The judge who ordered the break up of Microsoft came under fire in the second day of the software giant's appeals case.
The seven-member appellate panel criticised district Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson for talking to reporters about the case and for apparently making unfavourable remarks about the appeals judges. Chief Judge Harry Edwards said: "The system would be a sham if all judges went around doing this."
At the hearing, Microsoft attorneys claimed that Judge Jackson was "motivated by a desire to punish" the Redmond giant, and that "the district court had no right to presume that the government was acting in the public's interest" in ordering a break up of the company.
Although attorneys for the US Department of Justice (DoJ) maintained that, with regard to Netscape, Microsoft was trying to "strangle a nascent competitor", they acknowledged that the district court's recitation of a meeting between the two companies in 1995 "lacked clarity".
However, the DoJ believes there is evidence to show that Microsoft's aim was to harm Netscape.
Microsoft wants the appeals court to overturn Judge Jackson's ruling that it should be split in two and has spent the past two days questioning the logic of the decision.
Away from the courtroom, Judge Jackson has been very public with his criticism of the software giant and, at one point, famously accused Microsoft chairman, Bill Gates, of having a Napoleonic attitude.
In the New Yorker magazine, he claimed that Gates "has a Napoleonic concept of himself and his company, an arrogance that derives from power and unalloyed success, with no leavening hard experience, no reverses".
Representatives of 19 state attorneys general and the District of Columbia, which are plaintiffs in the case, joined the Justice Department attorneys.
On 7 June last year, Judge Jackson ordered that Microsoft be broken up to prevent future antitrust violations, and set other remedies all of which he suspended pending appeal.
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