Apple and Court-Appointed E-Books Monitor Off to a Good Start

Roger Parloff, reporting for Fortune:

Apple accused the monitor, Michael Bromwich, a partner at the law firm of Goodwin Procter, of charging excessive fees, behaving in an “unfettered and inappropriate manner,” relying on “secret communications with the court,” evincing “incredibly disruptive” mission creep, and acting in ways that threatened to turn him into an “quasi-inquisitional” offshoot of the federal judge who appointed him in violation of the constitutional principle of separation of powers. […]

The more eye-catching of Apple’s claims were its accusations that Bromwich was already insisting on meeting every member of Apple’s executive team and board, including former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, Jr., and the company’s legendary product designer, Sir Jonathan Ive — neither of whom had anything to do with antitrust compliance issues, according to Apple. In addition, the papers noted, Bromwich was demanding that Apple pay a 15% “administrative fee” to his consulting firm on top of his $1,100 hourly rate and the $1,025 hourly fee of antitrust lawyer Bernard Nigro, who was appointed to assist him because of Bromwich’s lack of antitrust experience.

But legal fees are clearly not the crux of this dispute. […] It was, rather, Apple’s last claim — accusing Bromwich of simultaneously playing a quasi-prosecutorial role and yet answering directly to the judge — which may be the most significant. It signals that Apple is taking aim not just at Bromwich, but also at U.S. District Judge Denise Cote herself.

Get your popcorn ready.

Monday, 2 December 2013