The Pirate Bay may have grounds for a retrial. It turns out that the judge in the case, Tomas Norstrom, might have a slight conflict of interest. He’s a member of the Swedish Copyright Association and sits on the board of Swedish Association for the Protection of Industrial Property.
Peter Althin, the lawyer for TPB cofounder Peter Sunde, said he’s asking the Swedish appeals court to consider ordering a retrial based on the judge’s possible bias, the BBC reports.
“In the autumn I received information that a lay judge could have similar connections. I sent these to the court and the judge was excluded in order to prevent a conflict of interest. It would have been reasonable to then review this situation as well,” Althin told Sveriges Radio.
BBC also offers perspective on Swedish law from former senior attorney Sven-Erik Alhem, who says it’s unlikely this will result in – a former senior attorney in Sweden – said the judge had made an error of judgement, but a retrial was unlikely.
The judge should have told the parties of his other engagements. Had he done that then they could make a decision on whether they wanted him as a judge in their case. I’m not sure the superior court could say that this was unfair, but had he been open then it wouldn’t have been an issue.
The legalities of Swedish judicial ethics aside, this seems to me to be very bad form for a case of such public interest and import. A judicial system needs to appear — and be — independent and unbiased. That’s exactly the image the court strove to present in its very matter-of-fact comments after the decision:
The court first tried whether there was any question of breach of copyright by the file-sharing application and that has been proved, that the offence was committed…
To then find out that a judge has very definite leanings towards one party really makes a mockery of the unbiased judiciary. As Rick Falkvinge, leader of the Swedish Pirate Party, told the BBC:
“The judge in one of Sweden’s most high profile case ever is also a member of an interest organisation for one side and associates with the prosecution trial lawyers in his free time? That is inexcusable corruption.
Again, no idea what the Swedish appeals court will do, but the moral authority of the decision has been critically weakened by this revelation.