WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. federal judge hearing the government’s antitrust case against Alphabet’s Google said on Friday he was not convinced he had the power to sanction the company for overzealous use of secrecy attorney’s professionalism if this occurred prior to the filing of the Department of Justice complaint.
The department had asked Judge Amit Mehta in a court filing to sanction Google, saying the company’s “Communicate with Care” program, which required employees to add an attorney to many emails, was sometimes a ” game” to protect communications that weren’t really falling. under solicitor-client privilege. Google replied that it had done nothing wrong.
Mehta of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia said there were a “mind-blowing” 140,000 documents originally slated as attorney-client privilege, but 98,000 or so were quickly turned over to the government. But he also said he was “not sure if a federal court has the power” to sanction the practice since it occurred before the government filed its complaint.
John Schmidtlein, Google’s attorney in the case, said 21,000 of the emails were still at issue.
Justice Department attorney Kenneth Dintzer demanded that Google be disciplined for the practice and required to turn over the 21,000 emails. He argued that this practice cost the government valuable time to prepare its case.
The Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against Google in 2020, accusing it of violating antitrust law in running its search business. The trial was scheduled for September 2023.