Microsoft claims biased court adviser will delay case

Microsoft claims that a court-appointed adviser in the US Department of Justice's (DoJ) antitrust complaint against it is biased and will lead to additional delay in the case, according to documents filed today.

In its latest brief filed with the US Court of Appeals in Washington, Microsoft argued that the adviser, special master Lawrence Lessig, was improperly appointed without Microsoft's consent and is less qualified to interpret the issues than the US District Court the case was filed in.

In addition, Microsoft claimed that contrary to the DoJ's arguments, the lower court will be required by federal rules to accept Lessig's findings unless they are "clearly erroneous", and that the case will be dragged out because both sides will have to present their evidence and arguments twice - to both Lessig and then the court itself.

"No 'exceptional condition' exists that could possibly justify the reference of this non-jury case to a special master," Microsoft's brief said.

In the brief, Microsoft said Lessig's impartiality "might reasonably be questioned" because of an e-mail Lessig sent to a friend who works at Netscape Communications, that complained about Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser. In the e-mail, Lessig also compared his installing a Microsoft product on his Macintosh to "selling his soul".

Oral arguments on the appeal are scheduled for April 21.

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