As part of the terms in the ongoing proceedings against Apple in an ebook price fixing anti-trust lawsuit filed by the Department of Justice, Judge Denise Cote ordered an external monitor to ensure that Apple did not enter into any further collusion that would fall under the scope of the investigation. The appointment of Michael Bromwich as the person charged with overseeing Apple business from the outside didn’t sit too well with the company, who is still in the process of appealing the judge’s decisions.
On January 13th, a hearing was held in which Apple moved to toss out the provision requiring the monitor, and on Monday last week, Cote denied this move as well. After reports that Apple was not playing nicely with Bromwich and stalling on providing documents to the monitor, Cote ruled on February 10 to appoint a magistrate to oversee the working relationship Apple has with Bromwich. Attorneys for the government in this case have even accused Apple of making up allegations of wrongdoing and calling into question the monitor’s behavior, possibly as an excuse to have Bromwich’s role removed.
Problems arose between Apple and Bromwich almost immediately. The company is fighting what it considers to be an outrageously high salary for the outside monitor, while Bromwich has raised complaints that he is typically denied access to executives within the company. Apple has gone so far as to ask Cote specifically to remove Bromwich for what they feel is an unjustified attitude against the company.
The magistrate who will serve as a go-between for Apple and Bromwich is Judge Michael Dolinger, who will largely serve as a mediator who helps ensure that any future concerns from either party actually have merit before making their way back into Cote’s courtroom. He is also charged with holding meeting between the parties on a regular basis to ensure compliance, and helping follow through with Cote’s orders that Apple turn over documents to Bromwich, which it has declined to do.
One positive outcome for Apple has been the clarification of the monitor’s scope of authority. While the appeals court in this instance didn’t strike or overrule Cote’s decision, it did make sure that all parties involved knew exactly what Bromwich’s role is in his duties.