Jury selection to begin soon in Silk Road trial

The trial begins next month.

Mar 1, 2020, 3:38 pm*

Tech

Patrick Howell O'Neill 

Patrick Howell O'Neill

The case against Ross Ulbricht, the alleged mastermind behind the billion-dollar Dark Net drug bazaar Silk Road, is headed to jury selection.

Potential jurors will begin their questionnaires on the afternoon of Dec. 29. By Jan. 1, both sides of the case will have submitted strikes against jurors they wish to see excluded. The jury will be selected, and the trial will commence, on Jan. 5, which marks a delay of two months from the original start date.

It’s been one year and three months since police arrested Ulbricht in San Francisco on charges of drug trafficking, computer hacking, money laundering, engaging in a criminal enterprise, and murder for hire. Soon after, authorities tacked on charges of trafficking fraudulent identification, narcotics trafficking, and distribution of narcotics by means of the Internet.

The questionnaire that jurors fill out asks for basic biographical information, whether jurors would face any logistical difficulties if called to serve, and several other key questions:

  • Have you, a family member or close friend ever worked in the computer or information technology industries, as a programmer, or for any tech company?

  • Have you seen, heard or read anything about Ross Ulbricht or the Silk Road website?

  • The questionnaire delves deep into potential juror’s computer and Internet habits, including their familiarity and potential use of Bitcoin. One can surmise that Bitcoin users will not be allowed on this jury.

  • The funniest question asks, “Have you seen, heard or read anything about Dread Pirate Roberts or ‘DPR,’ other than specifically and only in relation to the movie or the book, ‘The Princess Bride’?”

The questionnaire also asks if the potential juror has ever been a victim of identity theft.

Illustration by Jason Reed

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*First Published: Dec 3, 2014, 3:37 pm