Justice Department's effort to halt AT&T-Time Warner merger goes to trial as both sides spar over evidence

The high-stakes antitrust showdown over AT&T's planned $85 billion purchase of Time Warner began in a Washington courtroom as both sides sparred over some key issues that signaled their legal strategies. Opening arguments aren't scheduled until March 21 in a trial U.S. District Judge Richard DeLeon said could last six to eight weeks — about twice as long as originally estimated when the Justice Department sued last fall to halt the deal.

Each side will have 30 witnesses and DeLeon told attorneys for the federal government and AT&T that he'd allow extra witnesses if necessary because the case is "too important" to try to stick to a rigid timetable. AT&T's lead attorney, Daniel Petrocelli, took aim at thousands of pages of emails from AT&T employees that the Justice Department wants to submit as evidence of potential competitive harms of the deal. Petrocelli argued that the government was asserting too broad a view of what is considered a business record. But Justice Department attorney Eric D. Welsh said many of the emails and other documents from AT&T employees are relevant to the case. He said they include "some very startling statements."


Justice Department's effort to halt AT&T-Time Warner merger goes to trial as both sides spar over evidence