Microsoft argues for appeal in lower court

Microsoft argues for appeal in lower court

In court papers filed Wednesday, Microsoft urged the US Supreme Court not to hear its appeal in its antitrust case directly, arguing instead that the case should move to a lower court of appeals.

In the filing, which had been expected, Microsoft pointed to what it called a litany of factual and procedural errors made during the course of its antitrust trial. The trial concluded in April, with US District Court Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson ordering a breakup of the company.

To give Microsoft's appeal "full and fair consideration", the Supreme Court would have to review the extensive trial record, something that would place an "undue burden" on the higher court, Microsoft argued.

"These appeals are not confined to one or two legal issues of the sort (the Supreme Court) normally considers on certiorari. They instead involve a wide range of substantive and procedural issues more appropriately resolved by the court of appeals," Microsoft's lawyers wrote.

The arguments were made in a filing known as a Jurisdictional Statement and respond to a request by the US Government and 19 states prosecuting the case that Microsoft's appeal be fast-tracked directly to the Supreme Court.

The Government has argued that the case should go directly to the Supreme Court because it is of national economic importance and must be resolved quickly.

Microsoft has argued that the Government is afraid to let the case go to the lower court because that same court -- the US Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia -- has issued at least one ruling favourable to Microsoft earlier in the case.

In its brief today, Microsoft reiterated many criticisms that it has already made of the lower court proceedings. It was sharply critical of the District Court in which its case was tried, saying the court had "largely suspended the Federal rules of evidence" by admitting "numerous newspaper and magazine articles and other rank hearsay".

In its effort to move the trial along quickly, the District Court also denied Microsoft adequate time for discovery and prepare for trial, the company said.

"The severity of the remedy imposed and the significance of the case to the Nation's economy make it more important -- not less -- that these appeals proceed through intermediate appellate review in the normal course," the company said.

DOJ officials and the states involved are expected to reply to Microsoft's brief on August 15. Microsoft could reply to that brief by August 22.

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