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Plaintiffs’ attorneys in the California Microsoft Corp. antitrust case fired their second bullet Thursday to remove San Francisco Judge Richard Kramer from the case. After failing to get Kramer to recuse himself for cause, the class action attorneys dumped him with a peremptory challenge. “Judge Richard A. Kramer, before whom this action is not pending, is prejudiced against the interests of plaintiffs so that I believe plaintiffs cannot have a fair and impartial trial before Judge Kramer,” Oakland, Calif., attorney Jeffrey Parish said in a declaration accompanying his challenge. The judge did not return calls to his chambers Thursday seeking a response. The Code of Civil Procedure � 170.6 challenge caps a week of furious exchanges between the plaintiffs’ attorneys and the judge. Lawyers in Coordination Proceedings 4106, a group of about 30 antitrust and unfair business practice cases filed against Microsoft, first tried to pick off Kramer because of his ownership of between $10,001 and $100,000 stock in the software giant. The judge replied that he sold his Microsoft shares along with about a dozen other stocks months before he was assigned to the case Jan. 4. That didn’t satisfy the plaintiffs’ attorneys, who alleged that he still had a fondness and bias for Microsoft, which could keep him from being fair-minded. Kramer protested that he even sold the stock at a loss. “I hold no bias regarding any matter which will interfere with my being fair and impartial in this case,” he wrote in his reply. But the plaintiffs’ attorneys were not convinced and proceeded to take the step they said they had hoped to avoid: the peremptory challenge. In doing so, the attorneys walked into the unknown. They don’t have any idea which judge Presiding Judge Ronald Quidachay will assign to the case. Kramer replaced Judge Stuart Pollak, who is being elevated to California’s 1st District Court of Appeal. Pollak was a plaintiffs’ darling. Quidachay said Thursday that he was concerned whether a � 170.6 motion was timely. He thought the challenge for cause would go to the Judicial Council for the selection of an out-of-town judge to hear the matter. Now he’s faced with making a choice from someone on his own bench. Parish said there was no provision for a hearing on the peremptory challenge, either by Kramer or by Microsoft attorneys. “It’s automatic, and it’s timely,” he said. “It’s timely if not early.” The case had been set for trial Aug. 19. Kramer had set Jan. 31 for a status conference on the case.

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