Judge: Gates a Napoleon

ByABC News

W A S H I N G T O N, Jan. 8, 2001 -- The federal judge who ordered Microsoft split in two last year compares Bill Gates to Napoleon — even musing that the company founder should be required to write a book report on him — and said Microsoft executives behave like children.

“I think he has a Napoleonic concept of himself and hiscompany, an arrogance that derives from power and unalloyedsuccess, with no leavening hard experience, no reverses,” JudgeThomas Penfield Jackson says of Gates in the Jan. 8 issue of TheNew Yorker.

Of company officials, Jackson says, “They don’t act likegrown-ups!”

Retreading the Antitrust Trail

The story recounts the failed mediation that followed his rulingin November 1999 that the company was an illegal monopoly. Jacksonalso said he had mistrusted the company since finding it hadviolated a 1995 consent decree.

Jackson ordered Microsoft split in two on June 7. The company isappealing that order before the U.S. Court of Appeals for theDistrict of Columbia. The government is expected to file its briefby Friday, with oral arguments in the landmark antitrust case setfor late February.

Jackson said Microsoft’s lead attorney, William Neukom, is “notvery smart, or at least I don’t think he has any subtlety.”Neukom, he said, should have advised the company that ‘”the timehas come for us to be flexible.“‘

By contrast, the government’s chief litigator, David Boies, wasthe best lawyer ever to appear in his courtroom, Jackson said.

Claims of BiasIn its appeal, filed in November, Microsoft said the interviewsJackson has given are evidence that he is biased against thecompany. (See related story.) Jackson gave a newspaper interview — rare for a federaljudge — immediately after ordering Microsoft’s breakup on June 7,in which he said he had little choice but to accept thegovernment’s breakup proposal.

“By repeatedly commenting on the merits of the case in thepress,” the company’s brief argued, “the district judge has casthimself in the public’s eye as a participant in the controversy,thereby compromising the appearance of impartiality, if notdemonstrating actual bias against Microsoft.”

The New Yorker also reported that negotiations between thegovernment and Microsoft almost produced a settlement in March, butthe demands of the 19 state attorneys general who joined the suitscrapped the agreement.

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