"I think it's evident to every spectator that, for whatever reasons, in many respects Mr. Gates has not been particularly responsive to his deposition interrogation," U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson said, in a closed-door session before trial started this morning.
"Everybody at your table has reflected skepticism as the testimony is presented," Jackson stated.
Jackson's comments, which were reflected in a court transcript, came in response to a motion by Microsoft that government attorneys stop playing Gates's videotaped deposition "in bits and pieces rather than continuously."
Jackson denied the motion, saying: "If anything, I think your problem is with your witness, not with the way in which his testimony is being presented."
In portions of the deposition played in the antitrust trial here, Gates repeatedly has answered questions with "I don't know" and "I don't recall." His statements are frequently contradicted by email he has sent and received, and he frequently has claimed no recollection of the messages.
At other points, Gates has claimed he doesn't know what his interrogators mean when they use terms such as "concerned," "ask" and "non-Microsoft browser."
In arguing for the motion, Microsoft attorney John Warden said "there is no legitimate purpose vis-a-vis the trial in playing this deposition in bits and pieces and it at least appears that it is being done in such a fashion ... for the purpose of an audience outside the courtroom and for the purpose of creating news stories day after day after day."
Warden added that the practice was "an abuse of the court's processes" and threatened to bring "the judicial process into disrepute."
But Jackson disagreed, calling the government's practice of showing Gates's testimony in segments "a perfectly proper way to present his deposition." Typically, antitrust prosecutors have shown portions of the deposition that relate to topics a witness in the case is set to discuss in testimony.