Posted Jul. 27, 2015 at 11:15 PM
By Kate Bramson
Journal Staff Writer
PROVIDENCE, R.I. —The retired Rhode Island Supreme Court chief justice who has been working since May as mediator in the state’s 38 Studios lawsuit, Frank J. Williams, met behind closed doors Monday night for about 30 minutes with Governor Raimondo, the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation’s board of directors and lawyer Max Wistow, the state’s lead attorney in the case.
Raimondo, chairwoman of the Commerce board, remained behind closed doors with the board and Wistow for an hour and 40 minutes in total, and the board cast votes. When they reemerged in open session, Raimondo turned over the meeting to board member Bernard V. Buonanno III and left. In a brief interview after departing, Raimondo said:”No news. We talked about 38 Studios, and there’s no news.”
Back in the meeting, the board voted to seal minutes of the executive session and not disclose the nature of their votes. Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor did not say how many votes were taken and later declined comment on the discussions. The state’s Open Meetings laws allows such votes to be kept confidential so as not to jeopardize the state’s legal strategy.
Wistow had summoned Williams into the meeting about 30 minutes into the session.
When Williams was approved as mediator in May by Superior Court Judge Michael A. Silverstein, Williams said he hoped to find a quick resolution to the long-running legal fight sparked by the demise of the state-backed 38 Studios, former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling’s video game company. Asked about the progress of negotiations after he left the meeting, Williams replied, “It’s going. Mediation continues. … We’re moving forward is all I can tell you.”
He said he didn’t know if the board would make an announcement, as it was the first time he appeared before them. He declined comment on whether he anticipates a settlement soon.
“There is a misperception of what mediation is,” Williams said. “Mediation, by its very nature — until there is a settlement, in part or in whole — is a confidential negotiation between the parties.”
Williams said he recognizes the public and the media don’t like that, but he said there will one day be open discussion about 38 Studios and the matter will be aired in public, as was the state’s pension overhaul. Williams also mediated the legal fight over the 2011 pension overhaul.
“I ask just that the people and the media be patient while we go through this process,” Williams said. “The alternative, of course, is a long, drawn-out court trial that doesn’t benefit the parties and more importantly the Commerce Corporation or the public.”