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US judge criticized for lack of transparency in Google antitrust case following involvement in Jan. 6 trials

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In a surprising turn of events, US District Judge Amit Mehta, who presided over the landmark antitrust case against Google, is facing criticism for allowing sensitive testimony to be sealed off from the public. This is in stark contrast to his open-courtroom policy during the trials related to the January 6 Capitol riots. The judge granted Google and other tech giants, including Apple and Microsoft, the ability to lock out the public from hearing sensitive testimony during the initial weeks of the trial. Critics argue that this decision contradicts the judge’s previous approach of allowing embarrassing details about defendants’ personal lives to be aired in court.

Judge Mehta, who was appointed by former President Barack Obama in 2014, has been solely responsible for determining if Google has violated antitrust laws. Without a jury, the judge’s decision holds significant weight. However, his recent decision to seal off evidence and testimony has raised eyebrows among conservatives, who believe that the public should have access to information about Google and its relationship with other companies. These critics argue that the judge’s previous openness in court during the Capitol riot trials contrasts with his current approach to the Google case.

Critics have also raised questions about Judge Mehta’s willingness to allow Google’s lawyers to dictate when the courtroom should be closed to the media and the public. They argue that it should be the judge’s prerogative to decide whether or not to seal off certain documents or testimony. Some have accused the judge of not taking a proactive stance and relying on the plaintiffs to determine if closed sessions are objectionable. Others suggest that the push for secrecy in the case is coming from Apple, Microsoft, and DuckDuckGo, who are not being sued by the government and therefore believe their information should remain private. The Justice Department has accused Google of abusing its monopoly in search and search advertising.

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