Pirate Bay: Court nearing decision on conflict claim

A defendant's lawyer has until June 23 to file his views in the matter and then the ruling should come quickly

The Swedish court of appeals is getting closer to deciding whether the judge who handled the case involving The Pirate Bay file-sharing service was biased.

The court is waiting for comments from Per E Samuelson, who defended Carl Lundström in The Pirate Bay trial, and should then be able to make a decision. Samuelson has until June 23 to file his views.

"I can't give an exact date, but our goal is to handle this as fast as possible," said Fredrik Sjövall, law clerk at the court of appeal.

Allegations of a conflict of interest were leveled at the district court judge, Tomas Norström, because of his membership in pro-copyright organizations.

In April, Norström issued a guilty verdict against the operators of The Pirate Bay site, sentencing them to a year in prison and ordering them to pay damages of 30 million Swedish kronor (US$3.8 million).

During the last 10 days, the court of appeals has received comments on the issue from the district court, the prosecutor and lawyers from the music and movie industries.

They are all of the opinion that Norström was unbiased. The district court said that being a member of pro-copyright organizations is a way for judges to learn more about the issues and is not grounds for a conflict of interest claim. On June 10, prosecutor Håkan Roswall filed his comments, underscoring the opinion of the district court.

Roswall also attacked Samuelson for not sticking to facts and making loose assumptions when trying to prove that there was a conflict of interest.

So it shouldn't come as a surprise that Samuelson wants the chance to file another round of comments to defend himself.

Monique Wadsted and Peter Danowsky, lawyers who represented the entertainment industry in The Pirate Bay case, filed their comments Monday, and said only that they agreed with the district court and Roswall.

Their view that Norström was unbiased isn't a surprise.

If the court of appeals decides that Norström had a conflict interest the case will return to the district court for another trial, and the victory the entertainment industry scored in April would be moot.

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