Ortiz defends handling of Swartz case

The office of US Attorney Carmen Ortiz, widely criticized over its (mis)handling of the Aaron Swartz case, is on the defensive yet again.

Ortiz’s office took a lot of flak after internet activist Swartz committed suicide earlier this month. Critics believe prosecutorial overreach contributed to Swartz’s decision to take his own life, but Ortiz’s office still maintains that it did not hound Swartz to death. Furthermore, Ortiz’s spokeswoman Christina Dilorio-Sterling now claims the Swartz case will not affect the office’s handling of other cases.

“Absolutely not. We thought the case was reasonably handled and we would not have done things differently,” she said. “We’re going to continue doing the work of the office and of following our mission.”

Dilorio-Sterling sounds rather callous given the circumstances and Swartz’s girlfriend Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman told the Boston Herald that she is saddened Ortiz is not taking the moment to reflect on the role of proportionality and judgment in the pursuit of justice.

“Ms. Ortiz’s office pursued a legal strategy of intimidation where they threatened Aaron with decades of time in prison for an alleged crime with no victims. That’s not justice. That’s bullying,” said Stinebrickner-Kauffman.

Swartz’s father, Robert D. Swartz, also criticized the statement, saying he believes that there has been a “grave miscarriage” of justice.

Attorney Daniel Gelb said the Swartz case illustrates how much power Ortiz has. He said the case should be a wake-up call with respect to the impact a criminal prosecution can have on defendants whose behavior does not warrant the media exposure and draconian sentencing guidelines.