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Judge In Pirate Bay Trial Biased

CmdrTaco posted more than 5 years ago | from the aren't-we-all dept.

The Courts 415

maglo writes "The judge who handed down the harsh sentence to the four accused in the The Pirate Bay trial was biased, writes Sveriges Radio (Sweden Public Radio): sr.se (swedish). Google translation. The judge is member of two copyright lobby organizations, something he shares with several of the prosecutor attorneys (Monique Wadsted, Henrik Pontén and Peter Danowsky). The organizations in question are Svenska Föreningen för Upphovsrätt (SFU) and Svenska föreningen för industriellt rättsskydd (SFIR)."

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English Language Article. (5, Informative)

telchine (719345) | more than 5 years ago | (#27685845)

If Swedish isn't your native language, this article might prove more useful:

Pirate Bay Judge Accused of Bias [theregister.co.uk]

Re:English Language Article. (5, Insightful)

Ornedan (1093745) | more than 5 years ago | (#27685897)

Additionally, the judge sits on the board of the Swedish Association for the Protection of Industrial Property (Svenska fÃreningen fÃr industriellt rÃttsskydd), which is lobbying for tougher copyright laws.

However, NorstrÃm insisted to the radio station that his membership of the various copyright protection groups did not constitute a conflict of interestâ.

It is indeed quite obvious that being a leading member of a copyright lobby organization can not in any way be seen as a conflict of interest.

And in other news, Slashdot still fails at UTF8.

Re:English Language Article. (5, Funny)

telchine (719345) | more than 5 years ago | (#27685915)

Slashdot still fails at UTF8.

FÃIL!!!

Re:English Language Article. (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27686293)

SlÃshdÃ¥t fÃjlar jÃrnet, jÃvla rÃvfyllning ocksÃ¥!

Re:English Language Article. (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#27685981)

Creepy thing is, he might actually believe that. If you are a die-hard copyright maximalist then "strong copyright=justice" will simply seem axiomatic, so your involvement with a copyright lobbying group will just seem like professional experience.

The fact that he is so tone-deaf that he doesn't comprehend how that might create a raging appearance of impropriety is pretty shocking, though.

Re:English Language Article. (3, Insightful)

rhsanborn (773855) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686251)

In some defense, if he is a member of the organization not in a capacity of financial beneficiary of copyright, then it isn't quite so clear cut. If he firmly believes in copyright as a matter of law and principle, I don't think it's much different than a judge being a member of an organization lobbying for tougher murder penalties, etc. We wouldn't exclude him from murder trials. His judgment should come from interpreting the law. If he has failed terribly at that, then there are issues such as legislating from the bench that need to be discussed, but otherwise, this "conflict of interest" isn't nearly so glaring.

Re:English Language Article. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27686349)

Are you hearing what you saying?
He is a member of a lobbying group.
Lobbying group gets MONEY from their interests - read financial benefit.

Re:English Language Article. (4, Informative)

reachinmark (536719) | more than 5 years ago | (#27685987)

Alternatively, from The Local, an English language Swedish paper:

Pirate Bay Lawyer calls for retrial [thelocal.se]

Though it might be worth pointing out that the "call" for a retrial isn't actually official yet, just what the lawyer has said to journalists.

Re:English Language Article -Wall Street Journal (4, Interesting)

pallmall1 (882819) | more than 5 years ago | (#27685995)

Here's a link to the story [wsj.com] in the Wall Street Journal.

Damn. Just who are the pirates in this case?

Re:English Language Article -Wall Street Journal (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686177)

The ones with shallower pockets and fewer friends in high places. Obviously.

Re:English Language Article. (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686011)

He's also dispute solver in the foundation .se where Monique to is a member.

Anyway he claim this won't affect anything, just keep him in the know of the subject ..

And for you who don't know all the names:
Henrik Pontén - Lawyer at Swedish anti-piracy organisation.
Monique Wadsted - Lawyer representing the movie industry.
Peter Danowsky - Lawyer representing the music industry.

Re:English Language Article. (5, Informative)

aliquis (678370) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686081)

One of the jurymen had to leave to since he was a composer, but I guess a judge who are part of the council in an organisation working to improve the interest and knowledge of the industrial protection rights of patents, brands, designs, plant engineering, name and company rights and protection against inappropriate competition and member of the other organization which goals is to discuss copyright is just fine.

Re:English Language Article. (1)

hesaigo999ca (786966) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686125)

Can they atleast prove this and move to motion for a mistrial?

Several English Language Articles (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27686335)

The Pirate Party was quick to write a spicy retort in the form of a pressrelease: Pirate Party: "Corruption and miscarriage of justice" [piratpartiet.se]

Also, more versions in english:
Pirate Bay lawyer calls for retrial [thelocal.se]
Pirate Bay judge and pro-copyright lobbyist accused of bias [theregister.co.uk]

Can you say conflict of interest? (3, Interesting)

PeKbM0 (1372511) | more than 5 years ago | (#27685853)

Because I'm sure TPB's lawyers can.

Re:Can you say conflict of interest? (5, Insightful)

Sun.Jedi (1280674) | more than 5 years ago | (#27685913)

Clearly, they could not, or did not.

The TPB lawyers didn't do their homework, which is a sentiment that rings very loudly in a lot of commentary about this trial.

It will hopefully come up in the appeal. This may have been a strategy all along -- i.e. let the music industry lawyers put all their cards on the table during the trial, and destroy them in the appeal.

Re:Can you say conflict of interest? (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686129)

Seems like they will take it to the next juridical level asking to have the previous trial result dismissed and have a re-trial at the previous level again ...

Not that I believe it will change anyway, people want them judged, never mind they haven't committed any crime (imho) but rather just gets punished for 25 million other peoples crimes just because it's easier to catch these four than all of those.

Re:Can you say conflict of interest? (4, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686187)

They may have been unaware of this. More likely, they may have thought that they had compelling arguments and the worst case (i.e. they lost) would have meant that they could get a retrial (and therefore be paid for longer) if they lost. The judge may well not have been very biased. Someone with moderate leanings in one direction can still be persuaded in the other by well-reasoned arguments. If this were the case, they may have won anyway, but knowing that the judge had this bias gave them an additional strategy in case it was not.

Re:Can you say conflict of interest? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27686339)

I'm not a lawyer, I'm not a swedish lawyer, but I have a basic understanding of the US court system (which 95% of slashdot lacks).

In the US, you can't (succesfully) appeal because you didn't like the verdict. You need a reason the original trial was flawed, like prosecutorial misconduct, jury misconduct, or if the judge made a mistake *which you objected to at the time*.

The judge didn't find them guilty, the jury did. Even if the judge is biased (he probably is), they'll only get a new trial if he allowed (or disallowed) testimony or evidence that he shouldn't have or made incorrect rulings during the trial.

Re:Can you say conflict of interest? (1, Insightful)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686373)

The TPB lawyers didn't do their homework

I've seen enough episodes of Law and Order to know that they probably did. It's why you don't lay down your left bower [wikipedia.org] first round.

HAD they pulled it out earlier and still lost, they might not have any recourse for a retrial. They held onto it just in case they lost, then they could go "Oh, look at this conflict of interest."

The piece of knowledge wouldn't have been of use to the prosecution. "Oh the judge was biased towards us and we still lost, we want a retrial".

IANAL however.

Re:Can you say conflict of interest? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27686093)

Conflict of interest!

Re:Can you say conflict of interest? (1)

furby076 (1461805) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686361)

Yea if a jury member is found to have any relation to the subject they are dismissed. So are judges. The only people who are allowed to have biased views/associations are the bailiffs, court recorders, and attorneys - the decision makers are "supposed" to be completely neutral. Obviously this is very difficult, if not impossible, to find but we can mitigate such risks by making sure the decision makers are not affiliated with organizations that have interest in the outcome of the case.

No-Brainer: Appeal! (5, Interesting)

blcamp (211756) | more than 5 years ago | (#27685865)

If the allegations are true, they should easily win an appeal... assuming the rest of the judicial system is not so corrupt... allegedly, of course.

suck it up (-1, Flamebait)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 5 years ago | (#27685893)

lawyers/judges are often memebers of many many organisations, it doesn't mean they have the same rabid bias of an apple fanboy of /.

frankly it's hard to see how the pirate bay guys were ever going to win the way they carried on and refused to engage on any kind of meaningful level. i reckon the recording industry lawyers were rubbing their hands together at the thought of getting these chumps into court.

Re:suck it up (4, Insightful)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 5 years ago | (#27685983)

Occam's Razor says that they probably do have at least a little bit of bias if they are interested enough to join a group that lobbies the government.

Re:suck it up (5, Informative)

rbarreira (836272) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686017)

Not just a group that lobbies, a group that lobbies together with the prosecution!

Re:suck it up (0, Troll)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686065)

Occam's Razor is that the simplest answer is true, to me that's simply he's like every other professional - he joins lots of organisations so he has another piece of paper to hang on the wall. if he activly partisipates that's a different matter.

Right... (5, Funny)

denzacar (181829) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686113)

he joins lots of organisations so he has another piece of paper to hang on the wall.

I bet THAT was heard a lot in Nuremberg 60 years ago.

Re:suck it up (5, Informative)

Burkin (1534829) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686141)

Occam's Razor is that the simplest answer is true,

Sorry, but no. Occam's Razor says that the explanation of a phenomena should make as few assumptions as possible. In no way does this translate to "the simplest answer is true" because in many cases the simplest answer isn't true.

Re:suck it up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27686171)

if he activly partisipates that's a different matter.

Occam's razor of simplicity tells me ENGLISH MOTHERFUCKER DO YOU SPEAK IT?

Re:suck it up (1)

Kratisto (1080113) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686183)

That doesn't explain everything, though. If he just wanted pieces of paper on the wall, there are plenty of organizations he could have joined. He supports the organizations at least from the perspective that he shares their views enough to display a piece of paper saying as much, and with that much email spam, he's going to be exposed to a worse bias than a FNC viewer. Whether this can actually be legally construed as conflict of interest is beyond my ability to nitpick Occam's Razor.

Re:suck it up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27686001)

I'll take an apple fanboy over a lawyer or judge anyday.
The fanboys at least don't prostitute their ideals to whoever pays them money.

Re:suck it up (5, Informative)

sjames (1099) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686051)

lawyers/judges are often memebers of many many organisations, it doesn't mean they have the same rabid bias of an apple fanboy of /.

Membership is one thing. The judge is on the board of directors! That's just a wee bit stronger connection than fanboy.

That would be like allowing Steve Jobs preside over MS's trial.

Re:suck it up (1)

Lord Pillage (815466) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686161)

That would be like allowing Steve Jobs preside over MS's trial.

I would be more worried about one of his chairmembers presiding over my trial.

Close... (1)

denzacar (181829) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686181)

That would be like allowing Steve Jobs preside over MS's trial.

More like Steve BALLMER presiding over a Linux trial.

With the added bonus of Ballmer being the chairmen in such a case.

Re:suck it up (4, Interesting)

BuR4N (512430) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686073)

bias or not, I think its interesting that he, possible the only judge in Sweden that is a member of both these organizations got to be the judge in this case.

How do YOU spell Corruption? (4, Funny)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686119)

bias or not, I think its interesting that he, possible the only judge in Sweden that is a member of both these organizations got to be the judge in this case.

i-n-t-e-r-e-s-t-i-n-g....Hrm, you have a funny way of spelling "corruption"...

Re:suck it up (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686179)

> lawyers/judges are often memebers of many many organisations, it doesn't mean they have the same rabid bias of an apple fanboy of /.

No. However it does mean that they are judged by a particular standard of conduct.

While lawyers can get away with a lot of crap because their notion of ethics might
be a little peculiar, a conflict of interest is not one of them.

So, yes this little conflict of interest matters (if true).

Re:suck it up (1)

pjt33 (739471) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686197)

lawyers/judges are often memebers of many many organisations, it doesn't mean they have the same rabid bias of an apple fanboy of /.

Even so, they should avoid even the impression of impropriety.

Re:suck it up (0)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686287)

i will pay that he should have removed himself to avoid suspicion.

Re:suck it up (1)

Uberbah (647458) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686367)

it doesn't mean they have the same rabid bias of an apple fanboy of /.

Name one, or you're firing a cannon in a glass house.

ohhhhh (1)

Pvt_Ryan (1102363) | more than 5 years ago | (#27685901)

Things just got a lot more interesting...

I Wonder... (5, Insightful)

ganjadude (952775) | more than 5 years ago | (#27685909)

If they knew about the judge before hand. If they did perhaps (in typical TPB fashion) they went through the trial knowing damn well they were going to use this to get out of it

Pfft.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27686037)

Ask that of the other side instead, they at least had reason to know about the bias, yet they said nothing, continue to say nothing. Maybe THEY thought a 'redo from start' card would be nice to have?

Re:I Wonder... (2, Interesting)

TheP4st (1164315) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686107)

It is not like they are getting out of it. What will happen is that HovrÃtten (the Court of Appeal) will decide if there were bias or not. Depending on the decision it will either be a retrial or their appeals will go to HovrÃtten in due time. Not much of a change judicially, although PR wise it certainly benefits TPB.

Re:I Wonder... (1)

TheP4st (1164315) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686325)

I forgot to point out that IANAL and that the above is a simplification of the procedure ahead.

Re:I Wonder... (1)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686143)

If their lawyers are good and sneaky (and I expect they are) they simply kept that fact like an ace up their sleeve to use if they lost and easily get an appeal. If they had won and got acquitted, you probably never would have heard of this little fact. It would have been pretty hard for the prosecution to try the same trick, as it would have been tantamount to admitting that they made sure to have the first trial in front of a judge biased in their favor, talk about embarassing...

Re:I Wonder... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27686203)

They didn't. They found out that one of the lay-judges was biased and had him excluded. They explicitly say in TFA (I think, it could also be one of the other articles I read) that they didn't know...

Re:I Wonder... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27686229)

At some point the specifics will be lost. The only thing that will be remembered, and what will be heralded by politicians and media types is the a download site was convicted of piracy. People don't remember details, they remember sound bytes; and even then they usually get the sound bytes wrong.

If TPB knew and they were planning to use it as a strategy then it would could only be seen as self serving, since it would be detrimental to the rest of the community.

In the words of Lionell Hutz (5, Funny)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#27685939)

I move for a bad court thingie!

Re:In the words of Lionell Hutz (5, Funny)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686013)

"You mean a mistrial?" "That's why you're the judge, and I'm the law... talking... guy."

Re:In the words of Lionell Hutz (5, Funny)

ndavis (1499237) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686121)

Well he's had it in for me ever since I kinda ran over his dog... Well, replace the word "kinda" with "repeatedly" and the word "dog" with "son,".

Sweden, Sweden, Sweden (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686061)

Well, there goes that reputation for neutrality.

Shouldn't Judges remove themselves? (4, Interesting)

rotide (1015173) | more than 5 years ago | (#27685941)

IANAL/IANAJ..

Aren't Judges supposed to remove themselves from a case if there is a known conflict of interest or an arguable bias? Don't they get in trouble for presiding over cases with this bias?

Maybe someone with a background in law can answer this? Google didn't seem to want to give any definitive answers. Then again, maybe the laws in Sweden are different?

Re:Shouldn't Judges remove themselves? (3, Informative)

Shrike82 (1471633) | more than 5 years ago | (#27685989)

As much as it pains me to use Wikipedia for a meaningful discussion of facts:

Those with a conflict of interests are expected to recuse themselves from (i.e., abstain from) decisions where such a conflict exists. The imperative for recusal varies depending upon the circumstance and profession, either as common sense ethics, codified ethics, or by statute. For example, if the governing board of a government agency is considering hiring a consulting firm for some task, and one firm being considered has, as a partner, a close relative of one of the board's members, then that board member should not vote on which firm is to be selected. In fact, to minimize any conflict, the board member should not participate in any way in the decision, including discussions. Judges are supposed to recuse themselves from cases when personal conflicts of interest may arise. For example, if a judge has participated in a case previously as some other judicial role he/she is not allowed to try that case. Recusal is also expected when one of the lawyers in a case might be a close personal friend, or when the outcome of the case might affect the judge directly, such as whether a car maker is obliged to recall a model that a judge drives. This is required by law under Continental civil law systems and by the Rome Statute, organic law of the International Criminal Court.

Emphasis mine. Background reading and links for anyone interested here [wikipedia.org] . If this description is accurate (and I remind you again it's from Wikipedia so that's a real concern) then it would appear that any affiliation with copyright organisations would present a potential bias.

Re:Shouldn't Judges remove themselves? (5, Funny)

Kratisto (1080113) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686233)

Come on now! How often is Wikipedia really inacPENIS PENIS PENIS PENIS PENIS

Re:Shouldn't Judges remove themselves? (3, Funny)

Shrike82 (1471633) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686323)

Dammit man, I'm trying to pretend to work here and this sort of thing, making me giggle like a 7 year old schoolboy, is alerting my colleagues to my laziness!

Re:Shouldn't Judges remove themselves? (4, Interesting)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686239)

... then it would appear that any affiliation with copyright organisations would present a potential bias.

And the story doesn't stop there, because both Monique Wadsted and Henrik Pontén was also members of this organization, and he had seen Monique in other circumstances too. So it's not far fetched that he's even acquainted to Monique to some extent. And he still didn't remove himself in advance, or even informed of this.

Re:Shouldn't Judges remove themselves? (1)

gtirloni (1531285) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686255)

Looks like this judge could be facing a trial himself.

Re:Shouldn't Judges remove themselves? (1)

rhsanborn (773855) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686297)

Personal conflict of interest, which would be true if he had some personal or financial incentive. But simply having a position on an issue such as copyright doesn't indicate a conflict of interest in the same way that a murder suspect couldn't argue to have a mistrial because he knows that this judge has said before that murder is wrong. I don't know the full implications of this judges membership, but if he is a member of this organization as a matter of principle or belief in copyright, it doesn't necessarily indicate a conflict of interest.

Re:Shouldn't Judges remove themselves? (1)

Shrike82 (1471633) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686371)

Good point, but wouldn't it be better (read fairer) to have a judge presiding over a case of this magnitude that has no affiliation to any organisations with a distinct interest - political and financial - in the outcome?

Re:Shouldn't Judges remove themselves? (4, Informative)

bumby (589283) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686021)

Yes, yes they should, and the article mentioned this. The judge did however not consider himself biased. Go figure...

Re:Shouldn't Judges remove themselves? (3, Informative)

Uberbah (647458) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686311)

Maybe he's friends with Anton [janrainwater.com] Scalia [commondreams.org] :

Besides Thomas, Scalia also took part in the decision while a close relative had a substantial interest in the outcome. Scalia's son Eugene is a partner in the Washington office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, where one of the senior partners is Theodore B. Olson, who argued Bush's case before the Supreme Court.

Scalia refused to recuse himself from Bush v. Gore, although the lead lawyer for the plaintiff was, in effect, his son's boss. He took the same position in the various legal proceedings that accompanied the impeachment of Bill Clinton, beginning with the Supreme Court's decision to permit Paula Jones to proceed with her lawsuit against Clinton for sexual harassment, in which Olson provided legal assistance.

and

WASHINGTON - U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia refused on Thursday to remove himself from a case about Vice President Dick Cheney's energy task force, even though their recent duck-hunting trip raised questions about his impartiality.

But then, hackery has never been much of a problem [reason.com]

But Scalia's liberal critics have a point: His moral views have a habit of grafting themselves onto his constitutional philosophy. No one expects him to be a libertarian; he has stressed that his opposition to expanded federal power applies only to instances in which it is explicitly limited by the Constitution. But you might at least expect him to be oppose federal intervention within the parameters of his originalist vision. Or rather, you might have expected that until Gonzales v. Raich, this year's medical marijuana case.

Scalia voted to uphold the federal government's prerogative to go after medical consumers of homegrown pot, on the grounds that this activity supposedly affects interstate commerce. This ruling prompted Thomas to note in a caustic dissent, "If Congress can regulate this under the Commerce Clause, then it can regulate virtually anything--and the Federal Government is no longer one of limited and enumerated powers."

...for Scalia [nytimes.com]

The 11th Amendment says federal courts cannot hear lawsuits against a state brought by "Citizens of another State, or by Citizens or Subjects of any Foreign State." But it's been interpreted to block suits by a state's own citizens - something it clearly does not say. How to get around the Constitution's express words? In a 1991 decision, Justice Scalia wrote that "despite the narrowness of its terms," the 11th Amendment has been understood by the court "to stand not so much for what it says, but for the presupposition of our constitutional structure which it confirms." If another judge used that rationale to find rights in the Constitution, Justice Scalia's reaction would be withering. He went on, in that 1991 decision, to throw out a suit by Indian tribes who said they had been cheated by the State of Alaska.

Re:Shouldn't Judges remove themselves? (1)

kenp2002 (545495) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686055)

Last I check (IANALBMWIAPL) Judges only have to excuse themselves if they a personal bias or personal involvement in the case. Professional involvement isn't necessarily a "conflict of interest" if they feel that their professional involvement isn't going to factor in.

NYCL WHERE ARE YOU?

Re:Shouldn't Judges remove themselves? (1)

KendyForTheState (686496) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686299)

Isn't "paralegal" one word? It should be I Am Not A Lawyer But My Wife Is A Paralegal (IANALBMWIAP).

Re:Shouldn't Judges remove themselves? (2, Funny)

aunt edna (924333) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686079)

IANAL/IANAJ..

Aren't Judges supposed to remove themselves from a case if there is a known conflict of interest or an arguable bias? Don't they get in trouble for presiding over cases with this bias?

Maybe someone with a background in law can answer this? Google didn't seem to want to give any definitive answers. Then again, maybe the laws in Sweden are different?

Congratulations on scoring 5 with this.

Re:Shouldn't Judges remove themselves? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27686109)

The judge decides if he's biased or not, in this case he says he's not biased . Of course, it would have been good judgement on his behalf to mention his affiliations to the defense and prosecution and let THEM decide, seeing how anyone with a brain can see how this not only would surface, but also that it at the very least gives the impression of bias, which in itself is enough that the judge should excuse himself. Yes, bias isn't needed, the perception of bias is enough ("delikatessjÃv").

The European Convention shares this view about perception.

Note that one of the organizations explicitly state that they work FOR copyrights (it's in their name) and they're supported by IFPI [upphovsrat...ningen.com] , etc.

You are thinking as an American or Brit (1)

WED Fan (911325) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686115)

Aren't Judges supposed to remove themselves from a case if there is a known conflict of interest or an arguable bias? Don't they get in trouble for presiding over cases with this bias?

I would like to think all the civilized world would think like that, but don't count on it.

If the trial were held in the UK, USA, Canada, and a few others I have experience with, then the answer would be that the judge would recuse his/her self.

Hell, in some jurisdictions, if a prosecutor has a conflict, they'd do the same.

But, there are countries where this does not happen.

Re:You are thinking as an American or Brit (1)

GauteL (29207) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686295)

"If the trial were held in the UK, USA, Canada, and a few others I have experience with, then the answer would be that the judge would recuse his/her self."

Your post is in my opinion very, very patronising towards Sweden (one of the least corrupt and most transparent countries in the world).

It seems just like in the US, the judge is supposed to make the call himself. For some reason he decided that he wasn't biased in this case, and that is why this is causing such a stir in Sweden.

To be equally patronising; most swedes will probably say they expected this from countries such as the US, but not in their own country.

Re:Shouldn't Judges remove themselves? (1)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686185)

Aren't Judges supposed to remove themselves from a case if there is a known conflict of interest or an arguable bias? Don't they get in trouble for presiding over cases with this bias?

Yes and yes. So comments here on Slashdot on that the TPB lawyers didn't do their job to find this out in advance, and conspiratory comments on that they may have planned for this, is in my opinion not holding much water.

The idea is that this responsibility is on the judge, and the lawyers shouldn't need to act like detectives here.

Re:Shouldn't Judges remove themselves? (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686195)

He's not allowed to judge the case if there is any chance he may be biased, but then once again he didn't considering himself as being that, just well-informed in the area ...

Re:Shouldn't Judges remove themselves? (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686219)

I guess he's the one who should be sentenced and pay a fee but good luck with that ..

Re:Shouldn't Judges remove themselves? (2, Informative)

TheP4st (1164315) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686221)

No, the Swedish laws are not very different in that aspect. If a Judge find himself in a situation where there is a risk of bias or conflict of interest then he should inform the involved parties. At which time he voluntarily can choose to step down. If the judge do not remove himself then the involved parties can request his removal.

Re:Shouldn't Judges remove themselves? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27686231)

This is the same judge who asked the jurists whether they were members of pro-copyright organizations. The same judge who dismissed a jurist for belonging to a pro-copyright organization.

The mere appearance of impropriety should have been sufficient for this judge to recuse himself.

I do know one thing: if the judge had been a member of the Pirate Party, TPB would have been acquitted, and would not be able to be retried (double jeopardy). The judge would be sacked, and possibly face criminal charges.

Re:Shouldn't Judges remove themselves? (4, Funny)

clickclickdrone (964164) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686289)

>Then again, maybe the laws in Sweden are different?
Surely not? I thought US law was global?

Lesson Learned (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27685959)

Piracy is stealing they say...However he who steals from the corrupted....

Wow... the captcha word here is IMMUNITY...irony

Mistrial? (1, Interesting)

fallen1 (230220) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686015)

IANAL but would this not be grounds for a mistrial and sanctions against the judge in question? I am pretty sure that in America, if you have a bias due to affiliation then you should recuse yourself from the case as a judge. I am not sure about Sweden, but this would only make sense since a judge is _supposed_ to be fair and impartial.

Kinda hard to be impartial when you belong to the same organization as three of the prosecutors...

I call bullshit!

Re:Mistrial? (1)

Zironic (1112127) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686091)

Being the member of the same organization is probably not very uncommon, I bet most judges and prosecutors are members of the Swedish bar association and other legal organizations.

The problem is that the judge is part of several organizations that are clearly against the accused.

The Swedish court system is flawed (4, Funny)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686031)

Looks like the Swedish court system is rotten. Next thing you know, couple of judges will open a private juvenile detention facility, rule the government detention facility to be inadequate, harshly punish all juveniles appearing before them to long detentions, send them to their own private detention facility, bill the government for millions of dollars, and whoop it up in some Caribbean island. Nah. The Swedes better look up at the American Judicial System (TM), The Best Justice Money Can Buy.

Re:The Swedish court system is flawed (1)

GauteL (29207) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686175)

Yes. This could never happen in any other country were judges are expected to whether they are biased or not. [wikipedia.org]

Re:The Swedish court system is flawed (1)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686209)

Yeah, but what kind of punishments are said judges now looking at for abusing their power? Those motherfuckers are in *deep* shit & the civil cases haven't even started yet.

Do you know what they do to judges in prison? At the very best these guys are looking at 5 years in solitary since they won't be able to go into general population without getting shivved.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/13/us/13judge.html?_r=1 [nytimes.com]

Seems like a CONSTANT conflict of interest (4, Interesting)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686045)

How is a judge even allowed to belong to such an organization? A judge who does, and who believes what he is doing, will be the definition of activist judge. Judges aren't supposed to have their own agendas. They're there to execute the law and therefore ostensibly the will of the people.

Re:Seems like a CONSTANT conflict of interest (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27686159)

Yes, and in fantasyland, we all ride unicorns and wipe our asses with rainbows.

Every time a republican or democratic is elected president, one of the topics is the fact that they can nominate supreme court and federal justices that are sympathetic to their views.

It would be nice to have impartial judges, but it is essentially not possible. The more intelligent a person, the more they investigate and make opinions about the world around them. The best we can hope for is that the judge is aware of their own bias, and could step aside when they recognize a conflict of interest.

I would really like to see this judge removed from the bench and disbarred for misconduct. Deliberately keeping quiet about being on the board of one of the copyright organizations involved speaks to me of judicial misconduct.

Perhaps The Pirate Bay should sue the judge for abuse of power. If they can do that in Sweden.

A Little Simplistic? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27686053)

Much as I was disappointed by the PB verdict (though not surprised) this seems kind of silly.

Is the suggestion that no-one noticed prior to the trial?

To be a judge in most (civilised) countries you tend to have be very serious about due process, public confidence in the legal system, perception of fairness, and so on.

So even if this guy is a complete bastard and a former drinking buddy of Satan himself, I'd be very surprised if this issue hadn't been raised (i.e. declared) with whomever his bosses are well in advance of the case. I'd also expect a signed certificate from his bosses/peers confirming this.

If not, then the issue isn't that the guy was biased or not, it's that his legal and ethical judgement is seriously wide of the mark.

Not over yet (1)

Dan667 (564390) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686071)

Rocky did not kick the Russian's ass until the last round.

And I would have gotten away with it... (2, Funny)

Obama$$$RIAA$$$ (1527151) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686083)

...if it weren't for you meddling pirates!

Re-trial (4, Interesting)

castrox (630511) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686089)

Several experts in Sweden are calling for a re-trial with another judge.

It's somewhat embarrassing. The judge says that he made the call that his participation in "intellectual property groups" (upphovsrättsföreningar) did not bias him.

When the trial started a nämndeman (assistant to the judge) was dismissed because he was considered biased due to his profession as a composer.

It sure will be interesting to see how this one plays out. One might assert that the judge made a huge mistake by taking the case and thus wasting a tremendous amount of time and energy for both sides. Rather moronic for a judge, who should be able to see this type of conflicts.

Re:Re-trial (1)

ndavis (1499237) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686189)

It sure will be interesting to see how this one plays out. One might assert that the judge made a huge mistake by taking the case and thus wasting a tremendous amount of time and energy for both sides. Rather moronic for a judge, who should be able to see this type of conflicts.

Maybe the judge did it on purpose as he wants the case to go to mistrial and fail in the courts? Either that or he is so full of himself he thinks he can seperate his wants and desires to make a non biased decision. In that case he is full of crap!

The judge has absolutely no excuse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27686137)

... seeing as he seemingly excluded a lay judge [theregister.co.uk] based on similar associations.

So a lay judge is dismissed as biased for being a member of a pro-copyright lobby group, but the judge deems himself not to be biased for the same thing? This stinks really bad, no matter what you think of the trial outcome. Everyone deserves a fair trial.

Fir5t post (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27686139)

appeal (1)

r1n530uT (1127579) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686157)

great they're gonna appeal now and gonna win, cos it wasn't really a fair trial.

Swedish TLD arbitrators (1)

Zibri (1063838) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686169)

Monique Wadsted and the judge are both arbitrators for the swedish ccTLD (.se) Registry IIS/.SE's Alternative Dispute Resolution program.

See the opening. (2, Funny)

senorpoco (1396603) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686201)

If only I could think of a witty and ironic net NEUTRALITY joke right now, then everyone would like me.

Same judge that... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27686223)

...cleared the search warrant towards TPB +3 years ago, I wonder if that was properly handled, from the articles here in sweden it seems he took the warrant-request from APB and just signed it and added "take anything you find interesting" and let them have at it.

Summary of current debate (5, Interesting)

MaulerOfEmotards (1284566) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686249)

Lawyer Peter Althin, representing the Pirate Bay spokesperson Peter Sunde calls for retrial [thelocal.se]

There have been a series of interesting events surrounding the extended Pirate Bay process. It started with PRQ (the web hotel hosting TPB) being illegally raided, and to add the icing on that cake, the minister in charge acting in violation of the Swedish constitution by directly ordering law enforcement (see New Technology's "Was the Raid a Judicial Scandal?" [nyteknik.se] [in Swedish]). Then the FRA and IPRED bills passed in direct defiance of election promises and popular opinion folding to foreign pressure, as was the trial itself. It is hardly surprising that it turned out that the judge was cherry picked. The judge, Thomas NorstrÃm, argued that "My view has been that these activities do not constitute a conflict of interest," and he was not swayed in his judgement by involvement with copyright protection groups.

There was great surprise over the April 17th ruling [thelocal.se] . Even the legal experts that expected a conviction were taken aback by the prison sentence and the size of the compensatory fine.

The current debate on Swedish technical boards is one of conspiracy theories. Swedes are generally relatively hesitant of suggesting conspiracies, but this one reeks of collusion.

The former Chief Prosecutor Sven-Erik Alhem says (in Swedish) [newsmill.se] that this will hurt the international renown of Swedish courts as well as damage domestic belief in judicial neutrality and safety.

Also interesting is the public statement from the Pirate Party [piratpartiet.se] which calls this "Corruption and miscarriage of justice" and "The copyright lobby has really managed to bring corruption to Sweden".

This may turn out to be a huge inconvenience for the copyright organisations and for the ruling coalition.

Theoretical Issue, Not Practical (3, Interesting)

lacoronus (1418813) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686271)

Of the two organizations, only one appears to be problematic.

SFU is basically an organization for people who want to keep up to date with IP law. Of course you'll find judges here, and RIAA/etc. will of course get their lawyers from here - after all, if you go into an IP-related trial, you want someone with knowledge in IP to represent you.

SFIR is more problematic, as they state as one of their purposes is to "contribute" to the evolution of IP rights in Sweden and world wide. What kind of evolution is unsaid - it need not be copyright extensions, and I think a lot of the final decision in regards to the bias will depend on just what SFIR does.

So much for the bias of the judge. What will happen with TPB, then? Well, they may (or may not) get a new trial. But so far there has been no argument as to that the verdict shows signs of bias in finding them guilty. That is, biased as the judge may be, the verdict is unlikely to change. Maybe the fine will be reduced, but I doubt that, given that Carl (the old guy) is a multimillionaire and can pay the 30 megaSEK. (As a side note, the younger TPB guys were probably right in saying that they wouldn't pay the fine: The old guy will.)

Interestingly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27686275)

During the trial the judge accepted issues raised by the defence and seemed to be fairly impartial.

However, the judgement did seem harsh bearing in mind that all previous precedents set by TPB have been in their favour. I did question whether the standard of judges in Swedish "first line" courts is that high, as it appears TPB has successfully overturned judgements on appeal on more than one occassion.

Is it a suprise? (4, Interesting)

Xest (935314) | more than 5 years ago | (#27686365)

The prosecution got a guilty verdict without actually managing to prove any wrongdoing due to severe incompetence and lack of knowledge.

It was pretty clear something was odd about the decision, whether the TPB guys were right or wrong is irrelevant when the prosecution are unable to actually prove any wrongdoing.

You can't legitimately get a guilty verdict if you haven't proven that they're guilty of doing something illegal, accusations alone aren't enough.

The interesting thing now will be to see what happens as a result of this revelation. It's probably worth pointing out that this conspiracy almost certainly goes deeper - the first judge due to judge their trial was removed due to conflict of interest IIRC and this is his replacement, so the real question has to be who is responsible for repeatedly ensuring the judges presiding over this case have strong music industry/pro-copyright lobby links? Who in Sweden determines which judge should oversee a particular case?

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