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The prosecution's perspective is warped by incentives - we should never care about how prosecutors feel or think - they are just tools of the people. Prosecutors need convictions, promotions, and press to succeed at their jobs. At this point, it's not JSTOR who wants this case prosecuted, it's just government agents. And they are just going through the motions.

It may be up to a jury to do the right thing - they stand a better change of being unbiased, thankfully for Aaron.




"We should never care about how prosecutors think" is a nonsense statement even for someone who believes that AUSAs and DAs are invariable corrupt and self-interested.


How does that follow? Their job is to prosecute. They're not corrupt--they're doing their jobs. No one is faulting them. They're just part of a system that is meant to be punitive even in the face of doing net damage to society.

What does putting him in prison accomplish? Obviously they're prosecuting him just because he broke a law. Not because he hurt anyone, or because he stole a bunch of money, or because he is a danger to society. They're trying to put him in prison as punishment for breaking a rule. Which is fine, except that in this case, he's obviously someone capable of making meaningful contributions to society. It just doesn't make sense to lock him up like they're trying to.

And all of this doesn't mean he shouldn't be punished--its just very plain to see that prosecutors have a job to do, and being sympathetic to who they're prosecuting isn't part of their job. If they're particularly good at their job, it would be a net loss to society.


Nobody is suggesting that the outcome of every case should follow what prosecutors think. What we are instead now discussing is the ridiculous notion that nobody should even care what they think. Well, pretty Aaron Swartz cares a whole lot about what they think, despite disagreeing strongly with all of it.

The subtext of this argument is obviously, "prosecutors are self-interested, and what they claim to think has nothing to do with what they really think, which is 'I am going to pursue whichever cases present the best opportunity for career advancement'." This, too, is a dumb way to think, because however much prosecutors may or may not think that way, judges and juries do not think that way, nor do they believe prosecutors are entirely animated by career concerns.


A prosecutor's job is to seek justice, not convictions. If a prosecutor believes a conviction would be unjust despite being technically compatible with the law, it would be unethical to pursue such a conviction.


A prosecutor's job is to seek justice, not convictions.

No, a prosecutor's job is not to seek justice, their job in adversarial legal system is to prosecute a case in the guidelines of the law. Its pretty clear that the prosecutor has a case against Aaron and its not their job to decide on whether the law is "just" or "right" their job is to prosecute that case to the fullest extent of the law. The last thing we need are prosecutors choosing what laws should and should not be enforced.

Its the judge and jury's job to decide what and what is not just.


Wrong. "The United States Attorney is the representative not of an ordinary party to a controversy, but of a sovereignty whose obligation to govern impartially is as compelling as its obligation to govern at all; and whose interest, therefore, in a criminal prosecution is not that it shall win a case, but that justice shall be done." -- Berger v. United States, 295 U.S. 78, 88 (1935)

http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=5318644154387676...


That's not true. The prosecution definitely does have discretion in which cases to bring and they are expected to use it in the service of justice.

Prosecutorial discretion doesn't enter into this case; this is a prosecution-driven case. They are bringing this case very deliberately.


Even if you don't care what prosecutors think generally, do you think they characterized his intent pretty accurately? To destroy the commercial value of the information by making it freely available to everyone?

Would you characterize his intent differently?


I doubt, that releasing a torrent would have destroyed the commercial value of the service. Torrent is a rather poor way of distributing scientific articles. I doubt researchers would use it much, or that there would be a huge loss of revenue.




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