Megaupload lawyer accused by US government of conflict of interest; defendants respond, “Yeah, well your mom has a conflict of interest.”

Megaupload lawyer accused by US government of conflict of interest; defendants respond, "Yeah, well your mom has a conflict of interest."

Who’s ready for some prosecutorial quibbling and litigious nuance? Please resist the urge to repeatedly slam a door on your head; I’ll try to make this as painless as possible.

We’re all familiar with the US government’s shut-down of file-hosting service Megaupload, and the subsequent indictment of several of its executives (including founder Kim Dotcom), right? Well, in an arguable display of their own pussification, the government is now claiming a conflict of interest in the defense’s retention of Andrew Schapiro, a “superstar” attorney who just happens to be a partner at Quinn Emanuel, a top law firm that has represented companies such as Walt Disney Co., Fox, Time Warner, Paramount, YouTube, and Google. The government says that, in the coming prosecution, it intends to call as witnesses numerous Hollywood and tech executives, including individuals who work for the aforementioned companies. Schapiro himself has previously represented YouTube.

Last Thursday, defendants verbally brought out the steel chair in response to all of this:

“[I]f the Government is to have its way in this case, the only lawyers before the Court will be those representing the Government. If the Government is to have its way, the only evidence available to the Court would be that cherry-picked by the Government, for the Government, from the universe of relevant servers slated to be wiped. If the Government is to have its way, in sum, Megaupload will never get its day in Court and the case will effectively be over before it has even begun…

[The government] knows that no such counsel would realistically be willing to litigate this case through to trial for free or without sufficient resources - or that any such counsel, even if willing, would have litigated at least a prior copyright dispute or two involving a work or a client somehow implicated within the ocean of ESI stored by Megaupload, which the Government would then claim is itself disqualifying. Knowing all this, the Government appears unwilling to litigate fair and square. Instead, it is acting to vitiate Megaupload’s defense before the merits are ever reached….

Any law firm that knows its way around intellectual property litigation will presumably have handled a case involving a client or work that can be spotted somewhere amidst the sprawling electronic repository. Of course, only the Government has had meaningful opportunity to scour the relevant servers, and only the Government knows precisely what is in its resulting discovery files. This leaves the Government positioned to play “Gotcha” with any firm that may step up to make an appearance.”

The perceived conflict of interest is just one reason among several that the US government opposes Schapiro’s appearance. Another includes an alleged procedural violation, in which the government states that it has been approached by four different US law firms, all claiming to represent Kim Dotcom. Go here for more information. I mean, if you’re into this sort of thing.

• US Government: http://www.usa.gov
• Dead Megaupload URL: http://megaupload.com

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