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DOJ consultant targets Microsoft

The Justice Department is expanding the powers of a special antitrust consultant called in to investigate a possible case against Microsoft.

WASHINGTON--The Justice Department is in the process of expanding the powers of a special antitrust consultant called in to investigate a possible case against Microsoft, the agency said tonight.

David Boies--the high-powered New York attorney who successfully defended IBM against the Justice Department in the 1970s--has been a consultant with the agency since December. So far, his job has included applying his antitrust and litigation acumen to the task of helping to guide a broad investigation of Microsoft's business practices.

The push to make Boies a special government employee means he will gain expanded powers, said Joel Klein, the assistant attorney general in charge of the Justice Department's antitrust division.

"It does give him supervisory and other powers that [he] would not have as a simple consultant," Klein told CNET's NEWS.COM. "It does give him more legal authority to act on behalf of the government."

Klein said the move doesn't represent an escalation of the case. But the designation--which is still about three weeks from being official--indicates it is far from fizzling.

Among other things, Boies' new designation will allow him to represent the Justice Department in court and sign legal documents on the agency's behalf.

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