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With all due respect?: Court goes Microsoft on techno-giant

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Cite as: (2003) 77(10) LIJ, p.83

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By email to wadr@liv.asn.au, by fax on 9607 9451 or by mail C/- The LIJ, 470 Bourke Street, Melbourne 3000.

If there is one item that rarely raises a giggle, it is the humble court order. It is usually a document full of Latin phrases, italicised legislation titles and extensive quoting of sections, sub-sections and sometimes even sub-sub-sections.

Which makes the court order that came out of the office of Magistrate Judge Stephen L Crocker (what is it with American judges and middle initials?) of the US District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin extra special.

In July, the magistrate judge was asked to adjudicate over an application by Hyperphrase Technologies against global powerhouse Microsoft.

Thanks to http://www.findlaw.com, the following is the order the obviously unimpressed magistrate judge handed down.

“Pursuant to the modified scheduling order, the parties in this case had until 25 June 2003 to file summary judgment motions. Any electronic document may be e-filed until midnight on the due date. In a scandalous affront to this court’s deadlines, Microsoft did not file its summary judgment motion until 12:04:27am on 26 June 2003, with some supporting documents trickling in as late as 1:11:15am. I don’t know this personally because I was home sleeping, but that’s what the court’s computer docketing program says, so I’ll accept it as true.

“Microsoft’s insouciance so flustered Hyperphrase that nine of its attorneys ... promptly filed a motion to strike the summary judgment motion as untimely. Counsel used bolded italics to make their point, a clear sign of grievous iniquity by one’s foe. True, this Court did enter an order on 20 June 2003 ordering the parties not to flyspeck [to examine closely or in minute detail] each other, but how could such an order apply to a motion filed almost five minutes late? Microsoft’s temerity was nothing short of a frontal assault on the precept of punctuality so cherished by and vital to this Court.

“Wounded though this Court may be by Microsoft’s four minute and 27 second dereliction of duty, it will transcend the affront and forgive the tardiness. Indeed, to demonstrate the even-handedness of its magnanimity, the court will allow Hyperphrase on some future occasion in this case to e-file a motion four minutes and 30 seconds late, with supporting documents to follow up to 72 minutes later.

“Having spent more than that amount of time on Hyperphrase’s motion, it is now time to move on to the other Gordian problems confronting this Court. Plaintiff’s motion to strike is denied.”


A WADR thumbs-up to the sub-editors at The Age for their headline accompanying the newspaper’s August article on County Court Judge Roy Punshon’s decision to stop wearing his wig in court.

The Age headline read: “Judge decides wig is strictly for the chamber of Horace.”

While WADR liked that headline, we could not help but think that maybe a more direct headline was needed.

Say, something along the lines of: “Punshon over wigs”.


What does a tomato have in common with a legal professional?

Absolutely nothing in WADR’s eyes, except now it is the symbol for a brilliant new website that has popped up across the Tasman.

Recent New Zealand law graduates (insert joke here) Ben Lupton and Ben Skelton have set up http://www.insidesauce.com, a website for young legal professionals who are looking for the latest information pertaining to their career.

It lists information on salaries, jobs and news, as well as links to other useful legal websites. However, what separates this website from other similar sites is its awareness that being a lawyer does not stop at the front door of the office.

For example, it contains a section called “food and drink” that includes sections on where to take clients for lunch in Wellington and Auckland (and no, the answer isn’t Sydney).

According to the lunch-in-Auckland section, Cin Cin is the place to go to be seen, Pavilion is a great place for a breakfast meeting or a quick lunch and White is the place go if you want your client to have “their appetite sated and a clear idea of where their fees are going”.

It also has a section called “gossip sauce”, which is a forum for young lawyers to talk to each other about being a lawyer.

However, after having a quick read the other day, WADR is not sure it will be the most jolly of forums. Topic headlines included “redundancies”, “winter blues” and “mad cow disease”.

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