Perhaps Judge David Harvey was a secret Megaupload user? The New Zealand judge presiding over Kim Dotcom’s extradition trial has recused himself from the case after he made disparaging comments about the United States. Judge Harvey called the U.S. “the enemy” last week when referring to the nation’s stance on copyright law – and after his comments became widely reported, he stepped down amid fears it would compromise his objectivity.
“We have met the enemy, and he is U.S.,” said Harvey, an Auckland District Court judge. His quote, riffing off cartoonist Walt Kelly’s famous line, “we have met the enemy and he is us,” didn’t sit well with legal analysts, who took it as a biased comment against the United States.
Judge Harvey didn’t make his negative comment under oath in a court of law, but while speaking at a public conference on July 12. In discussing the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an 11-nation trade agreement currently being negotiated, Judge Harvey sounded off about the American copyright laws that could potentially affect New Zealanders if the deal goes through. He was remarking that it is currently legal for New Zealanders to strip off or hack the region protection on their DVDs, which ordinarily prevents users from watching discs intended for foreign markets. The Trans-Pacific Partnership would make this illegal, as it currently is in the United States.
Harvey refused to elaborate on his remarks before stepping down, but the court’s chief judge Jan-Marie Doogue issued a statement on his behalf:
“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.”
Harvey, an internet law expert who has served on the high court since 1989, will be replaced by judge Nevin Dawson.
Dotcom, a flamboyant Swedish entrepreneur currently under house arrest in his $24 million Auckland mansion, is facing extradition to the Federal Court of Virginia, where he and six associates were charged in January with copyright infringement to the tune of $500 million for running the Megaupload file-sharing site. Also implicated in the case was rapper Swizz Beatz, who was listed on the now-defunct Megaupload website as its CEO at the time of the January raid. While Swizz Beatz’s lawyers explained he “was never involved in any meaningful way,” papers filed last weekend in Virginia indicate the U.S. Department of Justice “has laid out the possibility of serving legal papers” to him.