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Saturday, February 5, 2000



Star-Bulletin closing after 117 years

Settlement hearing
nears in Star-Bulletin
shutdown lawsuit

The state's deputy attorney general
says there have been no offers

By Debra Barayuga
Star-Bulletin

Tapa

Attorneys for Honolulu's two daily newspapers and the state are expected to attend a settlement conference next week on the state's lawsuit blocking the shutdown of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin.

The conference next Saturday is included in a scheduling order for a trial on the antitrust suit, set for Sept. 19.

Deputy Attorney General Rodney Kimura declined to comment on the upcoming meeting before U.S. Magistrate Barry Kurren because the discussions will be confidential. But Kimura said the state has not received any settlement offers.

The parties have until Wednesday to file a confidential settlement statement.

The newspapers also have until Feb. 18 to file motions on whether the state's suit is moot.

At a Jan. 13 conference with Kurren, attorneys for Gannett, which owns the Honolulu Advertiser, said an agreement to end a joint operating agreement between the newspapers expired Dec. 23, so the state's suit is moot.

Jim Bickerton, attorney for Save Our Star-Bulletin, a citizens group whose separate suit against the newspapers was consolidated with the state's suit, said the group disagrees and plans on opposing any motion claiming the state's suit is moot.

"The simple fact that their first written agreement expired doesn't mean there isn't a broader agreement to end the JOA and close the Star-Bulletin," he said.

"We think there's a lot of evidence of a broader agreement, and as long as that issue remains, it needs to be resolved, so the case is not moot."

Bickerton, who plans to attend the settlement conference, said he is not aware of any settlement offers on either side.

Settlement conferences are standard in every civil case, and their purpose is to resolve cases without having to tie up the court's already busy calendar, he said.



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