Superior Court Judge Michael Silverstein took under advisement Friday morning a request to release 4000-plus pages of depositions in the state's lawsuit over failed video game company 38 Studios.
Silverstein heard about 90 minutes of competing arguments that releasing the depositions will either serve the public interest or compromise the right to fair trial of at least some of the defendants in the case. It's not clear when he'll decide the request to release the depositions, which was made by the Providence Journal and the House Oversight Committee.
The new chairwoman of the House Oversight, Representative Karen MacBeth (D-Cumberland), attended the hearing with Representative Spencer Dickinson (D-South Kingstown) and the committee's lawyer, Charles Knowles. Speaking after the hearing, MacBeth told reporters the committee is trying to bring clarity to the question of precisely how 38 Studios was lured to Rhode Island before going bankrupt in 2012.
“That is all we want, is a fair public hearing," MacBeth says. "We want the answers to this, to make our state stronger, to close any loopholes that may still exist to ensure that this doesn’t happen again. That’s all we’re looking for. We’re looking for the answers to that.”
Former EDC director Keith Stokes and a number of other people have been deposed by lawyers as part of an effort by the state to cut taxpayers' losses from the meltdown of 38 Studios. A deposition of state Revenue director Rosemary Booth Gallogly is continuing after starting last week, according to information presented at the hearing.
Lawyer William Dolan, who represents a former Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation lawyer, argued that releasing depositions before all the depositions in the case are completed could be prejudicial. He says the defendants very much want to have an opportunity to present their case in court. Dolan also cited what he called a "public frenzy" over the reporting of details of the 38 Studios case, much of it, he says, that has been "one-sided."
Knowles, the lawyer for House Oversight, pointed to how 38 Studios has been a "financial debacle," leaving Rhode Island taxpayers on the hook for close to $90 million, and he said getting to the root of how that happened is in the public interest.
Max Wistow, who was hired by the state to pursue a lawsuit over the demise of 38 Studios, noted how the company's owner, Curt Schilling, himself issued a tweet earlier this year suggesting there's a conspiracy of silence in the case (even though Schilling, through his legal representation, has sided with keeping the depositions confidential.) Wistow says the depositions may conclude by mid-June.