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TPB: Selling Sweden's Supreme Court

Wee Tommy Norström's got nothing on these guys.

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STOCKHOLM (Metro) -- There are going to be conflicts of interest when the TPB case reaches the supreme court, says Swedish journalist and television producer Stefan Wahlberg. 'When I go through the Jure literature database I can see the majority of the supreme court magistrates have significant vested interests in copyrighted materials.'

Money in the Moonlight

'Outside their ordinary work they write books that are in principle obligatory study literature for Swedish jurists. In other words there is a lot of money that hangs in the balance for our highest magistrates if they don't see to it that respect for copyright is firmly maintained.'

Small Potatoes

But it wasn't big money for little Lennart Westman who composes artsy music. But the mere thought he could have had a conflict of interest in the outcome of the TPB trial meant he had to recuse himself even before the show began.

'I'm assuming the magistrates on the supreme court have the same respect for the conflict of interest issue', writes Wahlberg. 'Caesar's wife may not even be suspected, as they said already 62 BCE.'

'The TPB trial brings into focus the question of what minor conflicts of interest (delikatessjäv) a magistrate is allowed to have through lucrative extra jobs. As far as the now world famous district court magistrate Tomas Norström is concerned, it's about - amongst other things - his private assignments as a mediator in the IT sector. For the supreme court magistrates the issues are about well paid extra assignments for publishing companies. We'll see where the problem lies with the high court.'

Cavalier and Nonchalant

'The question is whether we taxpayers are going to allow our well paid magistrates to be considered unable to carry out their assignments because they have created conflicts of interest through their moonlighting. Or shall they jeopardise confidence in our legal system by not even revealing their extra assignments before a trial as important as that of The Pirate Bay? It's cavalier and nonchalant', writes Wahlberg.

Fragile Trust

'It's high time we placed demands on our magistrates', concludes Wahlberg. 'They enjoy the highest form of trust we citizens can give someone: the right to judge others. This is however a demanding trust that can easily break if it is not cared for. It's therefore not surprising that delikatessjäv ('minor conflicts of interest') comes from an old French word that means fragile.'

Sweden's Highest

Sweden's supreme court has 16 magistrates: Ann-Christine Lindeblad, Anna Skarhed, Dag Victor, Ella Nyström, Gertrud Lennander, Gudmund Toijer, Johan Munck, Kerstin Calissendorff, Lars Dahllöf, Leif Thorsson, Lena Moore, Marianne Lundius, Per Virdesten, Severin Blomstrand, Stefan Lindskog, Torgny Håstad. Munck has been chairman since 2007.

The average age of the magistrates is 61. The oldest were born 1943 and the youngest was born 1956.

Kerstin Calissendorff sits on the board of the Swedish Copyright Association.

See Also
Metro Sweden: Ställ krav på vår domarkår
Högsta domstolen: Sweden's Supreme Court
Justitieråd: Sweden's 16 Supreme Court Magistrates

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