The Fairness Hearing was commenced before US District Court Judge Michael Simon on Tuesday, February 18, 2014. For the benefit of the members of the public in attendance, Judge Simon began the hearing with an overview of the legal history of the lawsuit. He then explained the purpose of the hearing and his role in this proceeding which is to determine if the Agreement is fair, reasonable and adequate. He indicated that he had read all the comments and viewed the videos that had been submitted by citizens prior to the hearing. He reaffirmed that his only options were to accept or reject the Agreement as currently written.
He proceeded to hear opening comments of the parties as well as the testimony of the witnesses called by counsel. The Judge then took the public testimony of all who requested to be heard. Due to the large number of individuals who asked to testify, the hearing carried over until Wednesday morning to accommodate all interested persons.
At the conclusion of the testimony, Judge Simon announced that he would accept additional public comments until Wednesday, February 26, 2014. He intends to issue his own questions and comments regarding the testimony received at the hearing to all parties by Friday, February 28. Those will be posted on various websites for public review. The parties will then have until March 11, 2014 to file post-hearing briefings. Finally, he will hold a public hearing in his courtroom on March 24, 2014 at 9:00 am solely to hear oral argument by all counsel on whether to accept or reject the proposed Settlement Agreement and what his ongoing role in this matter should be. Thereafter, he will issue his ruling.