After Microsoft and Napster, Boies tackles Bush

The David that slew Microsoft - celebrated litigator David Boies - on Tuesday trained his legal slingshot on the presidential campaign of Republican George W. Bush.

Boies, who also represented Internet song-swap company Napster and computer giant IBM, met the media as the latest member of Democrat Al Gore's legal team as post-election vote challenges made their way through Florida's judicial system.

As the chief trial lawyer for the Justice Department's antitrust case against Microsoft Corp., which is now on appeal, Boies got a reputation as a smooth strategist and that trait was on display Tuesday in Tallahassee, Florida.

After a complicated ruling by a Florida circuit court judge that upheld a deadline for vote-counting from the Nov. 7 presidential elections but also allowed late-arriving results to be included, Boies waded into the fray.

Introduced by former Secretary of State Warren Christopher, who has headed up a observer team for Vice President Gore, Boies took aim at Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris, a Republican and a friend of Bush's brother, Jeb, the Florida governor.

Under questioning from reporters, Boies said the ruling said Harris had acted arbitrarily and abdicated her responsibility by saying she should consider returns filed after the deadline, and that when a final count is made, including the new returns, Harris cannot arbitrarily refuse to accept them.

"WE MAY BE BACK IN COURT"

"We would all hope that the secretary of state, having received this guidance from the court, would do the right thing," Boies said at a news conference.

But if she does not, Boies had a ready strategy.

"Now, if the secretary of state arbitrarily refuses to accept the amended returns based on the recount, and violates what this court has ruled is her duty, which is to accept those results unless she has a good reason not to, then we may be back in court," Boies said.

Boies has done battle with Microsoft, drug companies and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) - and he has triumphed in all three cases.

In the Microsoft matter, a federal judge ruled in November 1999 that the computer software giant was a monopoly, agreeing almost entirely with the Justice Department and Boies' line of argument.

That same week, Boies got seven of the world's largest drug companies to agree to pay $1.7 billion to settle an antitrust class action charging them with a worldwide conspiracy to fix vitamin prices.

More recently, Boies represented Napster in litigation with RIAA. In October, a federal appeals court in October decided to allow the song-swapping company to continue to operate, pending further deliberations.

"You want to have a consistent, coherent set of themes that you establish and stick to, and that's particularly important the more complicated the case is," Boies said in remarks in National Law Journal, which named him Lawyer of the Year in 1999.

"The more complicated it is, the more important it is to define what your simple truths are," Boies said.

BASEBALL, AUCTION HOUSES AND GARRY SHANDLINGA graduate of Yale Law School, Boies worked for 30 years at the prestigious New York firm of Cravath, Swaine & Moore, and while there represented IBM against the government in a 13-year antitrust case that was dismissed in 1982.

In 1997, Boies left Cravath, walking away from a more-than $2 million a year partnership. He said he was leaving the firm, where he was one of the biggest rainmakers, because he wanted to represent clients whose interests were at odds with some of the law firm's major clients.

He went on to represent the New York Yankees in an antitrust suit against Major League Baseball and the Justice Department in the Microsoft case.

Boies was also hired by comedian Garry Shandling to bring a $100 million suit against his former manager, Brad Grey. The case ended in a settlement.

Boies' firm - Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP - is also the lead counsel in the class action case brought on behalf of some 100,000 buyers and sellers against Sotheby's and Christies auction houses. The parties have reached a proposed $512 million settlement. The plaintiffs allege they were victims of a scheme to fix commissions.

He does not always win. In August, a Florida jury returned an $18.5 million verdict against his client Florida Power & Light Co. in a breach-of-contract case.

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