"The specter of being incarcerated for years should never have haunted Aaron, but it did," Hofmann said. "Brilliant, talented, visionary people should be spending their time building our future, not worrying about wasting away in prison."
Over the weekend, Harvard Law School professor Lawrence Lessig penned a piece titled "Prosecutor as bully." Lessig, a friend of Swartz's, said the "outrageousness" of the story "is also the absurdity of the prosecutor's behavior." The government, Lessig said, "worked as hard as it could to characterize what Aaron did in the most extreme and absurd way." Lessig said "our government continued to push as if it had caught the 9/11 terrorists red-handed."
A lawyer for Swartz, Elliott Peters of San Francisco's Keker & Van Nest, said in an interview Monday that Swartz rejected one plea deal that would have involved pleading guilty to 13 felonies and spending six months in jail. (Martin Weinberg, a defense lawyer in Boston who earlier represented Swartz in the case, was not immediately reached for comment.)
"They saw this case as one that could be portrayed as a significant one and added to their portfolio," Peters said. "They tried to turn this case into something much more significant and worthy."
Peters questioned what he described as a lack of "proportionality and fairness" among the lawyers involved in the Swartz prosecution. Prosecutors, he said, made it "very, very clear" that Swartz, if he did decide to plead guilty, would have to serve some time behind bars.
In his discussions with the prosecutors, Peters said he made this clear: "We need to resolve this case in a way that doesn't destroy Aaron's life."
Sheri Qualters contributed to this story. Mike Scarcella writes for The National Law Journal, a Daily Report affiliate.