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FEB. 25, 1999
Before the Long Recess, an Official Eruption
Judge Jackson ends this phase of the trial by lashing out at Microsoft's Robert Muglia for evading questions

The Microsoft antitrust trial recessed with a bang on Feb. 26, when presiding Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson erupted in frustration at the final witness for the defense. "No. Stop. There is no question pending," Jackson boomed at Microsoft senior vice-president Robert Muglia, who was doing what many of the computer giant's witnesses have tried to do throughout the trial -- evading a direct answer to a question from Justice litigators.

Judge Jackson and lawyers from both sides then broke for a trial recess that will last for at least six weeks -- maybe more. The length of the recess depends on settlements of cases both Judge Jackson and lead Justice litigator David Boies are involved in separately. Microsoft lawyers say they'll use the time to prepare for the April rebuttal. But lead Microsoft counsel John Warden will spend two weeks in the Bahamas, beginning on Feb. 27.

Boies will be in court on Mar.2 and Mar. 5 settling two separate cases in New York. The following week, he hopes to settle a $850 million civil dispute between Florida Power & Energy and Maine Power & Energy slated for Mar. 10-12. Boies also has a two-year case to settle as attorney for Unisys Corp. before his "vacation" from Microsoft ends.

MURDER CASE. Judge Jackson also has his hands full. He has a homicide trial set to begin in his courtroom beginning Mar. 1. "It should only last four to six weeks," Jackson told Business Week Online on the way out of the courthouse. Lawyers in the Microsoft case plan to conference on Mar. 31 to present their rebuttal witnesses. Right now, the trial is scheduled to resume on Monday, Apr. 12. However, that date could slip if Boies or Jackson aren't yet done with their other cases.

Boies told Business Week Online that both sides have a tentative agreement to offer two rebuttal witnesses each, and an economist on each side, for a total of three witnesses each. The rebuttal period, he also said, should last three weeks. Then would come closing arguments.

The final witness, Muglia, caught some stern attention from the judge. Boies asked the Microsoft exec about a May, 1997, E-mail to Microsoft official John Ludwig from Microsoft CEO Bill Gates. In the E-mail, Gates wrote: "I am hard core about NOT supporting JDK 1.2." JDK 1.2 was a version of the Java program released by Sun Microsystems in December, 1998. Boies wanted to know if Gates's comments are often "taken seriously" at Microsoft.

"We take Bill very seriously in general," Muglia responded, but he insisted on explaining that the E-mail was misleading. Judge Jackson didn't want to hear it. "He doesn't like the idea of supporting [JDK 1.2]", Judge Jackson thundered. "I don't think you can read [the E-mail] any other way. Maybe he changed his mind, but that's what he's saying here. Let's not argue about it." Muglia continued -- and the judge let him have it.

When the last witness from Microsoft stepped down from the stand, the courtroom fell to a hush. Judge Jackson smiled at the crowd. Everyone then just got up and left. See you in April, or thereabouts.

By Mica Schneider in Washington


BW'S complete coverage of the trial

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