Apple Judge Explains Denial of Bid to Delay Monitor

Apple Inc. failed to show that it was in the public interest to delay a court ruling appointing a monitor overseeing its sale of electronic books, a judge said in explaining a ruling announced earlier this week.

Apple had asked U.S. District Judge Denise Cote in Manhattan to stop a court-appointed monitor in an electronic-books price-fixing case from interviewing officials including Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook. Cote said on Jan. 13 that she would deny Apple’s request in a forthcoming written decision, which she issued today.

“While Apple would prefer to have no monitor, it has failed to show that it is in the public interest to stop his work,” Cote wrote. “If anything, Apple’s reaction to the existence of a monitorship underscores the wisdom of its imposition.”

Cote in October appointed Michael Bromwich, a former U.S. Justice Department inspector general, to oversee Apple’s compliance with the terms of her ruling in an electronic-books price-fixing case brought by the U.S. government. She previously said that Apple played a central role in the scheme and broke antitrust laws in its contracts with five of the six biggest book publishers.

Apple asked that Bromwich be replaced while it appeals the judgment, arguing that he inappropriately sought interviews with Cook and board member Al Gore, the former U.S. vice president. His hourly rate of $1,100 per hour was too expensive, Apple said.

‘Intrusive Process’

Bromwich’s interviews with company executives would be a “time-consuming and intrusive process” that interferes with company business, Apple said in court papers.

Cote called the “deterioration” of the company’s relationship with Bromwich “unfortunate and disappointing” in her opinion. Still, she said, Bromwich’s role is essential, and he will be permitted to interview any Apple employee upon reasonable notice to the Cupertino, California-based company.

“Hopefully, that relationship can be ‘reset’ and placed on a productive course,” Cote wrote. “But it is strongly in the public’s interest for the monitor to remain in place.”

Cote said her order won’t take effect until Jan. 21 to allow Apple time to appeal.

Tom Neumayr, a spokesman for Apple, didn’t immediately return an e-mail sent before regular business hours seeking comment on the decision.

The case is U.S. v. Apple Inc., 12-cv-02826, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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