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
    ltlw0lf (profile), 19 Apr 2011 @ 2:13pm


    How long until a bench seat on the Supreme Court is for sale?

    It's been for sale for a very long time (at least since early of last century.) Presidents who have justices die or retire from the Supreme Court replace them, and they usually choose justices in their best interest (and their best interest is usually the interest of those who put them in power to begin with.) District judges go through the same process as the Justices of the Supreme Court, where district judges are appointed by the President of the United States and confirmed by the Senate.

    Sure, Justices have to be vetted by the Senate, which of course work their best to try and approve justices that meet their best interests too. But in the end, they are all bought and paid for by someone. The good thing is that, for the most part, the system works because there are too many chiefs and not enough indians...the competing conflicts in interest keep the process neutral. But that doesn't mean that it is perfect (and it never will be so long as humans are involved in the process.) Because there is less of an impact with district judges, there is likely to be less scrutiny and thus more people get through...but since the RIAA/MPAA owns most of the Senate (and at least one person in the White House,) it isn't surprising that the normal conflict wasn't there to vet this individual.

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