Appeals Court Reverses Previous Decision That Found Warrants Used In Kim Dotcom's Arrest 'Invalid'

from the the-wheels-of-justice-also-apparently-tread-water dept

The Kim Dotcom saga rolls on. The legal process that resulted in Dotcom's New Zealand mansion being raided by local police was always questionable, a fact that was never more obvious than when a New Zealand high court judge declared the warrants used in the raid "invalid" because they were "general warrants" that failed to specify what offense justified the raid as well as what particular items were being sought.

As Mike noted then, the warrants were problematic because they failed to specify which US law(s) had been broken (or whose laws, for that matter), something rather important in a case being run by the US government. A New Zealand appeals court saw things differently, however.

A New Zealand appeals court ruled Wednesday that police acted legally when armed officers raided Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom's Auckland mansion as part of a US-led online piracy probe.

The decision overturned an earlier finding that the January 2012 dawn raid was unlawful because the search warrants police used were too broad to be considered reasonable.
According to the appeals court, the warrants weren't invalid, but just mildly screwed up.
An appeals bench of three judges found the warrants were "defective in some respects" but not enough to render them invalid.

"This really was a case of error of expression. The defects were defects in form not in substance," they said in a 44-page written judgement.
As the appeals court sees it, failing to specify which set of laws was being applied (US/New Zealand) is more like a typo than an indication that the underlying legal basis is flawed. I would hazard a guess that "errors of expression" are the sort of thing that tend to crop up more frequently when one law enforcement agency acts on the behalf of another country's government… which is in turn acting on behalf of an industry.

And this warrant discussion isn't completely over. Dotcom's team is planning to appeal the decision, which will subject these admittedly faulty (by two courts!) warrants to another round of scrutiny, something that can't be welcome news for the US government's prosecution team.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. icon
    silverscarcat (profile), Feb 19th, 2014 @ 2:01pm


    Should I order pizza and download a movie from Mega then?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 19th, 2014 @ 2:59pm

    I believe that The Appeals Court found that the transfer of electronic data from the HDD's that was seized from the property to the US was unauthorized.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    RD, Feb 19th, 2014 @ 4:03pm

    Ex Post Facto

    "I will MAKE it legal!" - Emperor Palpatine

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Zonker, Feb 19th, 2014 @ 5:05pm

    Re: Ex Post Facto

    "I am altering the law. Pray I don't alter it any further." - Darth Holder

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Just Sayin', Feb 19th, 2014 @ 5:37pm

    no surprises

    Honestly, no real surprise here. The idea of the warrant is it's intent, and the failure to clearly express certain details on paper does not mean that the warrant itself is not specifically valid, or would not have been issued.

    The case against Kim is a pretty good one. He is trying hard to play out the last few cards he has in his hand before he gets shipped off to the US for trial.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Feb 19th, 2014 @ 6:28pm

    44 pages to cover ones ass and to bow down to another nation who has already violated your laws on multiple occasions.

    Maybe just sign up to be the 51st state and save time.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. icon
    That One Guy (profile), Feb 19th, 2014 @ 8:56pm

    Ah gotta love those 'after the fact' warrants...

    'Eh, so they got a few details wrong on the warrant, and didn't actually know what laws were applicable at the time they raided and looted the place, as long as they can come up with a decent excuse sometime in the future, retroactive legalization of the warrant should cover it.'

    I wonder if the sudden switch has anything do do with the article a while back, discussing how various companies/groups in the US were getting jumpy, really wanting to go ahead and go after MU?

    After all, if the raid is illegal, then any evidence collected from the raid is also illegal, but if the raid, and therefor evidence was suddenly found to be legal...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 20th, 2014 @ 1:57am


    That's not what the NZ Appeals Court said at all. They said that, whilst the warrants had flaws in their wording, the warrants were otherwise valid. However, the removal of the data from New Zealand was not permitted under the warrants.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    fred, Feb 20th, 2014 @ 4:30am

    Re: Re:

    they didnt remove it, yhey copied it. more pirate logic for yoi...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. icon
    silverscarcat (profile), Feb 20th, 2014 @ 6:11am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Except that if they did copy it, the original would still be there and Kim Dotcom and his lawyers wouldn't be suing to get all the data back so they could see just how they were being charged under what laws, etc.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 20th, 2014 @ 6:29am

    Re: Re: Re:

    So then he still has access to it?

    Nice fail, idiot.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 20th, 2014 @ 7:11am

    see what happens when you can digg some NSA dirt on NZ judges.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 20th, 2014 @ 7:21am

    Way to enable fishing expeditions. Get a general warrant, go in and find something, anything and fill in the blanks afterwords based on what you found. That appeals court should have it benches swept clean.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 20th, 2014 @ 12:03pm

    What the money can do.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. icon
    GEMont (profile), Feb 20th, 2014 @ 8:40pm

    all the mail that's fit to steal...

    Call me overly suspicious, but I can't help but wonder how much this decision by the members of the New Zealand appeals court had to do with email, telephone, snail-mail and travel surveillance by the NSA.

    And you wondered what they were collecting all that data for if they were not after terrorists... wonder no more.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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