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MS judge – ‘how I avoided Vietnam’

Just tell the 'Cong when the war's supposed to finish - LBJ, read and weep...

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Microsoft trial judge Thomas Penfield Jackson tempted fate yesterday by explaining how he had set out the trial schedule and ground rules in order to avoid getting into the "Vietnam morasses" of previous US antitrust trials. Previous antitrust actions against IBM, which got off, and AT&T, which was broken up, dragged on for years. But Register readers may recall the good judge, about a year ago, blithely announcing that he figured the trial could be dealt with in eight weeks. In fact, proceedings ran from October until the end of June, and depending on how he manages, Judge Jackson may not come up with a final verdict until next year. And then of course there's the appeal afterwards - if the DoJ and Microsoft don't cut a deal somewhere along the line, there's plenty of scope for the battle to crank on for a long time yet. The judge himself will however be out of it by then, so maybe he'll be able to count restricting its impact on his own life to around 18 months as a personal victory. His secrets? Restrict the number of witnesses, and set firm dates. To be fair he's been largely successful in this, as he's managed to keep the lid on delaying tactics, and although his keenness on cracking on has meant some areas haven't been covered adequately, this doesn't seem to have damaged either side's case disproportionately. ®MS

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