Innocent until proven guilty? Not for Cupertino. Apple’s e-book antitrust trial starts on June 3rd, but the U.S. District Judge in charge of the case is already openly expressing her belief that Apple engaged in a conspiracy.
According to Reuters, U.S. District Judge Denise Cole recently opined:
I believe that the government will be able to show at trial direct evidence that Apple knowingly participated in and facilitated a conspiracy to raise prices of e-books, and that the circumstantial evidence in this case, including the terms of the agreements, will confirm that.
Judge Cole has already read much of the evidence, including correspondence between Apple’s executives and the e-book industry, culminating in the establishment of an agency pricing model with major American publishers, breaking Amazon’s lock on $9.99 e-books. So she’s probably drawing her opinion from that.
Even so, the trial hasn’t started yet, and there’s no jury, meaning Judge Cole herself will singly declare Apple guilty or innocent.
Apple’s lawyer is understandably tweaked.
“We strongly disagree with the court’s preliminary statements about the case today,” said Orin Snyder of the firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. “We look forward to presenting our evidence in open court and proving that Apple did not conspire to fix prices.”
Whether Apple is guilty or not, it seems like the Judge in the case would at least restrain herself from making statements on the matter before the trial starts, wouldn’t you think?