U.S. urges appeals court to stay out of Microsoft case

Case could shift directly to high court

Antitrust trial

June 15, 2000|By Lyle Denniston | Lyle Denniston,SUN NATIONAL STAFF

WASHINGTON - The Justice Department and 19 states urged an appeals court yesterday to stay out of the Microsoft Corp. antitrust case until a federal judge decides whether to send it directly to the Supreme Court.

The case has gone, at least temporarily, to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the tribunal where Microsoft wants it to remain, expecting more sympathetic treatment there.

If the case is shifted to the Supreme Court, the Justice Department and the states noted in a new filing, the appeals court will lose its authority to take any action on the case as long as it is before the Supreme Court.

The filing also asked the appeals court to throw out Microsoft's plea to delay for months the imposition of any remedies on the software company for its antitrust violations.

U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson, finding that Microsoft had repeatedly violated antitrust law, has ordered the company broken in two and has imposed sweeping limits on its dealings with competitors or partners in the computer industry.

As the sparring continued over which court will review the case, Microsoft said in its own new filing that it needs more time to reply to the governments' effort to shift the case immediately to the highest court.

It urged Jackson to allow it until Monday to file its objection to that shift. Microsoft is set to argue then that the case belongs in the appeals court, which should be allowed to rule on the issues before any last-resort review by the Supreme Court.

The Justice Department and the states prefer immediate review by the Supreme Court, saying the case potentially will have so great an effect on the computer industry that it should be decided as soon as possible. Letting the case go first to the appeals court, they argue, would mean only more delay.

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