Judge's antitrust conduct to be reviewed

ITworld.com –

The U.S. Court of Appeals will dedicate a portion of the oral arguments in the Microsoft Corp. antitrust case to reviewing the conduct of U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson, who has ruled that the company should be split in two.

In an order released Tuesday, the Court of Appeals said 30 minutes will be reserved for "conduct of trial and extrajudicial statements" by Jackson. Neither the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) nor Microsoft requested the court reserve time for that topic, despite the Redmond, Washington, software maker's claims in its appeal briefs that Jackson showed animus toward the company.

Both the DOJ and Microsoft officials had said they would rely on written briefs filed on Jackson's in- and out-of-court conduct, according to a joint filing from the two on Feb. 2.

A Microsoft spokesman had little comment on the change ordered by the appeals court, saying only the company looked forward to presenting its arguments on all the issues. A DOJ spokeswoman could not be immediately reached for comment.

The court on Feb. 26 and Feb. 27 will reserve a total of seven hours for oral arguments compared to the 4 1/2 hours initially requested. Jackson's conduct will be reviewed during the second day of arguments. The court said it will spend 75 minutes on monopoly maintenance and 45 minutes on whether Microsoft bundled its Internet Explorer browser with its Windows operating system.

Microsoft has vigorously defended itself against charges that it had acted in an anti-competitive manner and that it tried to monopolize the market. The company has suggested that Jackson has expressed contempt and dislike of Microsoft and its top executives. The DOJ, in appeal briefs, has defended his actions, comments and ruling that threatens to split the company in two. His ruling would create one company that focuses on the Windows operating system and another that focuses on applications.

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