Search Site
226 Lenox Ave. | New York, New York 10027
Free Consultation 212-406-9466

This 26 year old killed himself rather than face the prospect of a 35 year sentence for a minor act of college campus trespass that was used by the Massachusetts prosecutor as part of a media campaign.

Aaron Swartz was considered a tech prodigy and had engaged in several acts of civil disobedience in order to make information available to the public.  Several of his actions, including tapping into the MIT computer system in order to make academic articles available for free on the internet, involved no financial gain on his part.  There were no state secrets, counter-intelligence files or documents relating to national security involved, just harmless academic materials.

As part of a media  fueled public relations campaign, the Massachusetts U.S. Attorney decided to throw the book at this kid and refused to allow a non-jail plea.  As a result, Aaron took his own life last Friday when he hung himself in his Brooklyn apartment.

Prosecutors have wide latitude in deciding when and to what extent to bring charges.  You cannot sue a prosecutor if he or she refuses to bring charges even though the charges may be warranted.  Prosecutors can manipulate the grand jury and bring charges, so long as there is probable cause, when they alone see fit. Prosecutors have immunity when they are not acting in an investigative capacity in the event they bring charges, which are subsequently dismissed, assuming no Brady or other constitutional violations.

The American Bar Association has promulgated guidelines which provide a more ethical and reasonable framework for unfettered prosecutorial discretion.

Take a look the Standards and General Principles delineated in these recommendations (they are not laws or regulations that prosecutors must follow):

“ (d) The prosecutor should:

(i) ensure that criminal investigations are not based upon premature beliefs or conclusions as to guilt or innocence but are guided by the facts;

(ii) ensure that criminal investigations are not based upon partisan or other improper political or personal considerations and do not invidiously discriminate against, nor wrongly favor, persons on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, political beliefs, age, or social or economic status;

(iii) consider whether an investigation would be in the public interest and what the potential impacts of a criminal investigation might be on subjects, targets and witnesses; and

(iv) seek in most circumstances to maintain the secrecy and confidentiality of criminal investigations.

(e) Generally, the prosecutor engaged in an investigation should not be the sole decision-maker regarding the decision to prosecute matters arising out of that investigation.

(f) The prosecutor should be aware of and comply with the ethical rules and other legal standards applicable to the prosecutor’s conduct during an investigation.

(g) The prosecutor should cooperate with other governmental authorities regarding matters that are of legitimate concern to such authorities when doing so is permitted by law and would not compromise an investigation or other criminal justice goals.

(h) The prosecutor’s office should provide organizational structure to guide its members’ investigative work.”

The unfortunate actions of the Massachusetts United States Attorney, leading to the death of Aaron Swartz, will do nothing, but fuel efforts of young people and others to make information more available on the internet.  (Internet Archive, Creative Commons, Wikipedia, Recap)


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Contact us

Please fill out the form below and one of our attorneys will contact you.

Quick Contact Form

Our Office
  • New York Office
    226 Lenox Ave.
    New York, New York 10027
    Phone: 212-406-9466
    Fax: 212-406 9410
  • "Lenox Avenue attorney Carmen Giordano is honest, experienced and determined to win. He and his staff consistently provide incredible customer service and a solid commitment to serving the Harlem community."  -Daniel “Dapper Dan” Day

  • "I initially hired Carmen S. Giordano in 2005 to represent Be & D, our high-end ladies accessories division, in litigation with one of our major suppliers. Mr. Giordano quickly and efficiently collected pertinent information and was able to obtain a judgment that I considered most satisfactory. I have continued to ask Mr. Giordano to represent us in domestic and some international matters. I know that I can rely on his legal advice, and I deeply appreciate his personal warmth and genuineness whenever I contact him."  -Larry Dumain

  • "Recommend Carmen Giordano?” You cannot “recommend ” a friend, you have to experience the warmth the caring, the true concern to help you with your problem . It’s an “experience ” to to hear the sound advice and how to proceed with a dilemma. Yes, Carmen is a true “trailblazer”, a “template ” for other attorneys, in his total concern for his client/friend and how to help. He is also very well supported by his staff."  -Peter Grinenko

  • "Carmen is an OUTSTANDING Lawyer. This guy really gets things done! I never met a lawyer who put in so much effort and hardwork into their cases . I met Carmen about a month ago where i had a real messy case and a month later my case was settled. I recommend him as a lawyer 100%. This guy is the real deal!"  -Mancita

  • "I have been very happy with the work Carmen has led on my behalf. He is responsive and completely reliable and trustworthy. I know I can always depend on him to make sound recommendations on my behalf. He knows the law from A to Z and stays current on changes in the law whether it’s estate planning, employment issues or legal matters for same-sex couples. He has as comfortable style which helps clients be at ease and he always takes the time to explain concepts and implications so we can arrive at informed decisions together."  -Jack T

  • "Carmen helped me fight a case against a crooked Psychiatrist named forester. We settled the case and therefore won. With the win and the money, I was able to rebuild my life to some degree. Lawyers don’t get much better than this guy. Thank You again Carmen!"  -Jon

  • "Mr. Giordano is honest, trustworthy, efficient, thorough & caring. He is professional & personable. He truly cares about his clients. I highly recommend him."  -Kim

  • "Carmen Giordano is the embodiment of everything you would hope to find in a lawyer; he is trustworthy, sincere and knows his stuff. He comes highly recommended from such a vast cross-section of people–from mutual friends at the National Action Network, to clothing designers and music producers. Having experience in such a variety of areas makes Giordano one of the most well rounded attorneys I know. I wholeheartedly recommend him because unlike some in his industry, he really looks out for you. And from the times I have been in his office, he truly represents everyone from the falsely accused in Harlem, with nowhere to turn, to big shots, including top musicians and an occasional judge."  -Michelle

  • "I highly endorse this lawyer. He has great integrity and very broad experience in litigation. He has had great success in achieving excellent results for his clients; provides vigorous and reliable representation to each client; and has excellent judgment in assessing the merits of a claim."  -Margaret King, Attorney

  • "Carmen Giordano came to my rescue when I needed it most. I was a passenger in a taxi that crashed, leaving me badly injured and unable to work or take care of my 3 children. The taxi company tried to downplay my injuries and my losses. But Carmen fought for me every step of the way in this complicated case. He understood my lost wages, and understood the strain on my family (he’s a father too). He made sure the judge understood it, too. By the the time he concluded his eloquent opening argument, the defendants quickly settled. I remain extremely grateful to Mr. Giordano."  -Lauren

Leave a Review