July 31, 2012

Aaron Swartz "JSTOR" court case drags on

[Original, if boring, reporting below]

It's been more than a year since the Aaron Swartz indictment was announced (disclosure: I know him socially, and have admired his work). The court case has fallen out of the news now. But it hasn't been dropped or plea-bargained. It's still slowly and agonizingly grinding through the legal system. I've been following it via the court filings, out of personal interest in situations where programmers get sued for electronic activism.

Basically, Judge Learned Hand was right about lawsuits, they are dreadful. On and on the filing go, a slow-motion battle that is part war of attrition, part trial by ordeal before trial by jury. It appears that Aaron Swartz is fortunate enough to be able to mount a first-class defense, so his lawyers can challenge various evidence that the prosecution wants to introduce. Here's some of the flavor of the process, from a status conference:

[snip] ... The defense intends to file Motions to Suppress and Dismiss. The parties agree that such motions will be filed raise complex matters and that the Court should set a filing date for such matters 60 days from the date of the status conference;

(6) The parties propose that expert witness disclosure in this case take place in three phases. The government will make its initial expert witness disclosure 11 weeks before trial. The defense will make theirs 8 weeks before trial. The government may then make an additional expert disclosure 5 weeks before trial, if an additional expert or experts are necessary to address matters raised in the defense disclosure. [snip]

(9) The parties believe that trial is likely and that the trial will last around 3 weeks.

This apparently is going to continue on for a long time yet.

Update: As of August 2012, the trial date was set for February 4, 2013

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in legal | on July 31, 2012 11:53 PM | (Infothought permalink)