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Thomas Penfield Jackson, 76, judge ordered Microsoft split into 2 companies

FILE - This Aug. 9 1999 file phoshows U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jacksis shown during an American Bar Associatipanel

FILE - This Aug. 9, 1999 file photo shows U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson is shown during an American Bar Association panel discussion in Atlanta. Jackson, who as a federal judge in Washington presided over a Microsoft antitrust case and declared the software company a monopoly, has died. The death was confirmed Sunday, June 16, 2013 by Jackson's wife, Patricia. She says her husband died of cancer at the couple's home in Compton, Md. He was 76. (AP Photo/Ric Feld, file)

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Updated: July 18, 2013 6:41AM

WASHINGTON — Thomas Penfield Jackson, who as a federal judge in Washington presided over a Microsoft antitrust case and the drug possession trial of former Mayor Marion Barry, has died.

Mr. Jackson died at his home in Compton, Maryland, his wife Patricia said Sunday. He was 76 and had cancer.

Mr. Jackson, who retired from the bench in 2004, handled a variety of cases in more than two decades as a judge. He sent Barry to prison for cocaine possession, presided over the perjury trial of former Reagan White House aide Michael Deaver, and ordered then-Sen. Bob Packwood to turn over his diaries to a committee investigating sexual harassment charges.

In 2000, ruling in a historic antitrust lawsuit brought by the government against Microsoft, Mr. Jackson ordered the software giant to be split in two after concluding the company had stifled competition and used illegal methods to protect its monopoly in computer operating systems. The decision rocked the software industry, and in interviews with the news media that were published after the ruling, Mr. Jackson was quoted as comparing Microsoft founder Bill Gates to Napoleon and likening the company to a drug-dealing street gang.

“I think he has a Napoleonic concept of himself and his company, an arrogance that derives from power and unalloyed success, with no leavening hard experience, no reverses,” Mr. Jackson said in one interview.

An appeals court the following year unanimously reversed the breakup order — though it did agree that Microsoft had acted as an illegal software monopoly — saying Mr. Jackson had engaged in “serious judicial misconduct” with his derogatory out-of-court comments about the company. The court appointed a different judge to determine a new punishment. The company later negotiated a settlement.

Another high-profile case involved a North Carolina tobacco farmer who in 2003 drove his tractor into a pond on the National Mall and told police he was carrying “organophosphate bombs.” Mr. Jackson initially sentenced Dwight Watson to six years in prison, saying the city had regarded him as a “one-man weapon of mass destruction,” but later sharply reduced the punishment following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

Mr. Jackson also presided over the 1990 drug trial of Marion Barry, the Washington, D.C., mayor caught in an FBI sting with smoking crack-cocaine in a hotel room. Barry unsuccessfully appealed his six-month sentence, arguing Mr. Jackson showed bias when he told a Harvard University audience after the trial that he was convinced Barry was guilty of perjury. The appeals court rejected those arguments.


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