A judge in the extradition case of internet tycoon Kim Dotcom has stepped down after a reference to the United States as "the enemy" brought into question his impartiality.
Judge David Harvey referred to the United States as "the enemy" during an internet conference recently.
The Chief District Court Judge said in a statement that Judge Harvey offered to step down.
"He recognises 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
Judge Harvey specialises in internet law and has written a book on the subject.
He made the comment during a NetHui discussion on copyright and trade talks with the United States..
Judge Harvey said during the conference: "if I could use Russell [Brown's] tweet from earlier on: we have met the enemy and he is [the] US".
But Brown, a blogger and media commentator who chaired the internet conference, said the judge’s remark was an offhand joke taken out of context.
He said Judge Harvey’s remark was a pun referring to the United States’ negotiating position on the Trans Pacific Partnership, not declaring war on the United States.
The TPP trade agreement between New Zealand and eight other countries has implications for intellectual property law.
"He made the comment from the floor, a brief comment. The thrust of his point was about the detail of the negotiations.”
However, Brown accepted Judge Harvey’s decision to stand down over the comment.
“That was his decision to make. He felt he needed to do it particularly once it became a story.’’
Brown said he had a lot of respect for Judge Harvey.
‘‘He is regarded as one of the most tech savvy judges in the country.‘‘His ability to be frank and forthcoming at the conference was extremely valuable.’’
Dotcom's extradition hearing is due to be held in March, more than a year after his arrest on copyright charges laid by the United States Government.
The case would now be heard by Judge Nevin Dawson.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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