NEW YORK (CNNfn) - The Justice Department Monday fired back against Microsoft Corp.'s assertion that a computer expert appointed to study the issues in its case against the software giant favors a key competitor
In what has become a non-stop battle between the government and the software giant, the government said Microsoft's motion to halt the proceedings before Harvard Law School professor Lawrence Lessig should be denied, calling the tactic "disingenuous."
At issue in the case was an e-mail message in which Lessig complained to Peter Harter, Netscape Communications Corp.'s (NSCP) global public policy counsel, that an installation of Microsoft's Internet Explorer 3.0 had damaged his bookmarks, a directory of Web addresses.
Lessig also says a colleague suggested that the issue might merit a lawsuit.
Justice responded by saying Microsoft had ample opportunity to prove Lessig was biased against the company, but has not yet filed a motion to disqualify him on that basis.
"Microsoft's request for a stay of proceedings before the special master represents an attempt to delay the ultimate resolution of the important issues facing the court.
"This tactic is particularly disingenuous as Microsoft is simultaneously telling the Court of Appeals that expeditious resolution of this case is vital," Justice wrote in a response filed Monday.
Justice said it found Microsoft's opposition to the special master "puzzling" since it has been responsible for filing hundreds of pages of arguments, declarations and exhibits that require analysis by someone with technical expertise.
"Indeed, in light of Microsoft's proffer of extensive, highly-technical evidence, Microsoft's opposition to the appointment of a special master with sophisticated technical expertise is puzzling," the government wrote.
The government said the necessity to resolve the case quickly also demands someone with expertise like Lessig's.
Justice said it has followed legal precedents by limiting Lessig's role to supervising discovery, receiving evidence and providing proposed findings of fact and legal conclusions.
Microsoft (MSFT) ended the day down 3/4 to 130-3/8.
--by staff writer Cyrus Afzali