On Thursday, April 11, 2024, Reuters reported that the United States Justice Department’s antitrust lawsuit against Apple was given to a new judge.

The suit, which accuses Apple of unlawfully monopolizing the smartphone market through restrictions on app developers, had previously been assigned to Judge Michael Farbiarz of New Jersey. However, Judge Farbiarz recused himself from the high-profile case, citing ethical reasons. While he did not disclose the specific rationale, judicial ethics rules require recusal if a judge or their family has a close personal or financial connection to the dispute.

With Judge Farbiarz stepping aside, the case was reassigned to Judge Julien Neals, who also sits on the New Jersey federal court. Appointed by President Joe Biden in 2021, Judge Neals brings experience as a lawyer for county government in New Jersey.

The change in judge came sua sponte, or without a request from either party in the suit. Both the Justice Department and Apple declined to offer further comment on the development when contacted by Reuters.

The U.S. government filed the case against Apple in March, joined by 15 states. It accuses the iPhone maker of stifling competition and forcing consumers to pay higher prices through restrictive policies towards app developers on its App Store. Apple has rejected the allegations, maintaining that its practices promote innovation and choice for customers.

The suit has also spurred related private antitrust lawsuits that were also reassigned to Judge Neals. With a new judge now presiding, observers will be watching closely as the high-stakes case moves forward in the coming months.



Source: Reuters