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Microsoft Subpoenas Thrown out of Court 172

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the take-your-business-elsewhere dept.
liliafan writes "Following Microsoft's attempt to subpoena documents through US courts, relating to their ongoing anti-trust case in the UK, the judge in California has thrown the case out of court citing: 'As a matter of comity, this court is unwilling to order discovery when doing so will interfere with the European Commission's orderly handling of its own enforcement proceedings.' as his reasoning."
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Microsoft Subpoenas Thrown out of Court

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  • by rob_squared (821479) <rob AT rob-squared DOT com> on Thursday March 30, 2006 @09:14PM (#15031237)
    I'm glad that the judge was paying attention. On average I have more respect for judges than elected officials (mind you, not 100% of the time).

    And I learned a new word, comity: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comity [wikipedia.org]

    Comity is a term used in international law (and in the law governing relations between U.S. states) to describe an informal principle that nations will extend certain courtesies to other nations, particularly by recognizing the validity and effect of their executive, legislative, and judicial acts. This principle is most frequently invoked by courts, which will not act in a way that demeans the jurisdiction, laws or judicial decisions of another country.
    • Why should judges consider other countries' laws when deciding the laws of this country. Should we consider China's opinion on free speech, or Iran's position on freedom of religion while we're at it? The only difference between international law and Santa Claus is that rational adults believe in international law.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        Why should judges consider other countries' laws when deciding the laws of this country. Should we consider China's opinion on free speech, or Iran's position on freedom of religion while we're at it?

        That's a straw man approach if I ever saw it.
      • I figured they were talking about one country recognizing marriages from other countries as being valid.

        It would be pretty bad if countries would not recognize marriages as valid if they were performed in other countries. If that was the case and you and your wife wanted to go abroad, you would have to be remarried in every country you entered.
      • Why should judges consider other countries' laws when deciding the laws of this country
        Because that leads the other country to consider our laws.

        It works, empirically speaking. That's why we keep doing it.
      • by utlemming (654269) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @11:41PM (#15031777) Homepage
        The answer is quite simple: in this case it is a civil matter in which the United States does not have an interest or juristiction. Microsoft was attempting to use US Courts to get what they couldn't get in European Courts. The best analogy would be having your Mom tell you can't get into the cookie jar so you turn around and ask Dad (at least in my house, we learned that you don't do that because bad things happen) Also, the matter is in European Courts. If Microsoft was attempting to compel an order from a European Court it would be a whole different matter. But Microsoft wants to get into the cookie jar, and so it is asking a US Court to help when European Courts won't allow it. Frankly, I would love to see the European Commision have a hayday with it. While the Commision may not be able to do anything since the attempt happened on US soil and hence the Commision does not have jurisition, it goes to speak rather strongly about Microsofts attitudes and behaviors.

        But as another poster said, your orginional post is a straw-man argument. This is a civil matter that deals with the business laws internationally. It has NOTHING to do with human rights, which by the way are protected by international law. As the world becomes more intermestic (the idea that domestic or international issues have internation or domestic implications, consquences and effects), nations respecting other nation's laws will become more and more important.
        • Microsoft was attempting to use US Courts to get what they couldn't get in European Courts. The best analogy would be having your Mom tell you can't get into the cookie jar so you turn around and ask Dad

          More like Mom's third cousin than Dad in this case :)
        • The best analogy would be having your Mom tell you can't get into the cookie jar so you turn around and ask Dad (at least in my house, we learned that you don't do that because bad things happen)

          An even better analogy would be this: you're at your neighbour's house (maybe playing with their kids), and the neighbour tells you you can't raid their cookie jar, so you go to your own Mom and Dad to ask *them* for permission - and of course, they tell you they won't interfere with your neighbours' right to t

        • It has NOTHING to do with human rights, which by the way are protected by international law.

          Not in any way that counts. It still comes down to an issue of national laws, and if like me you happen to live in the only Western country without protection of human rights, well, fat lot of good the UN's going to do you.

          (I know a lot of Americans reckon that their President and Congress are basically ignoring their Bill of Rights, but at least you've got one. Our present federal Government in Australia is against
      • by Kadin2048 (468275) <slashdot.kadinNO@SPAMxoxy.net> on Thursday March 30, 2006 @11:51PM (#15031798) Homepage Journal
        It's not about recognizing any other country's laws as being valid here, which would of course be rather ridiculous (despite this we do it quite often through international treaties, and I stand behind my judgement), but not attempting to extend U.S. law onto another nation in a way that would diminish their sovereignty. This is the international case, but it works between U.S. States as well. It's basically one court's way of respecting another jurisdiction's right to make their own laws, which apply to themselves.

        Now, where your question really gets interesting is if the 'other jurisdiction' is obviously undemocratic and unjust. IMO, the notion of "comity" is based on an essential respect for the right to self-determination of others; when the laws in the other jurisdiction are obviously borne not out of self-determination but out of tyranny and oppression, it raises a valid question as to whether such courtesy and respect should be given. My feeling is that no, it should not; but this is a bit of a moot point when you're talking about relations between the U.S. and U.K. legal systems, which typically do not characterize each other as tyrannical. In fact it is possible, although not typically seen anymore, to use very old English rulings as precedent in U.S. courts. (You see this sometimes if you read old USSC or appellate court cases on particularly fundamental issues; somebody will have dragged out their Blackstone's Commentaries and found some particularly interesting Common Law case to mention.)
    • FYI - Judges are elected.
    • I really don't understand what was good about this judge's ruling. By the wording of the ruling, I'd think this sounds like stupid social posturing, and whatever way Microsoft tried to "cast" anyone should not interfere with what information they should have access to for a legal proceeding.

      It seems like if they're looking for information relevant to their case, they should not be stopped from getting it by they way they characterized their opponent.

      Maybe I've just been listening to the "information wa
      • It seems like if they're looking for information relevant to their case...

        Or they could be just trying to delay...such is their nature. Kinda like pulling a SCO.
      • Basically what the judge said, was that Microsoft couldn't ask for the right of discovery in a U.S. court and subpoena other people/corporations for information, all because they were involved in a dispute in a U.K. court. Basically, he said "we're not going to get involved."

        I think the flip side of his use of 'comity,' though, is that if Microsoft went to court in the U.K., and got whatever their equivalent of discovery powers are (power to have subpoenas issued), then the U.S. courts would honor them and
      • What's good about this ruling is that some other corporation shouldn't have the go fishing in your private confidential documents. Microsoft is essentially trying to go on a fishing expedition into their competitors data. Of course a US court should not go along with such shenanigans.

        If MS wants information then it can ask through the relevant channels.
    • There was no comity when Google obeyed China's laws.
  • What documents? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by E IS mC(Square) (721736) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @09:16PM (#15031245) Journal
    From TFA:"A Californian judge has thrown out Microsoft subpoenas asking that Oracle and Sun Microsystems hand over documents to support its case against the European Commission."

    What documents are we talking about?
    • Re:What documents? (Score:3, Informative)

      by Keeper (56691)
      Communication between Oracle and Sun and the EU commission.
    • That is exactly what Microsoft would like to know.
    • Re:What documents? (Score:5, Informative)

      by gstoddart (321705) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @10:55PM (#15031646) Homepage
      What documents are we talking about?

      Stuff they've already been told by a judge in Europe they're not allowed to have because it's been deemed irrelevant. Also from TFA ...

      She described Microsoft's subpoenas as constituting "an attempt to circumvent specific restrictions the European Commission has placed on Microsoft's right to obtain certain kinds of information."

      Without knowing the specific information, I suspect they got shut down in the EU, decided to try and do a little fishing in the US, and got smacked down for having tried to bypass another court's ruling. Kinda like asking your other parent if you can stay out late after the first one says no.

      Some evidence was declared inadmissable and not something they were entitled to. They tried to get it anyway. In a stroke of good jurisprudence, the US judge told them to get stuffed.
  • Come again? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 30, 2006 @09:22PM (#15031278)
    As a matter of comity, this court is unwilling to order discovery when doing so will interfere with the European Commission's orderly handling of its own enforcement proceedings.

    European Commission? "Orderly handling"?

    Surely they meant to say "as a matter of comedy".
    • The U.S. government,"nations will extend certain courtesies to other nations, particularly by recognizing the validity and effect of their executive, legislative, and judicial acts."?


      (not meant as troll, just ironic)

  • Judge Dread (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Firewalker_Midnights (943814) on Thursday March 30, 2006 @09:29PM (#15031308)
    Finally someone who was knowledgeable enough in these tech law proceedings, and has a stiff grasp of both local and international law issues stepped up to the plate and knocked a superfluous request out.

    Now, if only we could have this guy ruling on patent cases, things might look a bit better...
    • Yup. A judge is right if he or she goes with the consensus opinion of Slashdot. If they disagree, they must be wrong.

      In fact, I just had an idea. Why don't we do away with all elected and appointed officials. We can just run a poll for any new law that gets proposed. Majority rules. Slashdot has the most knowledgable people in practically every area known to man. Just ask anyone here. And when we have to discuss soap (lower case) and sex, we can always hire consultants.

      Of course, this means CowboyNeal wins
      • Apparently you would prefer that no one on Slashdot ever have an opinion about anything, ever, but simply leave it to our Wise And Good Leaders, Who Know What Is Best For All Of Us.

        Feh.
        • Since when has a Slashdot poster having an opinion mean that they are right? I think most believe they, and they alone, are right.

          Anyway, I'm right because I think longer and more carefully than all of you. I am trained in logic and philosophy. I'm right because I got my opinion from the Slashdot, and now my opinion is that the Earth is flat. I am particularly good at building on false premises, and after further studying Slashdot I know everyone else is a moron. This means you wouldn't understand the way I
        • Hehe. You just made a strawman out of his strawman. That was fun.
      • Hmm... politics with mods and metamods, friends, freaks, fans and foes lists. Sounds good to me.
      • I vote for Judge Fudge.
      • And when we have to discuss soap (lower case) and sex, we can always hire consultants.

        Paging Mr. Stallman...
      • What's the worst that could happen, if CmdrTaco takes over the world? Well, besides all construction projects being duped, traffic jams being replaced with the Slashdot Effect and SSN's being replaced with the person's UID?
      • Re:Judge Dread (Score:2, Insightful)

        by rohan972 (880586)
        Yup. A judge is right if he or she goes with the consensus opinion of Slashdot. If they disagree, they must be wrong.

        That's like saying to someone "You always think you're right", to which the logical reply is "Of course, if I didn't think I was right, I'd change my mind"

        To have an opinion means that you think people who disagree with it are wrong. You may accept the possibility you are wrong, and be open to learning, but you will live as if you are right until you are convinced otherwise. Then you will
      • Yup. A judge is right if he or she goes with the consensus opinion of Slashdot. If they disagree, they must be wrong.

        "The true test of another man's intelligence is how much he agrees with you."

    • by microbee (682094)
      No, he should be on the SCO case instead.
    • Look, leave The Judge [wikipedia.org] alone. he's dead now. Isn't that good enough?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 30, 2006 @10:07PM (#15031475)
    Actually, I heard it was chairs.
  • by MrNougat (927651) <ckratsch@g m a i l.com> on Friday March 31, 2006 @12:17AM (#15031857)
    The way to gather information on US soil is to ignore the courts. Surely the security of the nation hinges on Microsoft continuing to thrive as a company, especially in this time of war. That makes it a matter of national security, which means the feds should invoke the PATRIOT Act to demand whatever information they need without bothering with courts or subpoenas.

    Oh, the information is in the hands of a foreign land? And they don't want to give it to us? Must be terrorists; we'd better invade right away.

    (I know, way way off topic. Sorry, I just couldn't help myself.)
    • > Must be terrorists; we'd better invade right away.

      The US (or at least Pentagon) already considers the UK as little more than terrorists which is why the UK will get a dumbed down version of the new F35 joint jet figher as the Brits are deemed a "government where US technology may fall into terrorist hands". Of course the Brits are expected to fess-up all the good tech they have to the US.

      It is a bit like the recently signed extradition treaty where UK citizens can be sent to the US if the US justice sa
    • Ah, so much like my other post on here. Kudos.

      In many ways, Microsoft is like the space shuttle... a big, lumbering monopolistic beast that has gotten out-of-control, consumes way too many resources, doesn't do its job well, and should be replaced... but no one dares replace it because too many people (goverment themselves, and taxpayers) depend on it that everyone is too scared to touch it (or flat-out don't want to and LIKE the beast because it gives them a nice big fat paycheck and/or re-election).
  • by NotQuiteReal (608241) on Friday March 31, 2006 @01:40AM (#15032070) Journal
    If the EU courts mandate that only Wal-Mart can sell Microsoft products, then the problem will be solved, right?

    Cool people will no longer buy it, and Wal-Mart will beat the price down to where Microsoft makes no profit, so all the un-cool buyers will not be ripped off!

    win-win-win!

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