Here's my point. When I read about the Ross Ulbricbht court, what comes across to me is that the judge is saying "blah blah yadda yadda legal stuff and now here is MY OPINION" which will vary from judge to judge. But surely justice must be consistent? You shouldn't have one judge convicting a person for making an urgent phone call, but a different judge effectively exonerating a policeman for not driving with the care required by his job. And you shouldn't have a judge handing down an entire life sentence when another judge would most likely have given a sentence of 10-20 years.
I am undoing moderation to post this, because I have seen similar comments everywhere covering the story, all moderated up, and it simply isn't true.
Yes sentencing should be consistent which is why we have sentencing guidelines, and this judge followed them. He was convicted of running a continuing criminal enterprise which has a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years. And it gets worse when you add up the offense levels in the guidelines for his crimes: It was demonstrated that people who took drugs purchased on Silk Road have died from that drug use, which give him a base offense level of 38. The continuing criminal enterprise offense adds 4 points, and since he played an Aggravated Role as the ring leader that adds another 4 points, bringing him to 46 points. The sentencing table for someone with no prior convictions and an offense level of 43 or more is a life sentence, period, and that is before talking about the other five charges he was convicted of! As a judge you would have to present a very strong argument as to why someone with that high of an offense level should get less than life.
The reason he got such a harsh sentence is because our drug laws are so harsh, not because the judge was harsh. Prosecutors have huge flexibility in what they charge people with, and in this case they threw the book at him.