Megaupload Judge Steps Down

| 18 Jul 2012 13:45

The New Zealand judge who called the United States "the enemy" has removed himself from the Megaupload case.

New Zealand Judge David Harvey created a bit of an uproar when he told a meeting of "A Fair Deal," a group that opposes U.S. demands for changes to intellectual property laws as part of the ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact negotiations, that those changes would have a definite and detrimental impact on the everyday lives of New Zealanders. "We have met the enemy and he is [the] U.S." Harvey said.

That's the sort of pithy quote that tends to get attention, particularly when it comes from a guy playing a central role in one of the highest-profile cases of copyright infringement of all time. Harvey was presiding over the effort to extradite Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom to the U.S. and had previously come to attention in May for ordering the U.S. to turn over evidence to Dotcom's legal team. He also delayed Dotcom's extradition hearing from August until March 2013 in order to give his lawyers adequate time to prepare a defense.

"Was presiding," I say, because the controversy that blew up once his comments became widely known has forced him to remove himself from the case. Harvey's words were described by Auckland University Professor Bill Hodge was "unhelpful" but not necessarily inappropriate, but the mere appearance of impropriety was enough to cause him to step down.

"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," District Court Chief Judge Jan-Marine Doogue explained.

Despite the appearance of bias, Harvey's departure is considered a loss. "He is recognized as one of New Zealand's experts - not just as a judge but as an expert who has gone into copyright issues," Hodge said. According to the New Zealand Herald, that level of expertise made him "the perfect choice" to preside over the matter. It's also very likely a personal loss; Hodge described the Megaupload matter as Harvey's "case of a lifetime."

Source: New Zealand Herald

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