Judge rejects Google’s claim that DOJ attorney is biased

The federal decide overseeing the second of the Justice Division’s pair of antitrust lawsuits on Friday rejected Google’s claims that one of many architects behind the case, Assistant Legal professional Basic Jonathan Kanter, is badly biased and may undergo the corporate’s questioning at a deposition.

Google argued in a authorized submitting that earlier than Kanter turned a prime antitrust lawyer within the Justice Division, he represented Microsoft and different Google rivals, who paid him “millions of dollars over a period of fifteen years to advocate that DOJ and other antitrust enforcers bring antitrust cases against Google.” Justice Division officers countered that attorneys corresponding to Kanter aren’t normally topic to depositions and that Google had not met the authorized commonplace to query him.

The case, which is targeted on Google’s promoting expertise, remains to be wending its approach to trial. The Justice Division and 17 states are in search of $300 million and presumably extra from Google, alleging in federal court docket in Virginia that the corporate is hurting rivals by monopolizing key promoting applied sciences that companies have to generate income on-line.

U.S. District Decide Leonie M. Brinkema rejected Google’s claims, calling allegations of bias “essentially a red herring defense.”

Kanter has constructed a fame as an adversary of Massive Tech, beforehand representing shoppers like Google critic Yelp as a accomplice on the Kanter Legislation Group. After President Biden nominated him to guide the Justice Division’s antitrust division in 2021, Kanter was recused from the Google case for his first 12 months on the division, and was licensed to work on it after that. Kanter was re-recused in April, after Google retained his former employer, regulation agency Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, to characterize them within the case.

The Virginia listening to is a reminder of the Justice Division’s multipronged offensive: Prosecutors will get two swings to attempt to nail Google on antitrust fees showing earlier than one court docket in Washington and one in Virginia.

The primary of the 2 instances — which revolves round Google’s dominance within the search and search promoting sectors — started trial in Washington to a lot fanfare on Tuesday, marking the primary time the Justice Division took main tech firm to court docket for antitrust points in additional than 20 years.

On the Friday listening to, Brinkema admonished an lawyer for the tech firm to concentrate on what she described as “huge discovery problems” within the case. The court docket discovered that Google failed to supply hundreds of thousands of paperwork topic to discovery earlier than a decide’s deadline this summer time.

“In my view, this is a mistake,” Brinkema stated of the allegations involving Kanter. “Google needs to focus on … whether the advertising platform is anti-competitive — that’s the case.”

Justice Division lawyer Aaron Teitelbaum argued that Google was “attempting to elevate its disagreement” with the division’s staffing selections — a reference to Kanter’s hiring — “into a constitutional issue.” However Supreme Court docket precedent establishes that eradicating an lawyer for bias must be performed solely in extraordinary instances, which weren’t current within the Google antitrust case, Teitelbaum argued.

Though the investigation started in 2019, below the Trump administration, Google lawyer Eric Mahr argued that it kicked into excessive gear solely after Kanter acquired concerned.

“Mr. Kanter, along with the DOJ’s chief economist, who was not the chief economist at the time, appeared before the Antitrust Division on his own behalf to lobby DOJ to bring this case that he brought 11 weeks later,” Mahr stated.

Mahr famous that the Justice Division has stated profession workers additionally permitted the Google ad-tech lawsuit, however he added, “Mr. Kanter shouldn’t be allowed to hide behind the career staff, when he directed them to do that.”

Brinkema stated, “I might agree with you if Mr. Kanter was the sole attorney in this case.” The decide famous that Democratic and Republican state attorneys normal from 17 states had been co-plaintiffs within the DOJ’s lawsuit.

The Washington Publish is a member of the Information Media Alliance, a commerce affiliation that Kanter has labored with prior to now.

The decide famous that the Justice Division remains to be in search of hundreds of thousands of paperwork in discovery from Google, which the tech firm has not produced regardless of a decide’s deadline earlier this month.

“You need to get this case more focused,” Brinkema informed Mahr. “There are huge discovery problems.”

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