Page turn

'The issues have shifted' says the judge in the Apple e-book trial

June 19, 2013: 1:52 PM ET

She waited until the penultimate day of a three-week trial to share her feelings.

Judge Cote.

Judge Cote

FORTUNE -- U.S. District Judge Denise Cote, who played her cards close to the chest throughout the proceedings of the Department of Justice's antitrust case against Apple (AAPL), opened up a bit on Wednesday.

It started with the declaration of her feelings for her iPad, and ended with something that could be more material to the outcome of the case.

The bit about the iPad came shortly before lunch, with 50 minutes left on the DOJ's 29-hour clock and less than half that on Apple's.

Lisa Rubin, representing Apple, was trying to counter the assertion the government had made in cross-examination that there was nothing "innovative" about the page-turning animation Steve Jobs demonstrated at the launch of the iPad in January 2010.

After all, the DOJ's Larry Buterman had said -- trotting out the original press releases -- Penguin included something like it in an iPhone app nearly a year before, and Amazon had it in the Kindle app for iPad that it released in April 2010.

Rubin, who looked to be about seven months pregnant, carried a pair of iPads to the witness chair and asked Robert McDonald, the head of Apple's U.S. iBookstore, to show the court how the page curl feature worked.

McDonald had hardly started his demo when Judge Cote interrupted him.

"I have an iPad," she said. "I love my iPad. I have seen this feature."

Of more significance was the statement she made after lunch, when the defense had rested and she declared the case closed.

"It's been a privilege to be part of this trial," she began, thanking both sides for their courtesy and professionalism.

Then, perhaps thinking of the remarks she made before the trial began -- when she said she believed the government would be able to show by direct evidence that Apple "knowingly participated in and facilitated a conspiracy to raise prices of e-books" -- she went beyond the usual end-of-a-long-trial remarks.

She had worked hard before the trial began, she said, poring over all the pre-trial documents. "I thought I had prepared so well. I learned a lot. But you have helped me understand so much more through the evidence."

"I look forward to your summations," she continued. "It seems to me the issues have somewhat shifted during the course of the trial. Things change. People have to stay nimble. I'm looking forward to understanding where we are now."

If either side knew what she meant by those remarks, they kept it to themselves.

Summations begin Thursday at 9:30 a.m. EST. Each side will have two and a half hours to make their closing arguments.

UPDATE from the court's PR officer: "The judge will not rule from the bench tomorrow, and there's no possible way to predict how long it will take for her to render a decision in the case. It depends on the complexity of the legal issues, other matters pending before the judge, etc. A best guesstimate/rule of thumb is that it takes 2 months to get a decision after a bench trial, but that is a GUESS based on the AVERAGE time it takes most judges to rule -- Judge Cote may be faster or slower than other judges."

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