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Judge In Kim Dotcom Extradition Case Steps Down 132

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the pesky-ethics-standards dept.
First time accepted submitter Kalriath writes "After calling the United States 'the enemy' at the NetHui conference last week (reported on Slashdot), Judge David Harvey has stepped down from the Dotcom case citing beliefs that the comments could reflect on his impartiality. From the New Zealand Herald: 'An Internet law expert, Judge Harvey had been considered the perfect choice to hear arguments on whether Dotcom and his Megaupload colleagues should be extradited by the United States to face charges of criminal copyright violation. The district court's chief judge Jan-Marie Doogue said Judge Harvey had made the decision to step down from hearing the case. "He recognizes that remarks made in the context of a paper he delivered on copyright law at a recent Internet conference could reflect on his impartiality and that the appropriate response is for him to step down from the case."'"
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Judge In Kim Dotcom Extradition Case Steps Down

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  • Translation: (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    The US bribed someone to get him out of the way so they can get a more acquiescent judge who won't give a damn about what the law says and about all the laws the FBI violated in either country.

    • Re:Translation: (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Chrisq (894406) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @08:55AM (#40684805)

      The US bribed someone to get him out of the way so they can get a more acquiescent judge who won't give a damn about what the law says and about all the laws the FBI violated in either country.

      Probably the music industry bribed someone.

      • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @08:59AM (#40684859) Journal

        And the difference between the two is?

        The surprising thing about US politicians is not that they can be bought, but how cheaply this can be done. The movies have suitcases full, the average senator goes for a few thousand.

        • by jythie (914043)
          Yeah, but they only offer those discounts to lobbies they know are already powerful. Go in there with a few kilobucks as a nobody and their prices skyrocket.
        • by pjabardo (977600)
          There are lots of non competing interests. They can sell out 1000 times. 10 thousand X 1000 = 10 million.
          • by Chrisq (894406) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @10:45AM (#40685995)

            There are lots of non competing interests. They can sell out 1000 times. 10 thousand X 1000 = 10 million.

            I remember reading about a British MP who took money to promote a local business. One of his pleas for mitigation was that part of his job was to promote local businesses, and would have done so if simply asked to anyway!

        • by Tom (822)

          Parent is correct, unfortunately.

          Bribery scandals in the western world regularily astonish people in the 3rd world - not for the fact that the west is corrupt, too, but because you can buy a senator or other high-ranking officials for sums that anyone of any importance in, say, Africa, would laugh about.

          • by Anonymous Coward

            It's because democracy drives prices on government downward. When there's only one guy who can be bought, he can charge a lot. When there are 100 guys who can be bought, there's always someone willing to be bought for cheaper.

        • by jpapon (1877296)
          I'll agree that politicians are corrupt, but I don't believe for a second that you can bribe a US senator for "a few thousand".

          Senators are, generally speaking, fairly wealthy. There's no way they're going to risk their careers for a few thousand dollars.

          Now, if you make a nice donation to their campaign fund, they might listen to you for a few minutes... but even then, a few thousand won't get you far. Look at the prices of a plate at one of their fundraiser dinners. Also, campaign contributions aren't

          • by Hatta (162192)

            There's no way they're going to risk their careers for a few thousand dollars.

            No worries, they don't have to risk their carreers to accept bribes.

            Also, campaign contributions aren't classified as bribes.

            Campaign contributions are absolutely bribes. There should be no ambiguity about this.

            They basically are, but the way the laws are currently, there's nothing wrong with them.

            All this means is that bribery is legal in the US, not that there is nothing wrong bribery or US law.

    • Re:Translation: (Score:5, Interesting)

      by blibbler (15793) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @09:16AM (#40684993)

      I think you need to get a bit of fresh air. New Zealand consistently ranks at or near the top of the least corrupt countries in the world. http://cpi.transparency.org/cpi2011/results/ [transparency.org] While countries like the US and Iran may have court systems that regularly make decisions for political reasons, that is not the case in most of the developed world. Just because you don't like the decision, doesn't mean it is corruption.

      • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

        by ohnocitizen (1951674)
        Exactly. If anything this judge stepping aside confirms that NZ is behind the US when it comes to our respective judicial systems. In the US it is considered customary and just for a judge with a conflict of interest to remain on the bench. If he or she is feeling especially patriotic, the judge in question may go on Fox and Friends to confirm why one side in a particular case deserves to lose "SO HARDCORE". Stepping down to avoid potential impartiality is liberal judicial activism.
      • You do realize that you linked to a study on the perception of corruption of a given government, not an actual empirical measure of corruption. Those are two very different things. Your final statement, which I agree with, does not rest on the incorrect statement before it.
        • by Anonymous Coward

          http://cpi.transparency.org/cpi2011/in_detail/#myAnchor4

          4. Why is the CPI based only on perceptions?

          Corruption generally comprises illegal activities, which mainly come to light only through scandals, investigations or prosecutions. It is thus difficult to assess absolute levels of corruption in countries or territories on the basis of hard empirical data. Possible attempts to do so such as by comparing bribes reported, the number of prosecutions brought or court cases directly linked to corruption

      • Re:Translation: (Score:4, Informative)

        by sed quid in infernos (1167989) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @09:50AM (#40685385)
        You site the CPI, so I assume you think it's 9.5 rating of New Zealand is probative of something. Yet, in the same post, you place Iran (CPI of 2.7) and the U.S. (CPI of 7.1) in the same category of corruption. In fact, the U.S. is within a point of much of the developed world" (all but 13 countries).
      • Re:Translation: (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Xest (935314) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @11:23AM (#40686451)

        So does Sweden, but when a judge which was part of a music industry lobby group presided over The Pirate Bay trial it was whitewashed as no conflict of interest.

        Whilst I agree that thereotically this is the correct outcome in this case, it does irk me somewhat that this sort of thing only turns out the way vested interests would like it to turn out, rather than necessarily how it should turn out if things were done right.

        I'm not sure if New Zealand being at the top of the transparency index given the whole MegaUpload debacle tells me that the transparency index is full of crap, or simply that the standard of transparency required to be the most transparent country in the world is a pretty depressingly low bar to reach.

        I think it's naive to beleive that simply because New Zealand, Sweden et al. are towards the top of this arbitrary index that there is no corruption involved.

        The fact that my own country, the UK is perceived as pretty "clean" is a little worrying given that politicians have been lying to our faces, and we know they've been lying to our faces for sometime says a lot. Between the last government with David Miliband standing up in front of the cameras telling us the UK had nothing to do with torture when we know fucking well it did, a fact which is now proven, and Jeremy Hunt under this government telling us he was innocent of wrong doing when we all know fucking well he wasn't because the evidence is sat there right in front of us proving otherwise I don't know how we can even come close to scoring a 7.8. Christ, the Tory treasurer was filmed saying it would only cost £250,000 to basically dictate to government what you wanted policy on certain issues to be.

    • Re:Translation: (Score:5, Insightful)

      by 91degrees (207121) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @09:19AM (#40685015) Journal
      Or maybe he stepped down because he believed that given his comments, one might reasonably question his impartiality in this case.

      Personally, while I agreed with him, I was amazed to read he actually said that.
      • I would like to think that is why it happened. Either he realized it on his own or some other fellow judges took him aside and 'explained' it to him. You can't throw out words like 'enemy' and still pretend to be impartial.

        For example, at present I can only think of a couple of opponents that would rise to the level of 'enemy' for the US. New Zealand most certainly does not. And anyone there who sees the US as an enemy isn't just wrong, they are insane.

        At present our enemy list has approximatly two entri

        • I thought it was Eastasia and Eurasia we were always at war with.
        • by Opyros (1153335)
          It's a strong word if you use it literally. But he wasn't doing so; he was riffing on a famous Pogo quote [wikipedia.org], and I imagine that was the only reason he used the word "enemy" at all.
        • by Hatta (162192)

          For example, at present I can only think of a couple of opponents that would rise to the level of 'enemy' for the US.

          I can think of about 306 million [wolframalpha.com] enemies of the current US regime.

        • by ColaMan (37550)

          For example, at present I can only think of a couple of opponents that would rise to the level of 'enemy' for the US.

          Hey there. Try and look at this from a non-US perspective.

          This isn't about who the US thinks is an enemy and what your definition of an enemy to them is. It's quite possible for someone to consider the US as an 'enemy' and for the US to consider them as 'just a trifling inconvenience'.

      • Personal or financial interests make one partial. Being influenced by the facts and coming to a conclusion is just being a judge.
        • by 91degrees (207121)
          The point is that there's an argument that he's not impartial. He very likely is, but it would waste everyone's time if someone wanted to make the argument, and any other judge is likely to come to much the same decision as he is, assuming he is impartial.
      • by Hentes (2461350)

        He didn't, he quoted someone else and then the whole thing got published without context and blown out of proportion.

    • Who did they bribe? The judge himself? If a judge in a criminal case (which this is) for any other crime calls the prosecutor "the enemy" in public speech, he or she will have to step down. To do otherwise would make a mockery of the judicial system they allegedly represent. The judiciary might have encouraged this, but only to avoid embarrassing themselves. It was his call essentially to announce public that he had already made up his mind about the case. The judge often makes this sort of decision public
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Probably not. He seems like the kind of guy who knows the truth and does the right thing, but by doing so leaves the decisions to others, who are less honorable.

      "All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing." -- Edmund Burke

    • Re:Translation: (Score:5, Insightful)

      by T Murphy (1054674) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @09:35AM (#40685191) Journal
      +5 Insightful for a conspiracy theory that doesn't even make sense? Seriously?

      I guess when a judge is biased in a way we don't like (i.e. the Pirate Bay trial) he's terrible and should be removed from the case, but when he's biased in a favorable way he's the best one for the case? Also, if this judge is so awesome, why can he be bribed? If he can be bribed, why doesn't the US just have him rule in their favor, rather than make him step down so another judge can be bribed for the ruling?

      The simple answer is he's as good of a judge as we hoped, but as any good judge would do, he recognizes his bias. Maybe he has enough faith in the other judges that he feels that the case would go better with someone else, as opposed to him staying on the case and giving the US a strong case for a successful appeal.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        There is a fundamental difference.

        Judges biased in a way we don't like (your Pirate Bay trial is a very good example) don't step down.

        Judges biased in a way we do like recognise they might be biased (or be perceived as biased) and step down.

        IMHO, in the first case there might be some financial (or other personal) motivation; in the second case, I think it's integrity.

      • But the judges biased the other way usually have financial ties to the copyright industry! Unless this guy worked for a file-sharing site there is no parallel.
      • by Hentes (2461350)

        Judges are not Wikipedia to be completely neutral, in fact their job is exactly to decide between two parties. When a judge has personal or financial ties to one of the participants (like in the Pirate Bay trial), that's a valid reason to demand him to step down. Simply having an opinion isn't.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        "I guess when a judge is biased in a way we don't like (i.e. the Pirate Bay trial)"

        Everyone is biased, there is nothing wrong with that. Being part of the lobby group for one of the parties in a case isn't a bias its a conflict of interest.

        There is nothing wrong with a judge having an opinion.

    • Re:Translation: (Score:5, Interesting)

      by dunkelfalke (91624) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @09:50AM (#40685383)

      Or maybe the judge just didn't like the case much - maybe because Kim Schmitz is a crook but has to be acquitted anyway - so the judge used this loophole intentionally to remove himself from the case.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by caitsith01 (606117)

      The US bribed someone to get him out of the way so they can get a more acquiescent judge who won't give a damn about what the law says and about all the laws the FBI violated in either country.

      I know it's not something you're used to, assuming you're a US citizen, but it's actually just that NZ is a country where the rule of law operates, and this is an example of the system properly and impartially dealing with the issue. Judges in NZ (and Australia... and Britain) aren't elected and, by US standards, are not beholden to party politics. Furthermore, except in exceptional circumstances, no bureaucrat has the power to prevent a judge from hearing a matter.

      Had he not recused himself, there would

      • Judges in NZ (and Australia... and Britain) aren't elected and, by US standards, are not beholden to party politics. Furthermore, except in exceptional circumstances, no bureaucrat has the power to prevent a judge from hearing a matter.

        This is generally true in the USA for Federal Judges as well.

        Except for the last sentence. In the USA, there are no "exceptional circumstances" that permit a bureaucrat to prevent a judge from hearing a matter.

        Had he not recused himself, there would have been a risk of a s

        • by qbast (1265706)

          Judges in NZ (and Australia... and Britain) aren't elected and, by US standards, are not beholden to party politics. Furthermore, except in exceptional circumstances, no bureaucrat has the power to prevent a judge from hearing a matter.

          This is generally true in the USA for Federal Judges as well.

          Except for the last sentence. In the USA, there are no "exceptional circumstances" that permit a bureaucrat to prevent a judge from hearing a matter.

          Said bureaucrat just needs to invoke "state secrets privilege" and case is instantly dismissed.

        • Except for the last sentence. In the USA, there are no "exceptional circumstances" that permit a bureaucrat to prevent a judge from hearing a matter.

          So if a judge went insane or committed some act of moral turpitude, there would be no power to remove him/her or prevent him/her from hearing a case?

          That is the type of situation I'm talking about.

    • by JosKarith (757063)
      The US threatened someone to get him out of the way so they can get a more acquiescent judge who won't give a damn about what the law says and about all the laws the FBI violated in either country.
      TFTFY...
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702)

      The US bribed someone to get him out of the way so they can get a more acquiescent judge who won't give a damn about what the law says and about all the laws the FBI violated in either country.

      Hyperbole and speculation much?

      The Judge said something moronic in public, which he knew could jeopardise the case for Kim Dotcom, and stepped aside. Nobody was bought, nobody had the thumb screws applied, a smart man did a stupid thing and is minimising the damage.

      Your tinfoil hat is stopping all of the sensible thoughts getting out. Take it off once in a while.

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by Tom (822)

      The US bribed someone to get him out of the way so they can get a more acquiescent judge who won't give a damn about what the law says and about all the laws the FBI violated in either country.

      [supporting evidence needed]

      Really. Or maybe aliens abducted him and this is a cover story so what they did to his nose does not make national headlines because it would unravel the inner earth conspiracy that the aliens are protecting in their alliance with the secret nazi government that is pulling the strings of the UN.

      Oh dear, I fear this will show up on Google and some poor idiot actually believes it.

    • by DesScorp (410532)

      The US bribed someone to get him out of the way so they can get a more acquiescent judge who won't give a damn about what the law says and about all the laws the FBI violated in either country.

      He left of his own accord. That means if anyone was bribed, it was the Judge himself, and that would make him corrupt in any case.

      Or... you can come out of your tinfoil-lined basement, drop the conspiracy theories, and take the man at his word, that he left of his own accord because he did something stupid and is taking the proper action. But this is Slashdot, so I'm not holding my breath.

    • by westlake (615356)

      The US bribed someone to get him out of the way so they can get a more acquiescent judge who won't give a damn about what the law says

      The geek's instinctive --- and utterly lame ---- excuse for everything that goes wrong for him in law and politics is bribery. It is lazy and, worse, it is stupid. But always worth a quick mod up to +5.

      I remember the U.S. jigsaw puzzle maps I played with as a kid.

      Each state puzzle piece decorated with colorful icons representing their economic base, population, geographical features, travel and tourism, principal cities, historical events and so on.

      You could see political alignments and policy decisions f

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @08:56AM (#40684813)

    How much do you want to bet a judge who just "happens" to have a history of going harder on extradition cases, and just "happens" to have little to no experience, professionally or personally, using any technology developed after 1985?

  • The perfect guy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @08:57AM (#40684823)

    His gesture of stepping down marks him exactly as the perfect one to judge the case as he is showing his ability to be self conscious of his own bias and manage it properly

    • Re:The perfect guy (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Hatta (162192) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @09:06AM (#40684917) Journal

      Except that he's not biased. His statement that the US is the enemy when it comes to copyright law is completely accurate. Anyone who thinks the US isn't the enemy is biased in favor of the US and the copyright maximalists who run it.

      • Re:The perfect guy (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @09:23AM (#40685061)

        The perfect copyright law is a matter of opinion. You and I happen to share the same opinion, but that doesn't make it any less subjective. If you hold an opinion so strongly that you refer to people who don't share your opinion as "the enemy," then that's a strong indicator of bias: an unwillingness (or even inability) to fairly consider contrary opinions. Fairly considering contrary opinions is a prerequisite for being a judge.

        I suspect that when he described the US as "the enemy" he was just engaging in a bit of harmless rhetoric. He probably could have been as impartial as anyone else. As the parent said, he probably could have done better than most others. But, unfortunately, we can't measure impartiality objectively, so we tend to err on the side of caution and strive to avoid even the appearance of bias.

        • by Hatta (162192) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @10:15AM (#40685665) Journal

          Fairly considering contrary opinions is a prerequisite for being a judge.

          Yes, and when the contrary opinion has been fairly considered and found to be harmful, one can say so without impugning their impartiality. You have the same wishy-washy notion of impartiality that has infected journalism. Sometimes one side is right, and it's not wrong to say so.

          If you want competence from your judges you have to understand that they bring experience to the table. That experience is valuable. Anyone who hasn't concluded that the US is the enemy of good copyright policy is frankly too ignorant to conduct a fair trial.

          • by tnk1 (899206)

            Judges know that they can't have even the appearance of bias. He made a professional mistake and he's not taking the case due to it. The continued use of the courts is the perception, no matter how flawed, that the court will rule based on the law and not make its own laws up because it doesn't like them. Even when it is ruling a law unconstitutional, it is merely a statement that the overturned law is not valid against the "higher" law.

            Judges don't get to "fairly consider" opinions. That is the job of

            • by Hatta (162192)

              Judges know that they can't have even the appearance of bias.

              This judge does not appear to be biased based on his statements. Any impartial observer would make the same statements.

          • by quantaman (517394)

            Anyone who hasn't concluded that the US is the enemy of good copyright policy is frankly too ignorant to conduct a fair trial.

            The problem isn't that he concluded the US is the enemy of good copyright policy, the problem is that he cares enough about this issue to express/argue this conclusion, and it might be hard to separate his opinions on US copyright law from the issue he's supposed to be deliberating on.

            That being said there's not a lot on the original context so it's hard to say if there is a reasonable concern about bias or if he's just being overly cautious.

      • by jythie (914043)
        Which, by US standards is bias... 'if you are not unquestioningly for us, you are bias!'... which I suspect they 'communicated' to either the judge or people above him, who then quietly took him aside and explained what staying on the case might do to his career....
      • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

        If by "enemy" you mean that the U.S. entertainment industry produces the vast majority of all the content that Kim Dotcom pilfered for his own pecuniary gain, then yes, the U.S. is the enemy when it comes to copyright laws. Most movies are not released under a GPL-style, if you would like some that are, I can direct you to an awesome CGI movie about a bunny. Alternatively, I could suggest that those who take issue with current media distribution methods try to create something worthwhile themselves to share
      • by BryanL (93656)

        Everyone has a bias. The problem is, his bias against the US in terms of copyright is part of the public record. If it wasn't part of the public record I am sure he would still be on the case. Since his bias is public, it could be used to overturn the case (or at least call it into question).

        • Judges often have harsh words against murderers and child rapists entered into the record too . Are they too biased to hear those types of cases?
        • by Hatta (162192)

          It's not bias if it's accurate. Suppose I'm a judge, and in the course of my private life I make a statement that "water is wet". If later on I get a case where someone is claiming as a central point to their argument that water is not wet.

          Should I then recuse myself from that case? Would justice be better served by a judge who was not already aware that water is in fact wet?

    • Good point.
    • Re:The perfect guy (Score:5, Insightful)

      by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @09:12AM (#40684963)
      He absolutely is, which is why he should have shut the fuck up about her personal opinions.

      To the folk saying someone was "bought" to get this guy out; Never attribute to malice that which can be explained by stupidity.
      • Re:The perfect guy (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Kokuyo (549451) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @09:38AM (#40685221) Journal

        That is a nice saying but in the real world, when it comes to rotten situations it might just as well be that it's either stupidity or malice, neither or even both.

        Never discount any possibility without ample reason.

        • by tnk1 (899206)

          And what, the music industry paid him to make those comments? If a judge in the US made comments like that, he or she would be called on to step down as well. There's no other need to bribe or buy anyone off, he did all their work for them. There's no need to pay an assassin to kill you if you jump off a building all by yourself.
          The fact that it is very a convenient development for you doesn't mean you did it.

        • by steelfood (895457)

          First you look for stupidity. In the absence of that, then you look for malice. The whole point is not to start off looking for malice, because that's much rarer than stupidity. You'd end up expending all of your energy constantly planning for a rarity.

      • by Tom (822)

        He absolutely is, which is why he should have shut the fuck up about her personal opinions.

        You can't seriously ask experts on a topic to shut up about it, it would be a loss for all of us.

        In the greater picture, the interview might be many times more influential and important than the one case that will now be judged by someone else.

    • That and the fact that he wrote his thesis on the Statute of Anne
    • by Tom (822)

      Yes, but catch-22 - by recusing, he demonstrated his integrity and should stay, but if he stays, then he lacks the show of integrity.

      No, by recusing himself, he has demonstrated that he will be the perfect one to judge other cases of similar nature. This one should be judged by someone who has not made a public statement that could be interpreted as having a personal interest in the outcome.

  • by mbone (558574) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @09:02AM (#40684889)

    The judge was of course riffing on "We have met the enemy, and he is us." (Pogo, 1970).

    It was a fairly good joke, for judge, but I guess more humor than the NZ judicial system could bear.

  • Everybody, let's do the daily Two Minutes Hate against Emmanuel Goldstein...I mean America. We should whip ourselves into a frenzy of hatred and loathing for the enemy. Everyone spend moderation points on the most outrageous expressions of fear (which is pretty much the same as hate). By directing our hate towards an external enemy, we feel better and satisfy our feelings of angst from leading such meaningless existences.

    It's always 11am somewhere. I'll start us off: B-B!...B-B!...B-B!...B-B!

  • by Jesrad (716567) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @09:21AM (#40685033) Journal

    remarks made in the context of a paper he delivered on copyright law at a recent Internet conference could reflect on his impartiality

    Does that really make him impartial, or does that show he is knowledgeable enough about the subject at hand to properly motivate any decision of his ? A clueless judge would only be a better option only for the prosecution alone. Having an informed opinion about copyright law and its potential international abuses is a sign of someone who knows what is going on and what matters.

    • by Tom (822)

      Yes, except when someone whom you spoke out against is party - directly or indirectly - to a court case you are presiding over.

      Recusing himself was absolutely the right thing to do, and a good show of integrity.

      • So I can never become a judge now because I can not be impartial on most cases.

        Anybody who looks into the copyright or patent disasters we have today is going to see it any different... unless they are educated on the topic by the RIAA (the politicians still seem to know nothing, they are not learning anything except who pays more.)

  • by Triv (181010) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @09:30AM (#40685133) Journal
    The judge recused himself. He didn't step down. It might be a difference in international terminology, but I saw the headline and assumed the judge had left his position as a judge.
  • ...into a matter could hamper your "impartiality".

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