Lawyers will eventually argue the law’s constitutionality in front of a jury. But on Tuesday, the lawyers met with the judge presiding over the case to hammer out scheduling matters as the pretrial process continues.
Lawyers on both sides of the high-stakes lawsuit challenging Rhode Island’s landmark 2011 state pension overhaul met with the judge behind closed doors Tuesday morning as the pretrial process continued.
John Tarantino, a lawyer representing the state, told WPRI.com the jury trial is still on track to begin April 20, as ordered by R.I. Superior Court Judge Sarah Taft-Carter last month.
Tarantino said Taft-Carter scheduled four pretrial hearings in the suit during Tuesday’s status conference: for Feb. 6, on motions by various municipalities to be removed as defendants; for Feb. 20, on motions to consolidate; for March 6, for advance rulings about the trial; and for March 27, on dispositive motions.
At Tuesday’s status conference, more than two dozen lawyers involved in the case spent about forty minutes meeting with Taft-Carter in a closed courtroom to work through scheduling matters. Taft-Carter made no rulings in the case on Tuesday. She previously said the process for discovery of evidence will end on March 15.
Taft-Carter had previously set a Sept. 15 trial date for the suit but scrapped it as the sides got tied up in pretrial matters.
It’s highly likely the outcome in Superior Court will be appealed to the R.I. Supreme Court no matter which side wins. However, state and union leaders say there is also growing momentum in favor of making another attempt to end the suit with an out-of-court settlement. Raimondo has said she is still open to settling but does not want to change the terms of the settlement agreement that failed last year.
The lawsuit was originally filed in June of 2012 by hundreds of retirees and union members who argue that the state’s reforms aren’t constitutional.
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