Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.
Please correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t it grossly inappropriate for a judge presiding over a case to say that she’s pretty sure the plaintiff will win before the case has been heard?
Last night, news came out that Judge Denise Cote, who is presiding over the U.S. vs. Apple ebook price-fixing trial set to start the week after next said, “I believe that the government will be able to show at trial direct evidence that Apple knowingly participated in and facilitated a conspiracy to raise prices of e-books, and that the circumstantial evidence in this case, including the terms of the agreements, will confirm that.”
According to Reuters (which has some of the best reporting on this saga so far), Judge Cote hasn’t read all of the evidence (outrageous, given her prediction) but did stress that her premonition wasn’t final (a relieving qualifier that feels like a band-aid on a severed leg).
[Insert reference to film Minority Report.]
While Reuters calls the move “unusual,” I have not yet spoken to any lawyers or those who might know about how unusual it really is. Perhaps it’s not so out of the ordinary for a judge to predict the future like that about a case over which she is presiding.
I have several emails out to lawyers who might be able to shed light on this. I will update this post as necessary.
UPDATE: Several lawyers, including a litigator who has knowledge of such matters, have responded to me privately and strictly off the record due to the sensitive nature of this case. Apparently, given that Judge Cote has seen some of the evidence and much of it has been made public, it’s not “outrageous” that she shared her views thus far with the lawyers for the plaintiff and defendant. That said (and digested), it still offends my sense of fairness.
Disclaimer: I have no strong opinion on who should win the upcoming trial between Apple and the U.S. over the issue of ebook price fixing. My tone of outrage in this short post is based entirely on my sense of justice. It’s simplistic, but I just imagine going into the principals office to settle a dispute with a fellow classmate (let’s call him Eric Holder) and having the principal say before she hears what has happened, “well, I haven’t heard what has happened, but I think Eric Holder is probably right.” Now, in terms of my opinion of who will win, if I were a betting man, I’d bet that the U.S. will win, and I’ll give you odds, too.