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Aaron Swartz trial may be delayed

On Monday, attorneys for Aaron H. Swartz asked the federal district court to delay his trial from February to June, and filed responses to the government’s replies to his motions to suppress evidence. Swartz is the Internet activist accused of mass downloading millions of journal articles from JSTOR with a laptop hidden in a basement network closet in MIT’s Building 16.

Swartz’s attorney, Elliot R. Peters of Kecker and Van Nest, writes that the additional hearings will be required to decide the pretrial motions to suppress evidence, and additional time will be necessary for the defense’s experts to analyze additional materials.

The Department of Justice responded Wednesday saying that Swartz had agreed to the schedule previously, and that Swartz’s new attorneys, who he retained in October, “sought no alteration of the present schedule” at that time.

The court has scheduled a status conference for next Friday afternoon to figure out how these motions will be handled.

Peters writes that “this is not a garden-variety criminal case involving factual issues that are readily intelligible to any layperson. Instead, this is a highly technical computer-fraud case that will require the parties to present, and the court and the jury to understand and evaluate, complex issues regarding the operation of computer networks, how those networks are accessed, the operation and identification of individual computers (including their MAC addresses, IP addresses, and ‘BASH’ [sic] histories), and the operation of computer programs which cause the downloading of content from network servers.”

Peters also writes that, in order for the court to evaluate the pretrial motions, it will have to “hear testimony and receive evidence from witnesses with MIT, JSTOR, and the law enforcement agencies involved.”

Swartz’s trial is currently scheduled for Feb. 4, 2013.

John A. Hawkinson