In Memory of Aaron Swartz

Cases of prosecutorial overreach, underreach, or no attempt made to reach — how’s that equitable justice for all?

Below, you’ll find the Reasoning & Rationale to what we call a Bill-Request. Once certain milestones are met, as defined HERE, lawyers will be called upon to draft what will then become a Bill-Demand to Congress and the President.

Published in 2015

Aaron Hillel Swartz was a brilliant young man with a good heart and a treasure trove of talent.

A child prodigy with computers, he would in 2002, at age 15, work with Harvard University’s Lawrence Lessig on advancing Lessig’s Creative Commons to “keep the internet … free and open.”

In 2010, Aaron became a research fellow at Harvard’s Safra Research Lab on Institutional Corruption, directed also by Prof. Lessig who’s built a sterling reputation for wanting a better world wide web for the public at-large, an internet with access that’s untaxed by frivolous tolls and unencumbered by byzantine rules and regulations.

On Jan 6 2011, Aaron Swartz was arrested for an act of hacktivism that should have been brought down to nothing more than a misdemeanor with a punitive fine attached. Instead, a gross miscarriage of justice happened.

For Aaron had crossed a line that certain corporate interests did not want crossed, and his trespass had threatened a sizable source of (arguably unjustifiable) income to them. We would argue that Aaron had also crossed a line that revolving-door government officials did not want crossed — for he may have found, in the immense quantity of information he’d downloaded (and could download in even greater immensity the next time), a collage to collect evidence of how corrupt the whole ‘system’ had become.

For example, in 2008 Aaron’s analytics of some 441,000 downloaded legal articles, to determine their source of funding, uncovered systematic and systemwide corruption engulfing academia to media and just about everything in-between, with the political organism in Washington DC aiding and abetting in its proliferation.

So, for his actions 3 years later, in 2011, Aaron got slammed with a felony — then another, then another, until a total of 13 federal crimes had been heaped upon his head, all-in-all enough to send the 25 year old to prison for a lifetime, if found guilty on all counts and sentenced to the max.

True, he had rejected a deal that would’ve had him plead guilty to 13 felonies and serve only 6 months in a federal penitentiary, but as the movie The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz would document, he cared deeply about American politics, and it being clean and accountable and transparent, and he was rightly concerned that being branded a convicted felon would bar him from even visiting the White House someday, or serving the American people in some honorable way. So he rejected the plea — and entered a realm of absolute and sheer hell for that decision.

On Jan 11 2013, just days after the feds rejected a counteroffer for leniency by his attorney, Aaron took his life, taking with it all the good he could’ve done for this country, if given half a chance.

Lawrence Lessig would in his eulogy entitled Prosecutor as Bully say:

“The question this government needs to answer is why it was so necessary that Aaron Swartz be labeled a felon. For in the 18 months of negotiations, that was what he was not willing to accept.

“For remember, we live in a world where the architects of the financial crisis regularly dine at the White House — and where even those brought to “justice” never even have to admit any wrongdoing, let alone be labeled felons.”

With the backing of the Economic Party, this Bill-Request seeks:

In extenuating circumstances, of politically or economically motivated persecution in particular, a right of access for the accused to a federally funded Public Defender’s Office, stacked high with attorneys of the highest quality, education, experience, and compensation, for 4 reasons…

Reason 1. Take Aaron’s case for example. Although he’d made lots of money developing valuable companies and valuable ideas, his legal costs ran into the seven figures and pretty much wiped him out financially — and he was not one to ask for handouts forever. An upcoming million dollar trial, and its uncertain end, fueled the destruction of his will to live.

Reason 2. We’d get a lot less bad plea deals where non-violent offenders, invariably poor, are finding themselves a decade (or more) in prison.

Reason 3. We’d get a lot better law enforcement action and a lot more due process, and thus far fewer erroneous convictions.

Civil rights violations, Miranda rights violations, unnecessary use of force, use of excessive force, withholding of exculpatory evidence, planting or tampering of evidence or outright fabrication of evidence, bearing of false witness, production of false witness, questionable use of jailhouse snitches — there can now be an amply-funded defense there to hold responsible the mis-carrier or mis-carriers of justice.

Reason 4. In the extenuating circumstances that warrant access for the accused to a federally funded Public Defender, there’d be a Chinese Wall (so to speak) erected between prosecutor and defender, in the interest of a defendant’s right to fair trial.

In addition to all of the aforementioned, this Bill-Request also seeks safe-haven for whistleblowers.

To, in brief, illustrate:

Richard M. Bowen’s testimony before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (See here for excellent articles on that by William K Black) should have been enough to send a bunch of high-level bankers to prison, including a few at the very top and maybe even one or two in the corner suite. Yet everyone — from the panelists on the FCIC, on up to the U.S. Attorney General — let it all slide, in effect discarding and disrespecting the efforts of Mr. Bowen to do right in a world turned upside down on its moral compass.

This Bill-Request in addition seeks: That the deep-pocketed and politically-connected guilty don’t get to “dine at the White House” while the often indigent innocent get to rot in a cell.

This Bill-Request in conclusion seeks: Fair & Equitable justice for all.

You’ve just read the full description to the reasoning & rationale for this Bill-Request. Your vote in support of it, is appreciated.

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