Ulbricht's lawyers defense that the FBI illegally collected evidence in the case against him has been rejected by Judge Katherine Forrest on the grounds that Ulbricht insufficiently established that the server searched was his. Wired describes the ruling as based on a technicality. Some reactions to the ruling:
- He hasn't admitted guilt, so he cant be innocent. Fuck me…
- Must the neighbor give testimony that the police were trespassing to invalidate an apprehension? Trespass is presumed, not proven.
- The technicality known as "technically, i gotta eat, and these people are paying for it."
- "The government posits two standards of behavior: one for private citizens, who must adhere to a strict standard of conduct construed by the government," read a final filing Tuesday. "The other for the government, which, with its elastic ability to effect electronic intrusion, can deliberately, cavalierly, and unrepentantly transgress those same standards." That part at least is worth taking away. The very definition of a rogue state is "one which construes itself more powerful than the private citizen."
Case 1:14-cr-00068-KBF Document 89 Filed 10/10/14 Page 1 of 38
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
DATE FILED: OCT 1 0 2014
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
OPINION & ORDER
ROSS WILLIAM ULBRICHT,
a/k/a "Dread Pirate Roberts,"
a/k/a "Silk Road,"
———————————————————————KATHERINE B. FORREST, District Judge:
On February 4, 2014, Ross Ulbricht ("defendant" or "Ulbricht") was indicted
on four counts. (ECF No. 12.) On September 5, 2014, he was arraigned on
superseding indictment Sl 14 Cr. 68 (KBF) (the "Indictment"). The Indictment
charges Ulbricht with the following crimes: Narcotics Trafficking (Count One),
Distribution of Narcotics by Means of the Internet (Count Two), Narcotics
Trafficking Conspiracy (Count Three), Continuing Criminal Enterprise ("CCE")
(Count Four), Conspiracy to Commit and Aid and Abet Computer Hacking (Count
Five), Conspiracy to Traffic in Fraudulent Identification Documents (Count Six),
and Money Laundering Conspiracy (Count Seven). (ECF No. 52 ("Ind.").) Ulbricht's
trial is scheduled to commence on November 10, 2014.
Before this Court is defendant's motion to suppress virtually all evidence in
the case, for a bill of particulars, and to strike surplusage. (ECF No. 46.) For the
reasons set forth below, the motion is DENIED.
Case 1:14-cr-00068-KBF Document 89 Filed 10/10/14 Page 2 of 38
Allegations against Ulbricht
Ulbricht is charged with seven separate crimes-all involving the creation,
design, administration and operations of an online marketplace known as "Silk
Road." The Government alleges that Ulbricht created Silk Road (Ind. if 1) and that
he has been in control of all aspects of its administration and operations (Ind.
The Government's charges against Ulbricht are premised upon a claim that through
Silk Road, defendant enabled and facilitated anonymous transactions in a variety of
illicit goods and services including, inter alia, narcotics, fake identification
documents, and materials used to hack computers, and that he conspired,
participated directly in, or aided and abetted others in substantive crimes.
Silk Road is alleged to have operated on the Tor network ("Tor").
(Declaration of Christopher Tarbell
4-5, ECF No. 57 ("Tarbell Deel.").) The Tor
network is designed to conceal the Internet Protocol ("IP") addresses of the
computers operating on it, "including servers hosting websites on Tor, such as Silk
Road." (Tarbell Deel.
if 4.) The Government alleges that Silk Road also supported
anonymity through its reliance on "Bitcoin" as a method of payment. 1 (Ind. if 28.)
The use of Bitcoins concealed the identities and locations of users transmitting and
receiving funds. (Ind.
if 28.) The Government alleges that over the period of time it
was up and running, Silk Road was used by several thousand drug dealers and well
over one hundred thousand buyers worldwide to purchase illegal narcotics and
1 Bitcoin is the name of an encrypted online currency. It is managed through a private network and
not through any Government, central bank or formal financial institution. The Government does not
allege that the use of Bitcoin itself is illegal.
Case 1:14-cr-00068-KBF Document 89 Filed 10/10/14 Page 3 of 38
illicit goods, and that it was also used to launder hundreds of millions of dollars
derived from these transactions. (Ind.
2.) Ulbricht himself is alleged to have
made commissions worth tens of millions of dollars from these sales. (Ind.
The Investigation of Ulbricht
The instant motion is primarily concerned with whether the Government's
methods for investigating Ulbricht violated his Fourth Amendment right to be free
from unreasonable searches and seizures. Importantly, while the Government
alleges that Ulbricht and Silk Road are one and the same, Ulbricht has not
conceded that he created Silk Road, or that he administered or oversaw its
operations, or even that he used or accessed it at all. Ulbricht has not submitted a
declaration or affidavit attesting to any personal privacy interest that he may have
in any of the items searched and/or seized and as to which his motion is directed.
Ulbricht's lawyer has, however, argued that his "expectation of privacy in his
laptop, Google or Facebook accounts" is "manifest" (ECF No. 83 at 2 n.2), and the
Government has stipulated to his "expectation of privacy" in those (ECF No. 85). 2
The Government's investigation involved, inter alia, the imaging and
subsequent search of a server located in Iceland (the "Icelandic server") in July
2013. Based in large part on the results of information learned from the Icelandic
server, the Government then obtained various court orders for pen-registers and
trap and trace devices (the "Pen-Trap Orders"), and warrants to seize and then
On October 7, 2014, the Court issued an order in which it provided the defendant a "final
opportunity" to submit a declaration or affidavit establishing some privacy interest in the items
searched and/or seized. (ECF Nos. 76-77.) By letter dated October 7, 2014, his lawyer responded
that "Mr. Ulbricht rests on his papers already submitted." (ECF No. 83.)
Case 1:14-cr-00068-KBF Document 89 Filed 10/10/14 Page 4 of 38
search a number of other servers located within the United States, as well as a
laptop associated with Ulbricht and his Facebook and Gmail accounts. In total, the
Government obtained 14 warrants and court orders over the course of its
investigation. (Declaration of Joshau L. Dratel
i! 3(a)-(n), ECF No. 47 ("Dratel
Deel.").) Those warrants and orders are as follows:
Warrant No. 1: Windstream "JTan" server #1 (Pennsylvania) (9/9/13);
Warrant No. 2: Windstream "JTan" server #2 (Pennsylvania) (9/9/13);
Warrant No. 3: Voxility server (California) (9/19/13);
Warrant No. 4: Windstream servers assigned host numbers 418, 420
and 421 (Pennsylvania) (10/1113);
Warrant No. 5: Voxility server with IP addresses 220.127.116.11 and
18.104.22.168 (California) (10/1113);
Warrant No. 6: Samsung laptop with MAC address 88-53-2E-9C-81-96
Warrant No. 7: Premises at 235 Monterey Boulevard (California)
Warrant No. 8: The Facebook account associated with username
"rossulbricht" (California) (10/8/13);
Warrant No. 9: The Gmail account firstname.lastname@example.org (10/8/13);
Pen-Trap Order No. 1: To Comcast re IP address 22.214.171.124
Pen-Trap Order No. 2: To Comcast re IP address 126.96.36.199
Pen-Trap Order No. 3: Re the wireless router with IP address
67 .169.90.28 located at 235 Monterey Boulevard (California) (9/20/13);
Pen-Trap Order No. 4: Re certain computer devices associated with
MAC addresses including 88-53-2E-9C-81-96, (9/20/13); and
Case 1:14-cr-00068-KBF Document 89 Filed 10/10/14 Page 5 of 38
Pen-Trap Order No. 5: Re the wireless router with IP address
188.8.131.52 located at 235 Monterey Boulevard (California) (9/19/13).
According to defendant, virtually all of the Government's evidence stems from
the initial search of the Icelandic server in July 2013, which occurred before any of
the above warrants issued. 3 The vast bulk of defendant's submission is concerned
with raising questions regarding how the Government obtained the information
that led it to the Icelandic server. One of defendant's lawyers, Joshua Horowitz,
has some technical training, and he asserts that the Government's explanation of
the methods it used is implausible. (See Declaration of Joshua J. Horowitz
17-51, ECF No. 70 ("Horowitz Deel.").) Defendant insists that this Court must
therefore hold an evidentiary hearing to determine whether the methods the
Government asserted it used and that led it to the Icelandic server were in fact its
actual methods or not. (See Memorandum of Law in Support of Defendant Ross
Ulbricht's Pre-Trial Motions to Suppress Evidence, Order Production of Discovery,
for a Bill of Particulars, and to Strike Surplusage at 28-34, ECF No. 48 ("Def.'s
Br."); Reply Memorandum of Law in Support of Defendant Ross Ulbricht's Pre-Trial
Motions to Suppress Evidence, Order Production of Discovery, for a Bill of
Particulars, and to Strike Surplusage at 4-8, ECF No. 69 ("Def.'s Reply Br.").)
Defendant argues that if that search of the Icelandic server was only possible
U.S. law enforcement began working with law enforcement in Iceland on this investigation as early
as February 2013. A server-later determined to no longer be in primary use-was imaged in the
spring or early summer of 2013 ("Icelandic Server #1"). Ulbricht asserts that the process leading to
the imaging of the server may also have been constitutionally infirm. But Icelandic Server #1 is in
all events irrelevant, as the Government has represented that it does not intend to use any evidence
obtained from that server.
Case 1:14-cr-00068-KBF Document 89 Filed 10/10/14 Page 6 of 38
because of a preceding constitutionally infirm investigation, then all subsequent
warrants and court orders based on that search constitute fruits of the poisonous
tree and must be suppressed.
In addition, defendant also asserts that the warrants relating specifically to
the servers located in Pennsylvania (nos. 1, 2 and 4) as well as the warrants
relating to Ulbricht's laptop, Facebook and Gmail accounts (nos. 6, 8 and 9) are
unconstitutional general warrants; and finally that the Pen-Trap Orders were
unlawful because a warrant was required and they failed to include appropriate
minimization procedures. Defendant has retained experienced counsel who
certainly understand Fourth Amendment jurisprudence. It has long been
established-indeed, it is a point as to which there can be no dispute-that (1) the
Fourth Amendment protects the constitutional right of an individual to be free from
unreasonable searches and seizures; (2) the rights conferred by the Fourth
Amendment may not be vicariously asserted; and (3) the Fourth Amendment does
not confer any general right available to anyone impacted by an investigation to
pursue potentially or actually unlawful law enforcement techniques. The only
exception to that is extremely narrow: when law enforcement techniques are so
egregious (defined as actions such as torture, not simply unlawful conduct) as to
violate the Fifth Amendment, a court may suppress the evidence.
Defendant has not asserted a violation of the Fifth Amendment-nor could
he. Defendant has, however, brought what he must certainly understand is a
fatally deficient motion to suppress. He has failed to take the one step he needed to
Case 1:14-cr-00068-KBF Document 89 Filed 10/10/14 Page 7 of 38
take to allow the Court to consider his substantive claims regarding the
investigation: he has failed to submit anything establishing that he has a personal
privacy interest in the Icelandic server or any of the other items imaged and/or
searched and/or seized. Without this, he is in no different position than any third
party would be vis-a-vis those items, and vis-a-vis the investigation that led U.S.
law enforcement officers to Iceland in the first place.
There is no doubt that since defendant was indicted and charged with seven
serious crimes resulting from that initial investigation and the searches that
followed it, he has a "personal interest" in the Icelandic server in a colloquial sense.
But longstanding Supreme Court precedent draws a stark difference between that
sort of interest and what the law recognizes as necessary to establish a personal
Fourth Amendment right in an object or place. To establish the latter, defendant
must show that he has a personal privacy interest in the
a server) or
premises searched, not just that the search of the specific object or premises led to
his arrest. Were this or any other court to ignore this requirement in the course of
suppressing evidence, the court would undoubtedly have committed clear error.
Further, defendant could have established such a personal privacy interest
by submitting a sworn statement that could not be offered against him at trial as
evidence of his guilt (though it could be used to impeach him should he take the
witness stand). Yet he has chosen not to do so.
In short, despite defendant's assertions and the potential issues he and his
counsel raise regarding the investigation that led to the Icelandic server, he has not
Case 1:14-cr-00068-KBF Document 89 Filed 10/10/14 Page 8 of 38
provided the Court with the minimal legal basis necessary to pursue these
assertions. Thus, the declaration submitted by Joshua J. Horowitz, Esq. (ECF No.
70) along with all the arguments regarding the investigation and the warrants
based on it are not properly before this Court. The only arguments that this Court
must consider as a substantive matter are those concerning property and accounts
as to which defendant has an arguable and cognizable (though itself not legally
established) personal privacy interest: the laptop, the Gmail account, and the
SEARCHES AND SEIZURES
The Fourth Amendment
Ulbricht's motion to suppress evidence is premised upon an assertion that the
Government has, or may have, engaged in one or more unreasonable searches and
seizures in violation of the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The
Fourth Amendment protects the people against unreasonable searches and seizures.
U.S. Const. amend. IV. "Ever since its inception, the rule excluding evidence seized
in violation of the Fourth Amendment has been recognized as a principal mode of
discouraging lawless police conduct." Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 12 (1968). In the
absence of a warrant or the applicability of an exception, law enforcement does not
have a general right to enter one's home, rifle through drawers, and take what
might be found therein. See, e.g., United States v. Jenkins, 876 F.2d 1085, 1088 (2d
For reasons the Court does not understand, Ulbricht chose not to submit a declaration claiming any
personal privacy interest and expectation of privacy in the search of 235 Monterey Boulevard or the
wireless router located at those premises.
Case 1:14-cr-00068-KBF Document 89 Filed 10/10/14 Page 9 of 38
Evidence seized in violation of the Fourth Amendment is subject to exclusion
at trial-hence, references to "the exclusionary rule" in Fourth Amendment
jurisprudence. See, e.g., Terry, 392 U.S. at 13. Exclusion ensures judicial integrity
and protects courts from being made a party to "lawless invasions of the
constitutional rights of citizens by permitting unhindered governmental use of the
fruits of such invasion." Id. Direct and indirect evidence may be subject to
preclusion: all evidence that flows directly or indirectly from unlawfully seized
evidence is considered "fruit of the poisonous tree." Wong Sun v. United States, 371
U.S. 471, 484-85 (1963) (the exclusionary rule of the Fourth Amendment extends to
indirect evidence as well as direct evidence).
"[T]he Fourth Amendment protects people, not places." Katz v. United
States, 389 U.S. 34 7, 351 (1967). In Katz, petitioner sought to suppress evidence of
his end of a telephone call, obtained by the FBI after it placed a listening device on
a public telephone booth. Id. at 348-50. The Supreme Court defined the issue not
as one regarding whether a particular physical space was a constitutionally
protected area, or whether physical penetration of a protected area was required for
a Fourth Amendment violation. Id. at 350-51. This is important for this Court's
consideration here of Ulbricht's claims. The Supreme Court in Katz then stated
that the Fourth Amendment cannot be translated into a general constitutional
"right to privacy," nor does it cover some nebulous group of "constitutionally
protected area[s]." Id. A person's general right to privacy-his right to be let alone
by other people-is, like the protection of his property and his very life, left largely
Case 1:14-cr-00068-KBF Document 89 Filed 10/10/14 Page 10 of 38
to the law of the individual states. Id. Thus, "[w]hat a person knowingly exposes to
the public, even in his own home or office, is not a subject of Fourth Amendment
Foreign searches and seizures.
The law has long been clear that the protections of the Fourth Amendment do
not extend to searches conducted outside the United States by foreign law
enforcement authorities. See, e.g., United States v. Lee, 723 F.3d 134, 139 (2d Cir.
2013) ("[T]he Fourth Amendment's exclusionary rule, which requires that evidence
seized in violation of the Fourth Amendment must be suppressed, generally does
not apply to evidence obtained by searches abroad conducted by foreign officials.");
United States v. Busic, 592 F.2d 13, 23 (2d Cir. 1978) ("[T]he Fourth Amendment
and its exclusionary rule do not apply to the law enforcement activities of foreign
authorities acting in their own country."); accord United States v. Peterson, 812
F.2d 486, 490 (9th Cir. 1987).
An exception to this rule is when foreign law enforcement authorities become
agents of U.S. law enforcement officials. See Lee, 723 F.3d at 140 (constitutional
requirements may attach "where the conduct of foreign law enforcement officials
rendered them agents, or virtual agents, of United States law enforcement officials"
(quoting United States v. Maturo, 982 F.2d 57, 61 (2d Cir. 1992))). If, for instance,
U.S. law enforcement was able to and did command and control the efforts of
foreign law enforcement, an agency relationship might be found. United States v.
Getto, 729 F.3d 221, 224 (2d Cir. 2013) (holding that "ongoing collaboration between
an American law enforcement agency and its foreign counterpart in the course of
Case 1:14-cr-00068-KBF Document 89 Filed 10/10/14 Page 11 of 38
parallel investigations does not-without American control, direction, or an intent
to evade the Constitution-give rise to a relationship sufficient to apply the
exclusionary rule to evidence obtained abroad by foreign law enforcement"). The
foreign searches must, however, be "reasonable." In re Terrorist Bombings of U.S.
Embassies in E. Africa, 552 F.3d 157, 167 (2d Cir. 2008) (holding that "foreign
searches of U.S. citizens conducted by U.S. agents are subject only to the Fourth
Amendment's requirement of reasonableness"). 5 As the Supreme Court has
The test of reasonableness under the Fourth Amendment
is not capable of precise definition or mechanical
application. In each case it requires a balancing of the
need for the particular search against the invasion of
personal rights that the search entails. Courts must
consider the scope of the particular intrusion, the manner
in which it is conducted, the justification for initiating it,
and the place in which it is conducted.
Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 559 (1979).
Personal privacy interest.
Supreme Court precedent, binding on this and all courts in this land,
establishes that the "capacity to claim the protection of the Fourth Amendment
depends … upon whether the person who claims the protection of the [Fourth]
Amendment has a legitimate expectation of privacy in the invaded place." Rakas v.
Illinois, 439 U.S. 128, 143 (1978); see also United States v. Watson, 404 F.3d 163,
166 (2d Cir. 2005) (affirming denial of a suppression motion on the basis that the
5 It is unclear whether foreign searches of objects or premises in which only non-citizens have a
privacy interest are subject to the Fourth Amendment's reasonableness requirement. See United
States v. Bin Laden, 126 F. Supp. 2d 264, 276 (S.D.N.Y. 2000) (collecting cases).
Case 1:14-cr-00068-KBF Document 89 Filed 10/10/14 Page 12 of 38
defendant had failed to show an expectation of privacy). This principle derives
from the Supreme Court's holding in Katz v. United States, in which the Court
found that while common law trespass had long governed Fourth Amendment
analysis, the capacity to claim the protection of the Fourth Amendment depended
first and foremost on a personal expectation of privacy in the invaded place. 389
U.S. at 352-53. The Court found that even though petitioner was located in a public
telephone booth when the search occurred, "the Government's activities in
electronically listening to and recording the petitioner's words violated the privacy
upon which he justifiably relied … and thus constituted a 'search and seizure'
within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment." Id. at 353.
The law therefore leaves no doubt that Fourth Amendment rights are based
on a personal, subjective expectation of privacy; they are rights of a person, not
rights of a "thing"-whether that thing be a server, a car, or a building. If a
person-a human-cannot establish a cognizable personal expectation of privacy in
the place or thing searched, there is no Fourth Amendment issue and no reason to
undertake a Fourth Amendment analysis.
How, then, is one's interest in a place or thing established? It must be
established by a declaration or other affirmative statement of the person seeking to
vindicate his or her personal Fourth Amendment interest in the thing or place
searched. See, e.g., United States v. Smith, 621 F.2d 483, 487 (2d Cir. 1980)
(defendants had no legitimate expectation of privacy in trunk of car where they did
not assert ownership of car, knowledge of trunk's contents, or access to trunk);
Case 1:14-cr-00068-KBF Document 89 Filed 10/10/14 Page 13 of 38
United States v. Montoya-Echevarria, 892 F. Supp. 104, 106 (1995) ("The law is
clear that the burden on the defendant to establish [Fourth Amendment] standing
is met only by sworn evidence, in the form of affidavit or testimony, from the
defendant or someone with personal knowledge."); United States v. Ruggiero, 824 F.
Supp. 379 (S.D.N.Y. 1993) ("It is well established that in order to challenge a
search, a defendant must submit an affidavit from someone with personal
knowledge demonstrating sufficient facts to show that he had a legally cognizable
privacy interest in the searched premises at the time of the search."). The Supreme
Court has also established that the defendant-not the Government-bears the
burden of proving that he has a legitimate expectation of privacy. Rawlings v.
Kentucky, 448 U.S. 98, 104 (1980); see also Watson, 404 F.3d at 166.
The requirement that one must have a personal expectation of privacy at the
time of the search in the thing or place searched is not novel and has been
repeatedly litigated. One can easily see why: even if one did not have an
expectation of privacy at the time of the search, the search might lead to
inculpatory evidence. At that point, the now-defendant might certainly desire that
the thing or place searched had been left alone.
In Rakas, the Supreme Court reviewed the question of whether passengers in
a vehicle that was searched could move to suppress the evidence obtained thereby.
439 U.S. at 130-32. In that case, the police received a report of a robbery and the
description of a getaway car. Id. at 130. Shortly thereafter, an officer stopped and
searched a vehicle matching that description. Id. The search revealed ammunition
Case 1:14-cr-00068-KBF Document 89 Filed 10/10/14 Page 14 of 38
and a firearm. Id. Petitioners had been passengers in the vehicle and were
arrested following the search. Id. Neither the car nor the evidence seized belonged
to them. Id. at 131. They moved to suppress the evidence on the basis that the
search violated their rights under the Fourth Amendment. Id. at 130-31.
The question before the Court was presented as whether petitioners had
"standing" to bring the suppression motion. Id. at 131-32. Petitioners urged the
Court to relax or broaden the rule of standing so that any criminal defendant at
whom a search was "directed" would have standing to challenge the legality of the
search. Id. at 132. The Court recognized that prior case law (including Jones v.
United States, 362 U.S. 257 (1960)) had discussed the concept of standing as
whether the individual challenging the search had been the "victim" of the search.
Petitioners in Rakas urged the Court to broaden the "victim" concept to a "target
theory" of standing for Fourth Amendment purposes. Id. at 132-33. The Supreme
Court declined to do so, reiterating that the law has long been clear that Fourth
Amendment rights were personal rights which may not be vicariously asserted. Id.
at 133-34. The Court recited numerous instances over time in which courts had
rejected defendants' assertions that they were aggrieved by unconstitutional
searches of third parties' premises or objects. Id. at 134 (collecting cases). "A
person who has been aggrieved by an illegal search and seizure only through the
introduction of damaging evidence secured by a search of a third person's premises
or property has not had any of his Fourth Amendment rights infringed." Id. "[I]t is
proper to permit only defendants whose Fourth Amendment rights have been
Case 1:14-cr-00068-KBF Document 89 Filed 10/10/14 Page 15 of 38
violated to benefit from the rule's protections." Id. The Court stated, "[c]onferring
standing to raise vicarious Fourth Amendment claims would necessarily mean a
more widespread invocation of the exclusionary rule during criminal trials." Id. at
137. The Court further reasoned that "[e]ach time the exclusionary rule is applied
it exacts a substantial social cost for the vindication of Fourth Amendment rights,"
in that "[r]elevant and reliable evidence is kept from the trier of fact and the search
for truth at trial is deflected." Id.
The Court also concluded that whether a defendant has the right to challenge
a search and seizure is best analyzed under "substantive Fourth Amendment
doctrine," and not standing, though the inquiry ought to be the same under either.
Id. at 139.
Rakas and the case law on which it is based and which has followed it thus
require this Court to ask whether a defendant who is challenging a search or
seizure has established a sufficient personal privacy interest in the premises or
property at issue. A defendant may make such a showing by asserting that he
owned or leased the premises (for example, the leasing of a server would count) or
had dominion or control over them. Watson, 404 F.3d at 166; United States v.
Villegas, 899 F.2d 1324, 1333 (2d Cir. 1990). Indeed, to a limited extent, yet to be
defined by the courts, an authorized user of a premises might have a sufficient
expectation of privacy. See Rakas, 439 U.S. at 142-43 ("[A] person can have a
legally sufficient interest in a place other than his own home so that the Fourth
Amendment protects him from unreasonable governmental intrusion into that
Case 1:14-cr-00068-KBF Document 89 Filed 10/10/14 Page 16 of 38
place."). Factual claims made in an affirmation by defendant's counsel may be an
insufficient basis upon which to challenge a search if they are made without
personal knowledge or are otherwise insufficiently probative. See Watson, 404 F.3d
There are limited situations-"extreme case[s]," United States v. Rahman,
189 F.3d 88, 131 (2d Cir. 1999) (per curiam)-in which a government practice might
be "so outrageous that due process principles would absolutely bar the
[G]overnment from invoking judicial processes to obtain a conviction …. " United
States v. Russell, 411 U.S. 423, 431-32 (1973); see also United States v. Christie,
624 F.3d 558 (3d Cir. 2010) ("The pertinent question is whether the government's
conduct was so outrageous or shocking that it amounted to a due process
violation."); Czernicki v. United States, 270 F. Supp. 2d 391, 394-95 (S.D.N.Y. 2003).
However, only conduct that "shocks the conscience" amounts to a due process
violation in this context. Rahman, 189 F.3d at 131 (quoting Rochin v. California,
342 U.S. 165, 172 (1952)).
Defendant cites U.S. v. Gelbard, 408 U.S. 41 (1972), and United States v.
Ghailani, 7 43 F. Supp. 2d 261 (S.D.N.Y. 2010), for the proposition that "a defendant
is entitled to know whether a Government's investigation was predicated on illegal
government conduct, and [obtain] relief therefrom." (Def.'s Reply Br. at 7 .) That is
only so to the extent that the issues concern a defendant's personal Fourth
Amendment rights, or if "extreme conduct" is involved. Unlawful conduct alone is
not enough. See, e.g., United States v. Payner, 447 U.S. 727, 729-31 (1980). In
Case 1:14-cr-00068-KBF Document 89 Filed 10/10/14 Page 17 of 38
Ghailani, the issue concerned whether the court would allow testimony from a
cooperating witness who had been tortured. 743 F. Supp. 2d at 267. The court
ruled that it would not, id. at 287-88, but importantly, Ghailani was "not a Fourth
Amendment search and seizure case," id. at 285.
A defendant seeking both to establish an interest in items seized, and to put
the Government to its proof of establishing a connection, is protected to the extent
that any declaration or affidavit he submits may not be offered against him at trial.
Simmons v. United States, 390 U.S. 377, 393-94 (1968) ("[W]hen a defendant
testifies in support of a motion to suppress evidence on Fourth Amendment
grounds, his testimony may not thereafter be admitted against him at trial on the
issue of guilt unless he makes no objection."). This does not insulate the defendant
from all risk, however. His statement may nonetheless be used to impeach him
should he take the witness stand in his own defense and, at that time, open the door
to the statement. United States v. Jaswal, 47 F.3d 539, 543 (2d Cir. 1995); United
States v. Beltran-Gutierrez, 19 F.3d 1287, 1291 (9th Cir. 1994). (Of course, perjury
in a declaration or on the stand is never permitted; so there are reasons to expect
consistency.) It is certainly true, therefore, that the requirement of a statement of a
personal privacy interest in an item seized requires a defendant to make choices. 6
The order of proof at trial is known in advance: the Government bears the burden of proof, which
means the Government goes first. If, after the Government rests, it has failed to present sufficient
evidence, the defendant can move pursuant to Rule 29 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure for
a judgment of acquittal. Ulbricht would not take the witness stand (if at all) until those prior steps
had occurred, and so the impeachment, if any, of Ulbricht with a statement setting forth a privacy
interest in the Icelandic server would not occur until that point. (The Court recognizes that trial
strategy is often cemented during open statements.)
Case 1:14-cr-00068-KBF Document 89 Filed 10/10/14 Page 18 of 38
Simply asserting a personal privacy interest in a premises or an object does
not-even when a warrantless search has occurred-require a finding of a Fourth
Amendment violation. A court asks a second question: whether society is willing to
recognize that this expectation is, in turn, reasonable. California v. Ciraolo, 476
U.S. 207, 211 (1986); Katz, 389 U.S. at 360. For instance, that an individual has
taken measures to restrict third-party viewing of his activities in a space that he
owns or leases does not necessarily mean that that privacy interest is one society is
prepared to recognize as reasonable. See Ciraolo, 476 U.S. at 209-10, 215 (finding
no Fourth Amendment violation when aerial photographs had been taken above a
property whose owner had taken fairly extensive measures to shield from view); see
also Oliver v. United States, 466 U.S. 170, 182-84 (1984) (placement of "No
Trespassing" signs on secluded property does not create legitimate privacy interest
in marijuana fields).
Assuming a cognizable privacy interest, the court can then turn to whether
the search was lawful.7
Searches not incident to arrest or exigent circumstances are generally based
on a warrant. Kentucky v. King, 131 S. Ct. 1849, 1856 (2011). The Warrant Clause
of the Fourth Amendment provides that "no Warrants shall issue, but upon
7 In the absence of a cognizable privacy interest, the Court has no basis to proceed with a
suppression motion, and therefore no basis on which to hold an evidentiary hearing. Evidentiary
hearings are only necessary when a defendant makes a sufficient offer of proof with respect to his
allegation that a false statement was made knowingly and intentionally, or with reckless disregard
for the truth, by an affiant in a warrant affidavit, and if, when material that is the subject of the
alleged falsity or reckless disregard is set to one side, there remains sufficient content in the warrant
affidavit to support a finding of probable cause, no evidentiary hearing is required. Franks v.
Delaware, 438 U.S. 154, 171 (1978).
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probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the
place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." U.S. Const. amend.
IV. An application for a warrant must state under penalty of perjury facts
supporting probable cause. See U.S. Const. amend. IV (warrant may not issue
unless supported by probable cause, supported by "oath or affirmation"). A
magistrate judge then reviews the warrant, determines whether the showing of
probable cause and particularity is sufficient, and if so, signs it. See United States
v. George, 975 F.2d 72, 76 (2d Cir. 1992) ("The particularity requirement prevents
this sort of privacy invasion and reduces the breadth of the search to that which a
detached and neutral magistrate has determined is supported by probable cause.").
A magistrate judge's review is based on the totality of the circumstances. Illinois v.
Gates, 462 U.S. 213, 238-39 (1983). In later reviewing such determination on a
motion to suppress, the reviewing court is to give the magistrate judge's review a
high degree of deference. See id. at 236 ("A magistrate's 'determination of probable
cause should be paid great deference by reviewing courts."' (quoting Spinelli v.
United States, 393 U.S. 410, 419 (1969), abrogated on other grounds by Gates, 462
In addition to its probable cause requirement, the Warrant Clause contains
a prohibition against "general warrants." Andresen v. Maryland, 427 U.S. 463, 480
(1976). "'The problem (posed by a general warrant) is not that of intrusion Per se,
but of a general, exploratory rummaging in a person's belongings … (the Fourth
Amendment addresses the problem) by requiring a 'particular description' of the
Case 1:14-cr-00068-KBF Document 89 Filed 10/10/14 Page 20 of 38
things to be seized."' Id. at 480 (quoting Coolidge v. New Hampshire, 403 U.S. 443,
467 (1971)). General warrants are therefore prohibited; the particularity
requirement is to ensure that nothing is left to the discretion of the officer when a
warrant is being executed-if the item is described as among those to be seized, it
may be seized. See Andresen, at 480; see also Stanford v. Texas, 379 U.S. 476, 485
The Riley, Jones, and Kyllo Cases
Defendant refers to the decisions in Riley v. California, 134 S. Ct. 2473
(2014), United States v. Jones, 132 S. Ct. 945 (2012), and Kyllo v. United States,
533 U.S. 27 (2001), as supportive of his motions to suppress and as responding to
the "essential privacy imperatives of the digital age." (Def.'s Reply Br. at 1, 13, 19,
21-28; see also Def.'s Br. at 3, 13-15, 17-19, 22-28, 42, 45-49, 59.) These cases do not
help defendant on this motion. They are consistent, not inconsistent, with the
above longstanding Fourth Amendment principles.
Riley concerned the search of data on a seized cell phone. The lawfulness of
the seizure of the object itself-the cell phone-was not contested. The subsequent
search of the data on the cell phone was. In Riley, the defendant was stopped for a
traffic violation which resulted in his arrest on weapons charges. 134 S. Ct. at
2480. A cell phone was seized as a result of a lawful search of Riley's person
incident to his arrest. Id. The arresting officer reviewed the contents of the cell
phone without a warrant, and another officer conducted a subsequent and further
review of those contents. Id. at 2480-81. The Supreme Court articulated the issue
before it as how the requirement of "the reasonableness of a warrantless search
Case 1:14-cr-00068-KBF Document 89 Filed 10/10/14 Page 21 of 38
incident to a lawful arrest" applies to "modern cell phones." Id. at 2482, 2484. The
Court acknowledged that the rationale of prior cases dealing with searches incident
to arrest involving physical objects (such as those typically found on an arrestee's
person) did not have as much force in the digital context. A "search of the
information on a cell phone bears little resemblance to the type of brief, physical
search considered in [United States v. Robinson, 414 U.S. 218 (1973)]." Id. at 2485.
Because the data on a cell phone are generally far more extensive than the contents
of physical objects and do not present the same type of safety issues, the Court
determined that warrants are generally required to search the contents of cell
phones. Id. at 2485-86. The Court based its decision both on the potential breadth
of the information a cell phone might contain, as well as on the fact that digital data
generally cannot be used as a weapon or to cause immediate physical danger. Id.
Nothing in the Court's opinion in Riley suggests any departure from any of the
principles regarding the need to establish a personal privacy interest, as discussed
above, and as is obvious, the opinion says nothing concerning searches by foreign
law enforcement officers outside the United States.
Jones concerned the warrantless attachment of a Global-Positioning-System
("GPS") tracking device to a Jeep vehicle and the subsequent monitoring of the
movements of that vehicle. 132 S. Ct. at 948. The Supreme Court examined the
question of whether the physical placement of the GPS device constituted a search
within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment and found that it did. There, the
Supreme Court returned to age-old concepts of physical trespass and the Fourth
Case 1:14-cr-00068-KBF Document 89 Filed 10/10/14 Page 22 of 38
Amendment. See id. at 949-54. In this context, the physical attachment of the
device was found to unreasonably intrude on the defendant's reasonable expectation
of privacy and, "[b]y attaching to the device to the Jeep, officers encroached on a
protected area." Id. at 952. The Court acknowledged that more nuanced casessuch as situations involving the transmission of electronic signals without
trespass-were different from the case then at hand and would be subject to
analysis under the factors set forth in Katz. Id. at 953. Jones neither alters nor
extends Fourth Amendment law in light of the digital era. Indeed, the majority
opinion looks more to the past than it does to the future.
In Kyllo, the Supreme Court did find that relatively new technologythermal imaging used on the exterior of a private residence, and which provided
information as to what was occurring in that private residence-constituted a
search for purposes of the Fourth Amendment. Kyllo, 533 U.S. at 40. The thermal
imaging was performed from the exterior of the house and occurred over a span of
just a few minutes. Id. at 29-30. Based upon the information obtained, the
investigating agent drew the conclusion that the residence functioned in part as a
grow-house for marijuana. Id. at 30. There, too, the Court applied longstanding
principles of law to find that the defendant had a reasonable expectation of privacy
in his residence-the sanctity of which has long been the concern of Fourth
Amendment jurisprudence. Id. at 34-40. The Court held that "[w]here, as here, the
Government uses a device that is not in general public use, to explore details of the
home that would previously have been unknowable without physical intrusion, the
Case 1:14-cr-00068-KBF Document 89 Filed 10/10/14 Page 23 of 38
surveillance is a 'search' and is presumptively unreasonable without a warrant." Id.
Here, the Government obtained nine warrants and five pen-trap orders.
Ulbricht argues that all of the warrants and orders suffer from one overarching
infirmity: they are based on the cursory recitation of an "investigation" that was
only possible as the result of the search that led to the authorities to Iceland.
Ulbricht argues that how that search was conducted is unknown, and that if it was
conducted in an unlawful manner, then all of the warrants are constitutionally
Ulbricht's motion is largely, therefore, directed at an investigation and search
of objects (servers) and premises in which he has carefully avoided establishing a
personal privacy interest. As the above principles make clear, just because the
investigation eventually led to his arrest on criminal charges does not ipso facto
give him a privacy interest in any Silk Road servers. Katz, 389 U.S. at 351 ("[T]he
Fourth Amendment protects people, not places.").
As the Court has set forth above, Ulbricht was provided ample opportunity
to establish such an interest-including an additional and specific request by this
s Ulbricht also argues that the magistrate judges who received the warrant applications failed
appropriately to inquire into how the preliminary investigation was conducted. (Def.'s Br. at 36-37.)
For all of the reasons discussed throughout this opinion, he has not established a personal privacy
interest that would allow him to pursue this argument. Nevertheless, even if this Court were to
perform a substantive review of the merits it would find that there is no deficiency. This Court is to
give a receiving magistrate's determination of probable cause a high degree of deference. See Gates,
462 U.S. at 236. It is apparent from the face of the affidavit in support of Warrant No. 1-which
contains a handwritten addition by the affiant and the initials of the reviewing magistrate-that the
application was carefully reviewed and probable cause established.
Case 1:14-cr-00068-KBF Document 89 Filed 10/10/14 Page 24 of 38
Court on October 7, 2014. (ECF Nos. 76-77.) He elected to "restO on his papers."
(ECF No. 83.) This is either because he in fact has no personal privacy interest in
the Icelandic server, or because he has made a tactical decision not to reveal that he
The requirement to establish a personal privacy interest might appear to
place Ulbricht in a catch-22: if the Government must prove any connection between
himself and Silk Road, requiring him to concede such a connection to establish his
standing the searches and seizures at issue could be perceived as unfair. But as
Ulbricht surely knows, this is not the first court, nor is he the first defendant, to
raise such an issue. See, e.g., Payner, 447 U.S. 727. In Payner, the Government
obtained evidence against a defendant based on a "flagrantly illegal search of a
[third party's] briefcase." Id. at 729. The Supreme Court referenced having decided
Rakas the prior term, reaffirming the "established rule that a court may not exclude
evidence under the Fourth Amendment unless it finds that an unlawful seizure
violated the defendant's own constitutional rights." Id. at 731 (collecting cases).
"And the defendant's Fourth Amendment rights are violated only when the
challenged conduct invaded his legitimate expectation of privacy rather than that of
a third party." Id. (emphasis in original) (citing, inter alia, Rakas, 439 U.S. at 143.)
While the district court and the circuit court in Payner recognized this rule,
they directly stated that a federal court should use its supervisory power to
suppress evidence tainted by gross illegalities that did not infringe the defendant's
constitutional rights. Id. at 733. The Supreme Court disagreed-and found that
Case 1:14-cr-00068-KBF Document 89 Filed 10/10/14 Page 25 of 38
the extension of the supervisory power would "enable federal courts to exercise a
standardless discretion in their application of the exclusionary rule to enforce the
Fourth Amendment." Id. at 733. The Supreme Court reiterated that it did not
condone lawless behavior-but nor did lawless behavior command "the exclusion of
evidence in every case of illegality." Id. at 734. "Our cases have consistently
recognized that unbending application of the exclusionary sanction to enforce ideals
of government rectitude would impede unacceptably the truth-finding functions of
the judge and jury." Id. The Court concluded that "the supervisory power does not
authorize a federal court to suppress otherwise admissible evidence on the ground
that it was seized unlawfully from a third party not before the court." Id. at 735.
Ulbricht and other defendants seeking to both establish an interest in items
seized, and put the Government to its proof of establishing a connection, are
protected to the extent that any declaration or affidavit may not be offered against
the defendant at trial. See Simmons, 390 U.S. at 393-94 (a defendant's sworn
statements offered in support of a motion to suppress may not thereafter be
admitted against him at trial on the issue of guilt unless defendant does not object).
This does not insulate the defendant from all risk, however. His statement may
nonetheless be used to impeach the defendant should he take the witness stand in
his own defense and, at that time, open the door to the statement on direct. United
States v. Jaswal, 4 7 F.3d 539, 543 (2d Cir. 1995); United States v. BeltranGutierrez, 19 F.3d 1287, 1291 (9th Cir. 1994). It is certainly true, therefore, that
the requirement of a statement of a personal privacy interest in an item seized
Case 1:14-cr-00068-KBF Document 89 Filed 10/10/14 Page 26 of 38
requires a defendant to make hard choices. One choice is to establish an interest if
such exists to enable a court to take up important issues. That could not or was not
Here, the Court does not know whether Ulbricht made a tactical choice
because he is-as they say-between a rock and a hard place, or because he truly
has no personal privacy interest in the servers at issue.
It is clear, however, that this Court may not proceed with a Fourth
Amendment analysis in the absence of the requisite interest. If a third party leased
a server on which the Government unlawfully intruded in the investigation that led
to the Icelandic server, under Katz, Rakas, Payner, and a host of other case law,
that is no basis for an assertion by Ulbricht that his Fourth Amendment rights were
violated. Thus, whatever methods used-lawful or unlawful-are beyond this
Court's purview. Payner, 447 U.S. at 735. Ulbricht therefore has no basis to
challenge as violations of his Fourth Amendment rights: (1) the investigation that
preceded and led to the Icelandic server, (2) the imaging and search of the Icelandic
server, and (3) Warrant Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 7. 9
Ulbricht has not proffered a statement that he had a personal expectation of
privacy in the laptop (Warrant No. 6), Facebook (Warrant No. 8) or Gmail accounts
(Warrant No. 9). While his lawyer stated that his privacy interest in the accounts
and his laptop is "manifest" (ECF No. 83 at 2 n.2), the law has long held that
Ulbricht has also argued that Warrant Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 7 are unlawful "general warrants."
(See Def.'s Reply Br. at 3.) For the same reasons that he lacks a sufficient Fourth Amendment
interest to challenge the investigatory technique that underlies the probable cause recited in the
warrants, so too he lacks a sufficient interest as to this argument.
Case 1:14-cr-00068-KBF Document 89 Filed 10/10/14 Page 27 of 38
statements submitted by attorneys that are merely conclusory or that do not allege
personal knowledge on the part of the attorney are insufficient to create an issue of
fact. See United States v. Motley, 130 Fed. App'x 508, 510 (2d Cir. 2005) (summary
order) (citing Lipton v. Nature Co., 71 F.3d 464, 469 (2d Cir. 1995); United States v.
Gillette, 383 F.2d 843, 848-49 (2d Cir. 1967). While the Court may assume based on
his attorney's statement and the Government's stated intention not to contest that
position that these accounts and the laptop belong to Ulbricht, that does not
necessarily mean that he has a reasonable expectation of privacy as to their
respective contents. There are, of course, many ways in which users may set up the
privacy settings or password protection for their Facebook and Gmail accounts, as
well as access to their laptops-and these settings and protections are relevant to a
Katz analysis. See United States v. Meregildo, 883 F. Supp. 2d 523, 525 (S.D.N.Y.
2012) ("When a social media user disseminates his postings and information to the
public, they are not protected by the Fourth Amendment. However, postings using
more secure privacy settings reflect the user's intent to preserve information as
private and may be constitutionally protected." (citations omitted)). It is also
possible for more than one individual to have access to a single shared Facebook or
Gmail account. It also seems likely that many of Ulbricht's emails were to
individuals other than himself, which could defeat an expectation of privacy in
them. See United States v. Lifshitz, 369 F.3d 173, 190 (2d Cir. 2004) (explaining
that emailers generally lose a legitimate expectation of privacy in an email that has
already reached its recipient (citing Guest v. Leis, 255 F.3d 325, 333 (6th Cir.
Case 1:14-cr-00068-KBF Document 89 Filed 10/10/14 Page 28 of 38
2001))). 10 The Court has no idea whether Ulbricht had a reasonable subjective
expectation that all aspects of his Face book and Gmail accounts would be private, or
none. The Court has no idea whether his laptop was password protected or not.
And that makes a difference. The Court cannot just assume a subjective
expectation of privacy.11
In any event, the warrants relating to these three items were lawful. As the
Court has set forth above, Ulbricht cannot challenge the initial investigation that
led to the Icelandic server. Information obtained from the search of that server led
law enforcement to other servers within the United States (as to which Ulbricht
similarly has no demonstrated privacy interest), and the information gathered as a
result of those searches undoubtedly found its way into the probable cause analysis
for Warrant Nos. 6, 8 and 9. That probable cause supported Warrants 6, 8 and 9
was well and solidly established-even without the deference this Court must give
to the reviewing magistrate judge. See Gates, 462 U.S. at 236; United States v.
Martin, 426 F.3d 68, 73 (2d Cir. 2005) (courts must afford a presumption of validity
to the affidavits supporting a search warrant); United States v. Carpenter, 341 F.3d
10 The Court does not here decide that Ulbricht could never have an expectation of privacy in an
email he sent to a third party.
It is particularly inappropriate to do so in light of published user terms for both Gmail accounts
and Facebook which indicate that under certain circumstances the accounts may be turned over,
http://www.google.com/policies/privacy/ (last modified Mar. 31, 2014) ("Your domain administrator
may be able to … receive your account information in order to satisfy applicable law, regulation,
legal process or enforceable government request …. We will share personal information with
companies, organizations or individuals outside of Google if we have a good-faith belief that … the
information is reasonably necessary to: meet any applicable law, regulation, legal process, or
enforceable governmental request."); Information for Law Enforcement Authorities, Face book,
https://www.facebook.com/safety/groups/law/guidelines/ (last visited October 9, 2014) (explaining
that under certain circumstances Facebook may provide a user's information to law enforcement
authorities without notice to the user).
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666, 670 (8th Cir. 2003) ("[S]uppression remains an appropriate remedy where 'the
issuing magistrate wholly abandoned his judicial role."' (quoting United States v.
Leon, 468 U.S. 897, 923 (1984))). Thus, the warrants do not suffer from any
probable cause deficiency.
Nor are these general warrants. A general warrant is one that lacks
particularity as to the item to be seized or as to what should be searched. George,
975 F.2d at 75. Here, they were specific as to both. The warrants identified the
laptop and the accounts by name. There was no lack of specificity as to the items to
be seized. Thus, the entirety of the laptop and data on the hard drive of that laptop
was seized, along with the entirety of the accounts.
The warrants were also specific, however, as to what type of evidence should
be searched for. Each of the warrants listed specific categories of items, including
evidence of aliases, evidence concerning attempts to obtain fake identification,
writings which can be used as stylistic comparisons for other "anonymous" writings,
evidence concerning Ulbricht's travel patterns or movement, communications with
co-conspirators regarding specified offenses, evidence concerning Bitcoin in
connection with the specified offenses, and other evidence relating to the specified
offenses. (See Dratel Deel. exs. 11, 13, 14.)
It is certainly true that in order to search for the specified items, the
Warrants sought to seize the entirety of the laptop, the Face book account, and the
Gmail account. But this does not transform the warrants into general warrants.
Indeed, it is important not to confuse the separate concepts of the seizure of an
Case 1:14-cr-00068-KBF Document 89 Filed 10/10/14 Page 30 of 38
item-which were quite specifically identified but which were seized in their
entirety-with the search itself. The search is plainly related to the specific
evidence sought. It has long been perfectly appropriate to search the entirety of a
premises or object as to which a warrant has issued based on probable cause, for
specific evidence as enumerated in the warrant, which is then to be seized. For
instance, warrants have long allowed searching a house high and low for
narcotics-indeed, it is rare that drug dealers point out the hidden trap in the
basemen-or reviewing an entire file cabinet to find files that serve as evidence of
money laundering activity, which might be intermingled with files documenting
lawful and irrelevant activity. This case simply involves the digital equivalent of
seizing the entirety of a car to search for weapons located within it, where the
probable cause for the search is based on a possible weapons offense.
In In the Matter of a Warrant for All Content and Other Information
Associated with the Email Account at xxxxx@Gmail.com Maintained at the
Premises Controlled by Google, Inc., No. 14 Mag. 309, 2014 WL 3583529 (S.D.N.Y.
Aug. 7, 2014) ("Gmail"), Magistrate Judge Gorenstein comprehensively reviewed the
current state of the law in this area. In that case, the Government sought a
warrant in connection with an investigation to allow it to search the entirety of a
Gmail account for specified evidence of a crime, as to which sufficient probable
cause had been demonstrated. Id. at *1. The warrant did not contain a particular
search protocol and did not limit the amount of time the Government could take to
review the information Google would provide in response to the warrant. Id. The
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warrant also did not provide for later destruction of the material. Id. The court
reviewed Fourth Amendment principles with a particular focus on the requirement
that courts assess the "reasonableness" of a search. Id. at *2. The court noted that
courts in Washington, D.C. and Kansas had denied applications seeking warrants
for entire email accounts, at least without protocols in place. Id. at *3. The court
found that under long established precedent, when officers executing warrants
went, for instance, to a home or office, and were authorized to seize particular types
of documents, they generally were required to look into the places where any and all
documents were stored; there was no practice and certainly no requirement that
people universally applied to the organization of their documents to assist in quick
and direct location of responsive documents should they ever be the subject of a
warrant. That was not real life. Some latitude for searches had to be allowed; this
was particularly true with regard to electronic evidence would could be even more
voluminous and undifferentiated than paper documents. See id. at *5.
Judge Gorenstein applied these principles to the warrant before him and
determined that because it specified the particular crimes as to which evidence was
sought-and as to which probable cause had been established-it was not
overbroad. Id. at *7. He noted that the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure had
been amended in 2009 to provide for a procedure in which a warrant could
authorize the seizure of electronic storage media or the seizure or copying of
electronically stored information-and that unless the warrant otherwise requires
it, a later review of the media or information is allowed. Id. at *6 (citing Fed. R.
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Crim. P. 41(e)(2)(B)). The decision also noted the Second Circuit's ruling in United
States v. Ganias, 755 F.3d 125 (2d Cir. 2014), in which the Second Circuit held that
while wholesale removal of all tangible papers from a premises was not generally
acceptable, electronic media posed a different set of issues. Gmail, 2014 WL
3583529, at *6. In Ganias, the Court stated that "[i]n light of the significant
burdens on-site review would place on both the individual and the Government, the
creation of mirror images for offsite review is constitutionally permissible …. " 755
F.3d at 135.
This Court agrees entirely with Judge Gorenstein's rationale. Warrants 6, 8
and 9 are substantially similar to the warrant before Judge Gorenstein, and
similarly have the necessary particularity.12
Defendant argues that the Pen-Trap Orders were deficient for two reasons:
(1) the information obtained through the Pen-Trap Orders should have been the
12 Even if this Court were to find that the magistrate judges who issued the warrants erred by
approving the clauses to which Ulbricht objects as overly broad, the application of the exclusionary
rule here would still be inappropriate, as the law enforcement agents who executed the searches and
seizures at issue were entitled to rely in good faith upon the magistrate judges' probable cause
determinations, and the warrant applications here were not so "lacking in indicia of probable cause"
nor so "facially deficient" that reliance upon the warrant was "entirely unreasonable." Id. at 921-23
The Court further notes that while it is certainly true that there circumstances under which a
warrant that authorizes a seizure of "any communications or writings" in the email account of a
defendant would be overbroad, it is also true that a magistrate judge's review of a warrant
application must be based on the totality of the circumstances. Gates, 462 U.S. at 238-39. Here,
these circumstances included many steps taken by members of the alleged conspiracy to maintain
their anonymity while creating, designing, administering, operating, and using the Silk Road
website, and they included the use of idiosyncratic linguistic patterns by the website's administrator.
Given the high degree of deference that this Court must afford the review of the magistrate judge,
see id. at 236, it is not this Court's place to second-guess their decision that the warrants were not
overly broad in the context of a case where anonymity and the usage of idiosyncratic linguistic
patterns are key issues.
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subject of a warrant application, and (2) the orders failed to include appropriate
minimization procedures. Both arguments are meritless.
The law is clear-and there is truly no room for debate-that the type of
information sought in Pen-Trap orders 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 was entirely appropriate for
that type of order.rn See 18 U.S.C. §§ 3121 et seq. In Smith v. Maryland, 442 U.S.
735 (1979), the Supreme Court found that the use of a pen-register did not
constitute a search for Fourth Amendment purposes, id. at 7 45-46. To the extent
Ulbricht wants to make novel Fourth Amendment arguments with regard to the
Pen-Trap Orders,1 4 he has not established the requisite privacy interest (as
discussed at length above) to do so. The Court will therefore not consider those
Ulbricht's minimization argument is similarly off-base. Minimization refers
to protocols and is used in the wiretap context to prevent investigators from
listening to conversations irrelevant to their investigation. See 28 U.S.C. § 2518
(wiretaps must be conducted "in such a way as to minimize the interception of
communications not otherwise subject to interception"). Minimization is directed at
content. See United States v. Rizzo, 491 F.2d 215, 216 n.3 (2d Cir. 1974) (federal
13 The information related to the IP addresses of individual packets of data sent to and from a
particular IP address. The content of the communications was not requested. Pen-trap devices
have frequently been used to obtain precisely that which was sought here. Before the Internet
became widely used, pen-trap devices were used to obtain information regarding the telephone
numbers associated with incoming and outgoing telephone calls. Smith v. Maryland, 442 U.S. 735
14 Defendant argues that the scope of information that can be gleaned from Internet routing
information "allows for a profile of an individual's activity far more concrete and comprehensive"
that what the telephone numbers associated with a telephone call would reveal. (Def.'s Reply Br. at
25.) He urges that as a result, Smith v. Maryland-which occurred in the context of landline
telephones-is inapposite. This Court cannot consider that argument in light of the lack of a
demonstrated privacy interest.
Case 1:14-cr-00068-KBF Document 89 Filed 10/10/14 Page 34 of 38
minimization laws do not apply "to mere interception of what telephone numbers
are called, as opposed to the interception of the contents of the conversations"). The
Pen-Trap Orders do not seek the content of internet communications in any directly
BILL OF PARTICULARS
Defendant moves for an order requiring the Government to provide a bill of
particulars. (Def.'s Br. at 65-79.) Defendant argues that in the absence of
additional factual detail not contained in the Indictment, he will be unable to
prepare his defense and will have an insufficient basis to make double jeopardy
challenges to potential future charges. (Id. at 65.) Defendant argues that the
volume of discovery weighs in favor of a bill of particulars. (Id. at 65-66.)
Rule 7(£) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure provides that a court
may direct the Government to file a bill of particulars. Fed. R. Crim. P. 7(£).
However, a bill of particulars is required "only where the charges of the indictment
are so general that they do not advise the defendant of the specific acts of which he
is accused." United States v. Walsh, 194 F.3d 37, 47 (2d Cir. 1999) (quoting United
States v. Torres, 901 F.2d 205, 234 (2d Cir. 1990)).
A bill of particulars is also unnecessary when the Government has produced
materials in discovery concerning the witnesses and other evidence. See id. ("[A]
bill of particulars is not necessary where the government has made sufficient
disclosures concerning its evidence and witnesses by other means.") In Torres, the
Second Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of a bill of particulars in part
because the defendants were provided with considerable evidentiary detail outside
Case 1:14-cr-00068-KBF Document 89 Filed 10/10/14 Page 35 of 38
of the indictment. 901 F.2d at 233-34; see also United States v. Panza, 750 F.2d
1141, 1148 (2d Cir. 1984). Thus, in determining whether to order a bill of
particulars, a court must examine the totality of the information available to
defendant, both through the indictment and through pre-trial discovery. United
States v. Bin Laden, 92 F. Supp. 2d 225, 233 (S.D.N.Y. 2000). The purpose of the
bill of particulars is to avoid prejudicial surprise at trial and give defendant
sufficient information to meet the charges against him. Id. (citing Torres, 901 F.2d
In Bin Laden, the court granted the defendants' motion for a bill of
particulars. Id. at 227. There, however, the indictment charged 15 named
defendants with 267 discrete criminal offenses, it charged certain defendants with
229 counts of murder, it covered a period of nearly ten years, and it alleged 144
overt acts in various countries. Id. at 227-28. The court noted that the
"geographical scope of the conspiracies charged in the indictment is unusually vast."
There is no provision in the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure for the type
of broad, sweeping discovery Ulbricht seeks here. Neither the nature of this
indictment or the produced discovery calls for a departure from these general rules.
That this case has a high profile does not mean that it requires special treatment.
Moreover, there can be no doubt that the Indictment here is specific enough to
advise Ulbricht of the acts of which he is accused, namely creating, designing,
administering and operating the Silk Road website, which allegedly served as an
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online one-stop-shop for narcotics, fake identification documents, and materials
used to hack computers, and which was specifically designed to rely on Bitcoin, a
method of payment designed to conceal the identities and locations of users
transmitting and receiving funds. This case is unlike Bin Laden, which concerned
hundreds of offenses associated with over one hundred alleged actions committed in
far corners of the globe-it concerns a single defendant who is alleged to have run a
single and clearly identified website. Further, the Court has gone to considerable
lengths to ensure that Ulbricht has access to evidentiary detail outside of the
Indictment, including ensuring that a laptop preloaded with certain discovery
materials was provided to Ulbricht for use at the Metropolitan Detention Center
("MDC") and particular accommodations regarding the length of time he can
routinely access the information. (ECF No. 40.) A bill of particulars is wholly
unnecessary to avoid prejudicially surprising Ulbricht at trial.
Rule 7(d) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure provides that, upon a
motion by defendant, a court may strike extraneous matter or surplusage from an
indictment. Fed. R. Crim. P. 7(d). However, '"[m]otions to strike surplusage from
an indictment will be granted only where the challenged allegations are not
relevant to the crime charged and are inflammatory or prejudicial."' United States
v. Mulder, 273 F.3d 91, 99 (2d Cir. 2001) (quoting United States v. Scarpa, 913 F.2d
993, 1013 (2d Cir. 1990)).
Courts have held that statements providing background are relevant and
need not be struck. Id. at 99-100 (in action charging extortion relating to labor
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coalitions, upholding district court's decision not to strike background on tactics and
purposes of labor coalitions).
The surplasage issues defendant has raised relating largely to the murder for
hire assertions need not be fully addressed at this time. Courts in this district
routinely await the presentation of the Government's evidence at trial before ruling
on a motion to strike surplusage. See, e.g., Scarpa, 913 F.2d at 1012; United States
v. Persico, 621 F. Supp. 842, 861 (S.D.N.Y. 1985); United States v. Ahmed, No. 10
CR. 131(PKC), 2011 WL 5041456, at *3 (S.D.N.Y. Oct. 21, 2011).
In Ahmed, the defendant's motion to strike surplusage related to background
information regarding civil and sectarian violence in Somalia and the antiAmerican animus of Al Shabaab, which was designated by the Secretary of State as
a "foreign terrorist organization." Ahmed, 2011 WL 5041456, at *1-2. The court
held that it would await presentation of the Government's evidence at trial, and
stated further that the Government would have some latitude to "demonstrat[e] the
nexus between defendant's conduct and American interests, as well as the
background of others who are members of the charged conspiracies." Id. at *3. The
Court noted that denial of the motion without prejudice to renew might also allow
the parties to reach a pre-trial stipulation, as had occurred in United States v.
Yousef, No. S3 08 Cr. 1213(JFK), 2011 WL 2899244 (S.D.N.Y. June 30, 2011).
Ahmed, 2011 WL 5041456, at *3. Here, as in Ahmed, the Court will await the
Government's presentation at trial.
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For the reasons set forth above, defendant's motion to suppress, for a bill of
particulars and to strike surplusage is DENIED.
The Clerk of Court is directed to close the motion at ECF No. 46.
New York, New York
October JD, 2014
KATHERINE B. FORREST
United States District Judge