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Judge wants Oracle trial to be open

Judge wants Oracle trial to be open

The judge overseeing the US government's case to block Oracle's PeopleSof acquisition has said that he wants the case to be as open as possible, rebuking a request by the government to keep part of the proceedings behind closed doors.

While acknowledging that there are legitimate reasons for wanting to keep some of the information in the case confidential, US District Court Judge Vaughn Walker said he did not want to impair the transparency of the legal process.

"I am very reluctant to have anything upon which the court bases its decision under wraps," Walker said during a case management conference in the US District Court for the Northern District of California. "This is not a national security case."

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) and 10 US states are suing Oracle to block its proposed $US9.4 billion hostile takeover of rival PeopleSoft.

The plaintiffs had asked the judge to seal highly confidential information during the trial, a measure that would have included barring news media from the courtroom and reviewing protected information in the judge's chambers instead of an open court.

Attorneys for the DOJ had requested confidentiality for certain information, including business data and software procurement strategies provided by third parties.

Among those who have provided the DOJ with information were the US Department of Defense and Oracle rivals SAP, Microsoft and Lawson Software.

Lawyers representing several of those third parties requested at a court hearing last month that information they provided would be kept secret.

At the time, Oracle won access to those records for its in-house lawyers.

Judge Walker also granted the DOJ an extra week to examine Oracle's discount request forms because of problems it had in obtaining the information.

Oracle delivered 188 boxes of materials to the DOJ a day later than ordered by the court, and the electronic version was unusable because of technical issues that were not resolved until April 5, DOJ lawyer Claude Scott said.

The DOJ has already complained about Oracle withholding discount forms during its investigation.

The forms provide some of the most direct evidence that PeopleSoft's presence in the market affects prices and features of Oracle's software, according to the DOJ.

Oracle and the DOJ are scheduled to meet in court again May 21 for a tutorial to get the judge up to speed on the enterprise applications market.

The DOJ plans to show a video of sales presentations by Oracle and PeopleSoft, while Oracle plans a live presentation, lawyers for both sides said.

A pretrial conference in the case has been set for June 2, with the trial scheduled to start June 7.

The trial is expected to last about a month.


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