A Harvard professor acting as a special adviser on the Department of Justice case against Microsoft will stay in place, insisted a federal judge on Wednesday, despite what he called defamatory remarks by the software supplier.
Microsoft had presented a motion to remove Lawrence Lessig, who was appointed by Judge Thomas Jackson. Microsoft claims Lessig showed bias against the company in an email message last year to a colleague at Netscape in which he joked that he "sold his soul" by installing Internet Explorer on his Apple Mac computer (see Newswire 7 January).
Microsoft had also complained about Lessig's role in a debate entitled 'Should Microsoft Be Allowed to Swallow the Net?', in a forum on Internet law and policy in February 1997.
Jackson's irritation with Microsoft was reflected in the tone of his written ruling, in which he said the company's allegations against Lessig were "defamatory". He accused the supplier of "failure to offer evidence, sworn or unsworn, to give substance or credence to its innuendo."
"The bases given for those accusations are both trivial and altogether non-probative. They are, therefore, defamatory, and the Court finds that they were not made in good faith. Had they been made in a more formal manner they might well have incurred sanctions," Jackson wrote.
A Microsoft spokesman said the company was "disappointed" and would continue to work with Lessig, but had yet to decide whether it would appeal the decision. "The judge has ruled and we'll work with Lessig and provide all the information he needs," he said.
Lessig is due to present his findings to the court by 31 May.
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