It Has Come to This: Arguing About Emoji in the Silk Road Trial


If you needed another reason not to put smiley faces in your correspondence, besides the fact that you are a grown person and you just shouldn’t, witness the Silk Road trial. Ross W. Ulbricht is charged with being the delighfully named Dread Pirate Roberts and running Silk Road, a sort of eBay for all things illegal. During the trial, the lawyers actually had to spend valuable court time arguing about emoji.

At issue was a piece of information that Mr. Ulbricht’s lawyer suggested was critically important, yet was omitted by federal prosecutors: an emoji. […]

The unusual debate, taking place out of the presence of the jury in Federal District Court in Manhattan, arose after a prosecutor finished reading the text of an Internet post. “I’m so excited and anxious for our future, I could burst,” the prosecutor had read to the jury, making no mention of the smiling symbol that followed.

Eventually, the judge, Katherine B. Forrest, instructed the jury that it should take note of any such symbols in messages.

Isn’t this what everyone dreamed of when we thought about becoming a lawyer?


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