Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
copyright, judges


RIAA Lawyer In Limewire Lawsuit Recommended As A Federal Judge

from the judicial-capture? dept

We've talked plenty about "regulatory capture," when people from industry shift back and forth into the federal government and help make the laws that impact the very industries they once took paychecks from (and likely will again in the future). But what about "judicial capture"? There was a lot of buzz recently about the former RIAA lobbyist who became a federal judge for the District Court in DC, and who is now ruling on copyright cases that could have an eventual impact on the RIAA. There may be some other similar situations coming up as well. Someone who prefers to remain anonymous pointed out that Senator Chuck Schumer recently recommended Katherine B. Forrest to serve as a judge in the SDNY district court. Among Forrest's recent cases? Representing the major record labels in their lawsuit against Limewire.

Now, this is not to say that Forrest wouldn't make a good judge. She very well might. This also isn't meant to single out Forrest. It's just that this particular situation, combined with the Howell situation, at least raises some questions about whether or not judicial bias is an issue. It's just not a topic that's discussed all that often. I would imagine that if she did become a judge, she would recuse herself from any RIAA related cases that might come her way. However, at a time when judges are becoming increasingly important in keeping things like copyright lawsuits from getting completely out of hand, shouldn't there at least be some exploration of whether or not judges' previous work experience might bias them in a particular direction?

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  1. icon
    weneedhelp (profile), 19 Apr 2011 @ 1:35pm

    Re: Are IP lawyers more biased? Or, should we ban all lawyers from becoming judges?

    (1)IP attorneys are more prone than other types of attorneys to bias - Absolutely so. criminal prosecutors dont (usually) have a large group dumping tons of money on them. There is no weed/cocaine lobby for example.

    If that tax attorney was taking huge sums of money from lets say the Federal reserve, and had a very strong bias to increase/decrease taxation, then yes, I would be against that person becoming a judge, for appearances only. He may be able to put aside his bias and be able to judge whats in front of him based on facts presented, but IMHO, highly unlikely.

    (2) attorneys should be disqualified from becoming judges. - Absolutely no, but, they should be barred from hearing cases where there is an obvious conflict of interest.

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