Judge OK's Jury Trial, Sets Date For RI Pension Overhaul Case

Dec 2, 2014

A legal observer says he expects the legal dispute over a 2011 overhaul of the state pension system to be settled out of court.

Roger Williams University Law School dean Michael Yelnosky said he’s fairly optimistic about the outlook for a settlement. “For a couple of reasons: one, they came so very close before; there continue to be lots of good reasons to settle on both sides,” said Yelnosky.

If the state pension overhaul is settled in mediation it will have to go back to the General Assembly for approval.
Credit File / RIPR

Efforts to settle the pension dispute fell apart in April when one of six plaintiff groups rejected a proposed deal.

Yelnosky says he has two general views of why the state preferred a jury trial: "One would be they like their chances with a jury, that they think the arguments about the need for the state to make some sort of dramatic change will sell to a jury better than it might to a judge -- that a jury full of taxpayers might be more sensitive to those arguments. The other way of thinking about would be as between Judge [Sarah] Taft-Carter and a jury, what would be they're preference? And my guess is, based on the way Judge Taft-Carter has ruled to date, they would prefer to avoid giving Judge Taft-Carter complete control over the outcome of the case."

Taft-Carter on Tuesday granted the state’s request for a jury trial. She scheduled it to start on April 20th.

Do you have insight or expertise on this topic?  Please email us, we'd like to hear from you. news@ripr.org