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MS to demand government data in bid to derail sentence

Subpoenaed documents, more witnesses - obviously still enjoying the trial...

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MS on Trial Microsoft now seems likely to make one last effort to escape the antitrust noose next week. The company has until 10th May to file its own proposals for Judge Jackson's Final Judgment, so if it sticks to the schedule it should then be telling him how it ought to be punished. But instead, the company intends to ask permission to obtain large amounts of government documentation pertaining to the case, and to be allowed to call witnesses to argue against the government's proposals for its punishment. Microsoft general counsel William Neukom has been airily telling reporters that the 10th May deadline doesn't give it enough time to come up with an adequate response, but speaking to the New York Times yesterday he went quite a lot further. Going through all of the government documentation and dealing with all of the witnesses Microsoft wants could go "well into the fall." Do we hear a note of wishful thinking in that? The government side certainly interprets Microsoft's proposed moves as a stalling tactic, designed to stop the judge donning his black cap until after the presidential election, after which the company hopes for a more MS-friendly Bush administration. Given Judge Jackson's keenness to bring proceedings to a conclusion and to get the appeal dealt with by the Supreme Court, Microsoft's chances of actually getting his permission seem scant. But that doesn't necessarily mean that the company will be wasting its time in asking. Microsoft argues that the government's Final Judgment proposals are so extreme that the reasoning underlying them ought to be examined in detail. Hence the desire to get hold of all of the records of the decision-making process, and hence the desire to bring in witnesses to discredit this process. But you could - and the judge surely will - see this as an attempt to restart the trial, this time with Microsoft operating as prosecutor. If Judge Jackson does throw out Microsoft's request, however, then no doubt the company hopes to be able to use his decision as part of its appeal, strengthening its argument that it wasn't given enough time to set out its store adequately during the trial. ® Complete Register Trial coverage

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