Google prefers judge over jury for upcoming antitrust case in Virginia

Google is facing a major antitrust lawsuit, with the tech giant asking that a judge, rather than a jury, decide whether it violated U.S. antitrust laws by building a monopoly on the technology that powers online advertising. In order to strengthen its case, Google has written a multimillion-dollar check to the U.S. government, which it says renders moot the government’s best argument for demanding a jury trial.

The antitrust case is set to go before a jury in Alexandria, Virginia, in September, and it is one of two major lawsuits brought against Google by the Justice Department. The Virginia case focuses on advertising technology, while an ongoing case in the District of Columbia centers on Google’s dominance as a search engine.

Both sides in the D.C. case have presented evidence and made closing arguments, with a judge in that case ultimately deciding whether Google violated the law. Google is now seeking to have a judge decide the merits of the case in Virginia as well, arguing that it is unprecedented for a jury to decide a federal antitrust case brought by the government. The company contends that the case involves a complex and intricate technology ecosystem that may be outside the understanding of most prospective jurors.

Google’s lawyers argue that the constitutional right to a jury trial does not apply to a civil suit brought by the government, as it is meant to protect citizens against the federal government, not the other way around. However, the company acknowledges that the Justice Department has a stronger argument for demanding a jury trial when seeking monetary damages, as opposed to equitable relief.

In the Virginia case, the Department of Justice is seeking monetary damages on behalf of federal agencies that were allegedly harmed by Google’s monopolistic practices and overpaid for online ads. Google argues that the damages claim was added at the last minute solely to allow the government to seek a jury trial.

Google has reportedly paid the government triple the amount of the losses it can claim, in order to eliminate the need for a jury to decide the damages question. While Google maintains that the damages are not legitimate, the company has taken this step to avoid a jury trial.

Despite its stance that it is unprecedented for a jury to decide a government antitrust suit, Google has previously defended itself in front of a jury in antitrust cases brought by private companies. Last year, a jury ruled in favor of Epic Games in a case against Google over the Google Play store.

In conclusion, Google is making strategic legal maneuvers to navigate the antitrust lawsuits it faces, including seeking to have a judge, rather than a jury, decide on the allegations of anticompetitive behavior. The outcome of these cases could have significant implications for the tech giant and the broader landscape of online advertising and search engine competition.

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