Superior Court Judge Michael Silverstein ruled Tuesday that Wells Fargo, one of the defendants being sued by the state over the collapse of 38 Studios, did not prove its case to keep confidential some of the information in documents related to the lawsuit.
The decision marks just the opening round in the debate over document confidentiality since Silverstein has slated another hearing, for 9:30 am Friday, to consider what is likely to be a wider array of confidentiality requests.
In related news, Superior Court Clerk Henry S. Kinch Jr. said the electronic release of 38 Studios documents is most likely to happen some time next week, unless court officials receive some documents from lawyers earlier than expected.
Robert Duffy, a lawyer for Wells Fargo, argued in court that the company deserved to keep confidential 215 words in court documents, names that he called client information "totally unrelated to this case."
But a lawyer for the state, Stephen P. Sheehan, responded by saying much of the information in question is already public on government databases concerning financial data, and that the public deserves access to its because of the strong interest in learning more about 38 Studios. "The public wants to know every fact, and it is entitled to that," Sheehan said.
At one point, Duffy accused Sheehan of making false statements and veering close to slander. That brought a rebuke from Judge Silverstein, who faulted lawyers on both sides for spending more time on attacking each other than on the essence of the case. "Stop it," Silverstein said.
A second motion to keep some of the information in 38 Studios documents confidential was filed late Monday by Electronic Arts. That motion will be considered during a hearing at 9:30 a.m. Friday.
Silverstein slated the Tuesday hearing to consider "any party or non-party that seeks to maintain the designation of 'Confidential Materials' or 'Attorneys Eyes Only Materials' on documents filed with the clerk's office, deposition testimony in the case, or exhibits to the deposition transcripts."
Friday's hearing will cover whether to keep confidential documents produced in discovery other than those considered Tuesday.
Taxpayers were left on the hook for more than $100 million when 38 Studios went bankrupt in 2012.