The chances of Megaupload founder Kim DotCom getting a fair trial in the US appears remote.
The United States government is making it as difficult as possible for Megaupload to obtain legal advice in the Land of the Fee.
While the top law firm of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart and Sullivan has sought permission to represent Megaupload in the case, the government has refused.
The government’s argument is that DotCom should not be allowed to use money he has “stolen” from Big Content to pay for a fancy lawyer to get him off.
As Quinn Emanuel told the court that the government’s objections are so broad that they would effectively prevent Megaupload from hiring any lawyer with experience litigating major copyright cases and would make it impossible to hire any lawyer at all.
According to Ars Technica, the New Zealand courts have seen the sense of allowing Kim Dotcom to withdraw tens of thousands of dollars to cover his living expenses while they decide on his extradition case. But the US government is moaning that these funds give Kim Dotcom and Megaupload plenty of money to pay for legal representation.
It is fairly clear that the argument is that Kim Dotcom is guilty and will be forbidden to argue his case in the US.
Quinn Emanuel said that the New Zealand court specifically earmarked the money for living expenses, not legal fees. Dotcom’s case will require a lot of computer forensics, expert witnesses, and attorneys with in-depth copyright expertise.
But the government has other reasons for not wanting Quinn Emanuel. The firm has extensive experience handling copyright cases for some of the top names in Big Content. The government claims that this is a conflict of interest because its other customers are Megaupload’s victims.
In other words it is arguing before a Kiwi court that it is better for Dotcom to have no laywer than one which also has connections to the “victims”.
Quinn Emanuel points out this broad interpretation of conflict-of-interest rules would prevent Megaupload from retaining almost any law firm with experience in copyright matters, because all firms that specialise in copyright law regularly accept major content companies as clients.
The legal eagles say that Dotcom and Megaupload are willing to have Quinn Emanuel represent them so it is none of the US Government’s business.
However the US government has gone further. It says that because Dotcom is fighting his extradition, he counts as being a “fugitive from justice” and not entitled to be represented in US courts until the extradition fight is over.
Dotcom’s laywers point out that the US has that little thing called the constitution, yet, if the Government is to have its way in this case, the only lawyers before the Court will be those representing the Government and any evidence available to the Court would be that cherry-picked by the Government, for the Government. Other servers which show that Megaupload had a kosher business will be wiped by the government.
We would have thought that the New Zealand legal system would be interested to hear of how Dotcom will be treated in the US. After all the extradition process is supposed to only be allowed if the person is going to get a fair trial. It looks like the US government is doing its best to make sure Dotcom faces a Stalinist show trial.