held in abeyance ("continued") without any verdict ("without a finding"). The defendant is on probation for a period of a few months up to maybe a couple of years at the most; if the defendant does not get into further legal trouble, the charge is dismissed, and the defendant has no criminal record. This is what the lawyers expected to happen when Swartz was arrested for "trespassing at MIT." But then the feds took over the case, and the rest is tragic history.
Be sure to also read the mention of the efforts by Ortiz to seize a family-owned motel, that failed -- thankfully -- and the stinging rebuke she received from the judge in the case. The case screams "Abuse of power!"
Up with Chris Hayes talked about the ongoing legacy of Aaron Swartz on Saturday: