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The U.S. appellate court reviewing the government’s antitrust case against software giant Microsoft signaled Tuesday that it was particularly interested in examining U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson’s handling of the trial and his public comments for evidence of bias. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued an order setting aside one of a scheduled seven hours of oral arguments on Feb. 26-27 so the sides can present their opinions on Jackson’s public statements. The appeals court’s request for discussion of the role of Jackson’s comments is significant, particularly because neither Microsoft nor the Justice Department asked for it. During and after the trial, Jackson gave numerous interviews, many of which disparaged Microsoft. Jackson found Microsoft guilty of multiple violations of federal and state antitrust law and ordered it to break into two companies for a 10-year period. Jackson’s comments — and Microsoft’s allegations that the judge committed numerous procedural errors in managing the case — formed the centerpiece of two briefs the company has filed to the appeals court. Microsoft says Jackson’s comments show him to be biased against the company. It is asking the appellate court either to vacate Jackson’s ruling or to remand it to the district court — and a new judge — for further proceedings. Microsoft’s government foes — the Justice Department, 19 states and the District of Columbia — argue that Jackson’s comments do not show bias. In a Feb. 2 joint filing, the two sides proposed a schedule for the oral arguments that didn’t include discussion of Jackson’s conduct. But it’s apparently weighing on the minds of the seven appellate court judges, who also carved out more time than the two sides requested for arguments on whether Microsoft acted illegally to maintain its dominant market share and whether Jackson’s breakup order is a fitting punishment. “We look forward to presenting our arguments,” says Microsoft spokesman Jim Cullinan. “We will be prepared to argue all of the issues in this case.” A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment. Related Articles from The Industry Standard: Microsoft Jabs at Judge Jackson U.S., States Ask Court to Uphold Microsoft Breakup AOL, Others File Brief Arguing in Favor of Microsoft Breakup Copyright � 2001 The Industry Standard

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