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So how much does an MS star witness cost – $1m?

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MS on Trial So often, the more that is charged for something, the poorer the value. So it is with Dean Richard Schmalensee's fees: he proved our maxim with his inept testimony. David Boies, special trail counsel for the DoJ, launched straight into an attack when he finally got to cross-examine Dickie last week. "How much money have you been paid by Microsoft?" Boies asked. Dickie huffed and puffed with embarrassment. He hadn't done the calculation. It had been going on for seven years. It had been intermittent work. "I just simply can't do it" he wailed. He couldn't (wouldn't would be more accurate) give a range or approximation. It became like an auction sale. Dickie started at $100,000, "but it may be substantially over that". Boies put in an alternative bid: "Over the last two years, has Microsoft paid you more than $250,000?" Dickie did not hesitate: "I think that is likely true." But there was more to come. Dickie bills NERA (a private outfit aka National Economic Research Associates, a subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan) which then bills Microsoft. But Dickie also gets an annual retainer from NERA, and bonuses. Strangely, the economist did not know the basis on which the bonuses were calculated - but on reflection, that's perhaps not a surprise. What was a surprise was that Dickie had received a bonus of $100,000 in 1997, $200,000 in 1998, and would receive another next month. Dickie confessed his hourly rate was $800. Our estimate is that he was so ready to admit to having had $250,000 in the last two years that it is likely that the figure over seven years is considerably greater - say $500,000. With his bonuses, and ignoring the retainer, and assuming a 1999 bonus of $300,000, it is probable that Dickie has had at least $1 million in fees from Microsoft. We hasten to point out, of course, that in no way does this imply that Microsoft is buying Dickie's opinions. Nor, we suspect, will Judge Jackson buy them either. ® Complete Register Trial coverage

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