President Bushs nominee to head the Justice Departments antitrust division, Charles A. James, was part of the legal team representing National Processing Co. in the Visa/MasterCard antitrust case, according to court papers. National Processing was one of several processors that tried to intervene on behalf of the card associations, saying that the governments proposal to end duality would have an adverse affect on merchant-acquiring and processing.
Mr. James, a Washington partner in the Cleveland-based law firm Jones Day Reavis & Pogue, is awaiting confirmation to the post. If he is confirmed, he would be in a position to influence the departments handling of its antitrust case against the two card associations, which has been awaiting a ruling from presiding judge Barbara Jones since last fall.
Mr. James name, along with those of two colleagues from Jones Day, appears on at least three court documents filed on behalf of National Processing Co., the credit card processing company. National Processing is a subsidiary of National Processing Inc., a public company that is 87.2% owned by National City Corp.
Other companies that sought to intervene on behalf of the card companies were First Data Merchant Services, Paymentech, Wachovia Merchant Services, PNC Merchant Services Co., and Cardservice International Inc.
Judge Jones did not rule on any of the interventions, according to Melvin A. Schwarz, the Justice Departments chief litigator in the case, who has left the government and become a partner in the Washington antitrust group of Dechert, a U.K. law firm previously known as Dechert Price & Rhoads.
It could not be determined at press time whether Mr. James involvement in the case was significant enough to require him to recuse himself from related matters should he ultimately win confirmation.
Mr. James name appears on relevant documents, but they bear the signature of a Jones Day colleague. Among National Processings filings in the case were an affidavit from Mark D. Pyke, the companys executive vice president for merchant services, who discussed what the impact of the governments proposed remedies would be on his companys business.
Lloyd Constantine, the chief lawyer for the merchants who are suing Visa and MasterCard in a separate civil matter, said that Mr. Jones himself would have to decide whether his participation and his clients stake in the matter were significant enough to warrant recusal.
Mr. Constantine said he imagined that Mr. James would make a wise decision. Hes a very honest guy; hes a straight shooter.
Mr. Schwarz said he did not know what to say about Mr. James involvement in the Visa/MasterCard matter, and any possible conflict of interest in his new role.