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Judge’s declaration in COPA v. Wright

[Recommend my two-volume book for more reading]:

BIT & COIN:  Merging Digitality and Physicality

At the end of the COPA v. Wright trial on March 14, 2024, Judge Mellor made the following oral statement:

I thank all the parties for their written closing and oral arguments, and they’ve been very helpful indeed. They will require me to prepare a fairly lengthy written judgment, which will be handed down in due course. And for all those who have already been hassling my clerk as to when the judgment will be ready, the short answer is as follows: it will be ready when it’s ready and not before.

However, having considered all the evidence and submissions presented to me in this trial, I’ve reached the conclusion that the evidence is overwhelming. Therefore, for the reasons which will be explained in that written judgment in due course, I will make certain declarations which I am satisfied are useful and are necessary to do justice between the parties:

First, that Dr. Wright is not the author of the Bitcoin White Paper.

Second, Dr. Wright is not the person who adopted or operated under the pseudonym “Satoshi Nakamoto” in the period 2008 to 2011.

Third, Dr. Wright is not the person who created the Bitcoin System.

And, fourth, he is not the author of the initial versions of the Bitcoin software.

Any further relief will be dealt with in my written judgment.

Potential ambiguity in the judge’s statement

There has been some ambiguity as to whether the judge’s oral statement really meant that he had reached a negative conclusion or that he just gave a list of issues he had to decide in the written judgment.

First, any normal reading of Judge Mellor’s oral statement at the closing shows a declaration that Dr. Wright is not Satoshi. 

However, some doubt remains because it is possible that he just announced the declaratory issues he was going to decide on in the written judgment. (Possible, but unlikely. See below)

Here are some reasons for both interpretations.


The word “declaration” in the judge’s oral statement should be treated as a precise legal term in specific relation to the declaratory remedies asked by COPA. 

When the judge’s closing statement is placed in the context of the closing arguments in COPA v. Wright, the following interpretation is plausible:

The judge used the word “declaration” to refer to the “declaratory remedies” that he was asked to make. This would suggest that “I will make certain declarations…” simply means he will make the declarations in the final written judgment, not immediately following that. If this is the case, it is quite natural to read the four sentences enumerated at the end as the declaratory requests made by the plaintiff (COPA), rather than the declarations themselves.

In legalese, the identity issue is indeed about such “declaratory remedies” (differentiating from remedial judgments and injunctions).  This does lend a certain credibility to this interpretation.


Also, Lord Grabiner, Dr. Wright’s counsel, did argue in the closing that certain declarations are unnecessary while identity declarations are needed. He argued that there is a distinction between an identity declaration and a copyright ownership declaration.

Therefore, the context may suggest that the judge’s oral statement of the closing was responsive to Grabiner’s argument. This would import a more specific meaning to the judge’s words, especially the word “declaration”.


In addition, It is unusual for a judge to announce any “declaration” or any other rulings or judgments in an oral closing statement. While it is possible for a judge to indicate the likely outcome of a case at the closing of oral arguments, the formal and binding decision is typically provided in the written judgment.


The trouble is that the judge has worded his statement in such a way that the above alternative interpretation feels unusual, almost unnatural.

The text of the judge’s oral statement strongly suggests that he already made the declarations in the oral statement, and the only thing that the final judgment is still left to decide (in addition to detailed explanations of the judgment of course) is to decide on the injunctions, which were also a major focus in the final closing arguments.  

For example, the last sentence “Any further relief will be dealt with in my written judgment” suggests that he just made the declarations as part of the relief, and even the rest (injunctions) for the written judgment.

The judge’s statement that the evidence and submissions were “overwhelming” may also explain why he made the unusual oral declarations. He justified making them by citing the “overwhelming” evidence which made the case exceptional.

If the judge meant to merely repeat a list of issues to be decided rather than make a declaration, he could have and perhaps should have stated it differently with much better clarity. Just adding or changing a few words would have made it significantly clearer. But the peculiar statement being from a highly experienced judge, its apparent meaning seems deliberate.

Besides, people who were in the courtroom hearing the judge’s oral statement did not seem to have any doubts about it. They’re the ones who are in a much better position to have a more accurate reading of the judge’s statement because the statement is not merely words but also with the full force of intonation and presence. Had there been a serious ambiguity, it would have manifested, and the judge would have sensed it and made a correction. But nothing like that has happened or been suggested.


A third possibility is that the judge had already made up his mind against Dr. Wright, but didn’t want to make his decision overly explicit and binding in the oral closing statement, while at the same time wanted to indicate the likely outcome of his written judgment. How was he going to do that? By saying something that is strongly indicative of the decision he will make, but intentionally making it somewhat ambiguous. That does not bode well for Dr. Wright either, because the word “overwhelming” in that case was likely a specific word in favor of COPA rather than a neutral word that covered both sides.

Who knows?

No one except the judge himself knows this for sure now. We should all wait for the judge’s written judgment.

My understanding:

Presently, I assume that the judge has declared that Dr. Wright is not Satoshi. That’s how it appears. I say this not because I am certain of it but because it is how I feel about it, and also I’d rather err on the conservative side. I do hope I am wrong.

I think it’s a fact that there is no certainty like a formal written judgment would have. I gave reasons why uncertainty arises from that statement and the context of the closing arguments.

One can’t complain about the judge though. The nature of waiting for a written judgment is its uncertainty. I don’t think the judge’s oral statement has made it more uncertain than it would be. If anything, it probably has reduced the uncertainty.

The judge’s decision

If the written judgment confirms the judge’s declaration that Dr. Wright is not Satoshi, I will give due respect to it unless an appellate court overrules the decision.

Respecting a judicial judgment means that you submit to it to the extent that its writ for legal enforcement reaches. Respecting a court process and decision also means that one must reevaluate the evidence in light of the court process and decision by giving weight that is due to the court and judge.

However, it does not mean that you must change your honest understanding of the facts and the truth and involuntarily change your mind to agree with the judge or the court’s reasoning and conclusion. A person’s free will cannot be forcefully violated. Even in circumstances where the free speech could be restricted, the free will itself cannot be. If one is unfortunate enough to be caught in a contradiction of his own free will and the law, he must obey and suffer the consequence of contradiction, but he must not be forced to change what he honestly believes.

Often, suffering is good for both the truth and the person who chooses to believe it. The suffering is good when the belief is false because the pressure of contradiction may help one to re-examine and eliminate false beliefs under light. The suffering is also good when the belief is true because the person and the truth itself both go through a trial, tested and proven, manifesting their true value.

As an independent observer, I reach a personal conclusion using an objective Bayesian method to estimate the realistic probability based on the evidence available to me. In this sense, the COPA v. Wright trial has been helpful because it allowed evidence to be more exposed and more thoroughly contested.

See Bayesian probabilities and evidence, with applications in COPA v. Wright.

My personal views

I reevaluated the evidence in light of the trial with calm and respect. At this point, my conclusion is still that Dr. Wright is Satoshi, the inventor of the Bitcoin blockchain.

My conclusion is the result of my objectively applying the Bayesian method to estimate the probability of a hypothesis based on all available evidence. See Bayesian probabilities and evidence, with applications in COPA v. Wright.

I put everything I’ve seen together and considered them in an objective Bayesian estimate, and my conclusion is still that Dr Wright is extremely likely to be Satoshi.

It doesn’t mean that I have 100% certainty. For complex matters, we never do. It means that I act according to the practical probability as a result of objectively applying the Bayesian method.

With a very high Bayesian probability, I can’t pretend ambivalence. If the probability is between 30% and 70%, or even 20% and 80%, there can be an honest justification for ambivalence and inaction. But if the probability reaches beyond 90% or diminishes below 10%, pretending ambivalence becomes evidently dishonest.

In the case of Dr. Wright’s Satoshi identity, my objective estimate using the Bayesian method gives me a result better than 99% that Dr. Wright is Satoshi, even after this trial. This probability is at a point where, barring a clear logical falsification proof (i.e., a proof of logical impossibility or contradiction, such as a clearly better proof of an alternative Satoshi), I would simply be dishonest if I denied Dr. Wright’s Satoshi identity.

The importance of Bayesian method

The trial of COPA v. Wright shows how important it is for decision-makers today to understand the Bayesian method and use it to interpret the increasingly probabilistic world we live in.

Although the Bayesian method is not the only scientific method for estimating probability, its underlying principle is the only way to correct a common fallacy in people’s estimates of probabilistic matters.

The common fallacy is simply this: we confuse possibility with probability, lock our minds in single factors, and fail to understand the mathematical nature of a probabilistic world that requires sequential progressive iterations of probability estimates based on cumulative evidence.

This mind virus has become a pandemic due to the increasingly available superficial information that floods people’s minds.

To a spectator who has no access to the original truth, any outlandish conspiracy theory has a possibility of being true. The human mind leaves a vast room for imagination. It is not a defect in itself. Everyone has a right to speculate, and most of us are probably susceptible to the influence of our interests and likings to various degrees.

But the key is not possibility but probability.

Unless one has direct firsthand access to the original truth, he must focus on finding the objective probability.

If one’s mind pursues only imaginary possibilities but disregards objective probabilities, it either finds no anchor to attach to or, worse, attaches to a false anchor created by personal bias. At that point, the human imagination becomes a problem because the mind is taken over by a ‘mind virus’, which is a carrier of false information.

This applies to either side of a controversy, so we all need to restrain our minds and hearts with an objective estimate of the probability instead of going loose with unrestrained imagination of a possibility.

An intelligent way to estimate the probability of a hypothesis is to objectively use the Bayesian method of estimating probability, which considers all available evidence together with appropriate weights. 

For more on the Bayesian method with its applications in COPA v. Wright, see Bayesian probabilities and evidence.

The technology matters more

Even more importantly, I did not get myself into this because of my curiosity about Satoshi’s mysterious identity. I got into Bitcoin and blockchain because of my conviction of the danger humanity faces and what solutions are helpful (or unhelpful or even harmful).

Regardless of the final outcome of the Satoshi identity case, it is more critical than ever to focus on developing the right technology to solve humanity’s most existential challenge. See TimeChain that preserves humanity in digital age.

I have always focused on technology rather than identity, and I will be even more so in the future. However, when asked who Satoshi is, I will still say Dr. Craig S. Wright. This is not a contempt for the court or the judge, nor a spite toward those who have different views, but only my honesty.

[Recommend my two-volume book for more reading]:

BIT & COIN:  Merging Digitality and Physicality