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Wednesday, February 17, 1999 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Jackson: Get Off Dead Horse

Seattle Times Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON - Upon returning from a lunch break yesterday in the Microsoft antitrust trial, U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson told a joke that he said perfectly fit the practice of law - although not necessarily addressing the case before him, which today is in its 57th day of trial.

"The following item," Jackson began, "which is altogether in apposite to this case, was called to my attention by a colleague of mine. The code of tribal wisdom says that when you discover you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.

"In law firms," the judge continued, "we often try other strategies with dead horses, including the following: buying a stronger whip; changing riders; saying things like, `This is the way we have always ridden this horse'; appointing a committee to study the horse; arranging to visit other firms to see how they ride dead horses; increasing the standards to ride dead horses; declaring that the horse is better, faster and cheaper dead; and finally, harnessing several dead horses together for increased speed."

In conclusion, Jackson turned to Department of Justice attorney David Boies and added, "That said, the witness is yours."

Boies turned to Microsoft Vice President Brad Chase and said, "I think we should move this along, Mr. Chase."

When laughter subsided, Chase, who was well into his second day of tangling with Boies, replied, "This is one of the times that I agree with you."

Copyright (c) 1999 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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