Originally published: September 21, 2011
Last updated: September 21, 2011 - 9:43pm
U.S. District Court Judge Ellen Huvelle set a mid-February trial date to hear the Justice Department’s arguments for blocking the $39 billion merger of AT&T and T-Mobile.
She also rejected rival Sprint Nextel’s request for access to Justice documents and expressed skepticism about the company’s request to join Justice’s suit. The decisions will benefit AT&T and T-Mobile, who had hoped for a trial earlier than Justice’s requested date of late March. And without Sprint in the process, chances of a faster trial and potential to reach a settlement outside of court are greater, experts say. Judge Huvelle said the trial would begin Feb. 13 and last four to six weeks. Living up to her reputation as a no-nonsense and efficient judge, Judge Huvelle took much of the hearing adding up how many days it would take for both sides to interview witnesses and cross examine them, and she suggested that much of the testimony come to her in writing instead of through longer oral arguments. She also made clear that she wanted to move forward as “expeditiously as possible,” with the wireless giants facing key milestones next spring that could affect their deal and their businesses.
There was no talk of settlement as Mark Hansen, an attorney for AT&T, told Judge Huvelle that the company wants to get to trial as quickly as possible.
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