Updated at 4:10 p.m. Retired U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson, who died over the weekend, was known for pushing boundaries, on and off the bench. As a judge in the District of Columbia's federal trial court, he famously ordered the breakup of Microsoft Corp., for antitrust violations. A year later, a federal appeals court vacated his order and removed him for public comments he made about the case. As a litigator at Washington's Jackson & Campbell for nearly 20 years before joining the bench, he had a reputation as a fierce trial lawyer who landed big wins in medical malpractice cases. “Judge Jackson’s public persona was that of a larger than life figure who presided over some of the most complex and difficult cases in the court’s history," U.S. District Chief Judge Royce Lamberth said in a statement today. "With his white hair and stage-quality deep voice, he was once described as being sent from central casting for the part. But to those of us who knew him well, he was a genuine and highly respected friend who day in and day out was hard working, intellectually honest and scrupulously fair in every decision he made." Jackson died of complications from cancer on June 15. He was 76.
He was the guest speaker at My law school (George Mason) Annual; Antitrust Symposium many years ago. He had just come off the Microsoft Trial and was getting much flack for it from some quarters. He opened his remarks by telling a joke:
A trial judge, an appellate judge, and a law professor go duck hunting with the object being to see who was the first to catch a duck. A flock flew over them. The law professor consulted all the learned treatises and law review articles before deciding the flock were of ducks. By then, they were gone. Another flock appeared. The appelllate judge consulted the precedents from various courts, and by the time he decided they were ducks, they had gone too. Finally, another flock flew over. The trial judge shot at them, and said 'I hope they were ducks'.