Judge Puts Ruling At Risk

By eweek  |  Posted 2001-01-15

U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Penfield Jacksons comments in a forthcoming book about the Microsoft trial have legal analysts worried he has dealt his ruling a serious blow.

In a new book due out this week by author Ken Auletta called World War 3.0: Microsoft and its Enemies, Jackson bashes the company and the U.S. Court of Appeals in no uncertain terms. Of Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, Jackson said in the book: "I think he has a Napoleonic concept of himself and his company, an arrogance that derives from power and unalloyed success, with no leavening hard experience, no reverses."

He is even harsher on the appeals court judges who, he said, are "supercilious" and "embellish law with unnecessary, and in some cases superficial, scholarship."

Not exactly cozy words for a court that will closely examine his Findings of Fact and breakup order starting next month.

The judges comments left legal analysts agog.

"Hes undermining his own opinion," said Robert Lande, professor of antitrust at the University of Maryland. "He could potentially throw away two years of his life."

In legal briefs, Microsoft has said Jacksons intemperate comments show clear bias and he should be removed from the case. Onlookers agreed it is highly unlikely Jackson will oversee the case if it is returned to the District Court for clarification.

"Months ago, he concluded he would never see the case again," said George Washington University legal professor William Kovacic.

Meanwhile, both sides in the Microsoft case are preparing oral arguments they will present on Feb. 26. The Department of Justice has tapped two career attorneys, Jeffrey Minear and David Frederick, to represent the government.

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