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Plaintiffs Find Possible Witness in Apple Antitrust Case

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It wasn't pretty, but the plaintiffs may have an actual witness in the $1 billion class-action suit against Apple.

Federal Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, along with both Apple and the plaintiffs appeared to agree on one witness Tuesday afternoon: Barbara Bennett. She's a former Boston-based technology consultant, who came to the plaintiffs rescue, after flying across the country overnight.

Bennett said she bought a "red" iPod during the period covered by the suit, and seemed to have command of some of the issues in the case. She also clearly volunteered at the last minute to help the plaintiff's case. Apple's lawyers suggested she could stand to gain, if the plaintiffs won the case.

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Gonzalez Rogers made it clear all day that she was not pleased with the performance of the plaintiffs' lawyers and said they acted "completely contrary to the court's orders." At one point the judge said "the court will try to minimize prejudice" in this case.

The plaintiffs proposed five potential new witnesses to testify before the court Tuesday and in the coming days, but Apple strongly opposed.

Apple's lead lawyer, William Isaacson, asked the judge to throw out three new potential witnesses, whose names Apple's legal team was given only minutes before the opening of the trial's business.

Ultimately, Isaacson won in that those three potential witnesses were thrown out by the judge, and a fourth, as well.

Isaacson said Apple's legal team only found out that Barbara Bennett at 6:45 p.m. on Monday.

At one point, Gonzalez Rogers threatened to "put the trial on hold for two days." Isaacson strongly protested that possibility, and emphasized the trial is working against the holiday clock and the jury's time.

The plaintiffs are suing Apple on behalf of close to 8 million consumers, who bought iPods between 2006 and 2009.

Bennett said she stepped forward after reading news stories in Ars Technica about the trial, but did not detail how she was harmed by any alleged anti-competitive behavior by Apple.

Toward the end of the trial on Tuesday, Gonzalez Rogers impatience and frustration with the plaintiffs was palpable. At one point the judge said "given the plaintiffs own problems."

Apple is keen to move the trial forward. The drama continues Wednesday morning in Oakland, California.

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