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Court Dismisses Lessig From Case

By Rene J. Raphael, CONTRIBUTING WRITER

In a ruling Monday night, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia granted Microsoft Corporation's request to remove Professor of Law L. Lawrence Lessig as special master in the U.S. government's anti-trust suit against the company.

The court's decision came after Microsoft made several attempts to dismiss Lessig from the case.

"We're...gratified for the decision, and we look forward to presenting our facts to the appeals court and to the district court if necessary," said Jim W. Cullinan, a Microsoft spokesperson.

"The court, not a private citizen, should be the one deciding the facts of the case," Cullinan said.

Lessig refused to comment on his dismissal.

The Justice Department initiated the case against Microsoft last year, arguing that the company violated anti-trust laws by selling Windows 95 and the Microsoft Internet Explorer in a combined package.

Lessig was appointed special master for the case to sift through technical evidence and present it to the court.

Cullinan said the company had many reasons for requesting Lessig's dismissal.

Microsoft should have been involved in selecting Lessig as special master and in investigating his background, Cullinan said.

"We believe the court should have notified Microsoft before appointing Lessig," Cullinan said. "We should have been involved".

Microsoft most recently field a suit against Lessig accusing him of bias towards Netscape Communications Corp., Microsoft's rival in the war to control Web browser service.

Microsoft's accusation was based on e-mails Lessig sent to Netscape earlier this month.

Microsoft and the Justice Department said they have not allowed the ruling to distract them from preparing to give their oral arguments in court beginning April 21.

Michael Gordon, a Justice Department spokesperson, said Lessig's dismissal would not interfere with the department's work on the case.

"We will of course continue to pursue our case on behalf of consumers and innovators," Gordon said.

Cullinan also expressed Microsoft's enthusiasm for the coming court proceedings.

"We look forward to presenting our facts to the appeals court and to the district court if necessary," Cullinan said.

Microsoft's major rival, Netscape, would not comment on Lessig's removal.

However, Chris A. Holten, a spokesperson for Netscape, said she thought the justice Department would win the case, regardless of Lessig's involvement.

"We are very confident in the Department of Justice's case, regardless of Lessig's involvement," Holten said.

Holten also said her company was in fullsupport of the Justice Department.

"We're very supportive of the Department ofJustice's case against Microsoft," Holten said."What Netscape wants and what everyone should wantis for Microsoft to start obeying the law."

Michael Chmura, the news director at HarvardLaw School, refused to comment on the ruling

Holten also said her company was in fullsupport of the Justice Department.

"We're very supportive of the Department ofJustice's case against Microsoft," Holten said."What Netscape wants and what everyone should wantis for Microsoft to start obeying the law."

Michael Chmura, the news director at HarvardLaw School, refused to comment on the ruling

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