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US DOJ argues against Apple motion to remove e-book antitrust monitor

In an opposition filing on Friday, the U.S. Department of Justice argues that Judge Denise Cote acted within her power when she assigned an external antitrust monitor to Apple, recommending the company's appeal have the monitor removed be denied.


Apple's closing slide in its e-book antitrust case. | Source: U.S. District Court

According to the filing, the DOJ argues Judge Cote's court did not overstep its bounds by assigning external compliance monitor Michael Bromwich to Apple after the company was found culpable in an e-book price fixing case last year. The document was first spotted by CNET.

From Friday's filing:
In any event, the district court did not exceed its authority in ordering an external monitor for Apple or abuse its discretion in declining to disqualify the selected monitor. Nor can Apple establish that it will be irreparably harmed by the monitorship. Finally, the public interest weighs firmly against any delay in the monitor's work.

Apple won a temporary reprieve on Tuesday when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ordered a halt to the ECM's oversight pending appeal.

The DOJ argues that Apple has not shown "irreparable harm" by the ECM's presence, a stipulation needed to remove Bromwich from his monitorship. Even if Apple were able to prove such conditions, the government says a replacement monitor is called for, not a complete removal.

The filing is the latest development in an ongoing kerfuffle between the Apple and its court-appointed antitrust compliance monitor Michael Bromwich. After finding Apple culpable in an e-book price fixing scheme, Judge Cote appointed Bromwich to ensure the company's current and future dealings are above board.

Apple and Bromwich have been butting heads since the monitorship began. The company has accused Bromwich of conducting an unconstitutional wide-roving inspection atypical of a monitorship.

In December, Apple filed a motion to suspend the "inquisitorial" nature of Bromwich's assignment. Aside from his actions, Bromwich is also charging exorbitant fees to the tune of over $70,000 per week, Apple said.

Judge Cote denied Apple's request to remove the ECM earlier in January, prompting Apple to take its case to appeals court.