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Microsoft Appeal: Company Cites Bias in Judge's Comments

Aired February 27, 2001 - 2:14 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: A federal court in Washington is hearing a second day of arguments in Microsoft's appeal, of that June ruling that the company acted to stifle competition and should be split up.

CNN's Jeanne Meserve follows the courtroom developments from Washington and joins us now -- Jeanne.

JEANNE WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: Lou, the arguments are over now, but the U.S. Court of Appeals here has never seen anything quite like this: seven hours of argument about one case, testament to just how important the case is to consumers, the company industry and to the law.

At issue: the ruling of Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson, which said that Microsoft should be split in two. Microsoft says, no, it should not be. And one reason it cites, what it says is the bias of Judge Jackson.

Judge Jackson has spoken extensively to the press. One example: To Ken Auletta, a reporter, he said -- he compared Microsoft on the day of the ruling in this case to the Newton (ph) street gang. That's a gang that was convicted of murder in Jackson's courtroom.

He said, "On the day of the sentencing, the gang members maintained that they had done nothing wrong, saying that the whole case was a conspiracy by the white power structure to destroy them."

Microsoft came down hard on Judge Jackson, but so did some of the seven appellate judges who were hearing this case, one of them Judge Harry Edwards. This is an excerpt of what he had to say during questioning of John Roberts. He was an attorney representing the states.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JUDGE HARRY EDWARDS, U.S. CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS: Lots of things that we think and feel about advocates and parties during the course of a proceeding, it doesn't mean that we're entitled to say because those feelings developed in the course of a proceeding we're going to run off our mouths in a pejorative way, because there is an appearance problem.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, there is an appearance problem.

EDWARDS: We don't do it for that reason. And the system would be a sham if all judges went around doing this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MESERVE: The core issue is not what Jackson thought or said, but whether what he did and whether it will stand. We'll find out when the court rules, probably not for a couple of months.

Back to Atlanta.

WATERS: OK, Jeanne Meserve.

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