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Can Sweden find an unbiased judge?

By Paul Jay, CBCNews.ca. The Pirate Bay trial has always had an aura of the absurd to it, mostly because the administrators of the file-sharing site have treated the collected threats against them with a mixture of contempt and humour (See this letter to Dreamworks).
But now the legal proceedings are themselves turning farcical.

In April the four men linked to the Pirate Bay file-sharing site were convicted in a Swedish court of breaking Sweden's copyright law., but a week later the defence lawyer called for a mistrial, since it was revealed Judge Tomas Norstrom - who presided over the case - was a member of several copyright-protection organizations.

Now, Wired's Threat Level blog has reported a new wrinkle: Swedish media is reporting the judge asked to look into whether Norstrom's associations represented a conflict of interest has been removed from the proceedings. The reason? She also belongs to the Swedish Copyright Association and the Swedish Association for the Protection of Industrial Property.

Which is weird. Norstrom's involvement in the original case is at least comprehendible: after all, how many judges in Sweden are equipped to deal with issues of copyright, and it stands to reason that some of these judges might be affiliated with copyright groups. Which doesn't mean he should have been allowed to oversee such a politically sensitive case, but rather that it is understandable how it might have shown up at his doorstep.

But to select a judge to look into this issue of bias and not check into the new judge's affiliations?

On the one hand, all of this legal bungling makes it appear likely the Pirate Bay founders might get another day in court. On the other hand, if every judge in Sweden is a member of a copyright group, they may find it hard swimming out of this shark pool.

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