AG Kilmartin obtains court order to block new 38 Studios disclosure law

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – A judge has granted Attorney General Peter Kilmartin a court order to temporarily block the release of documents from the 38 Studios investigation even after the governor signs into law a pending bill mandating their disclosure.

State Rep. Charlene Lima, D-Cranston, successfully pushed legislation through the General Assembly this week requiring documents from the investigation of the failed video-game company to be released even if they were presented to a grand jury, and Gov. Gina Raimondo has pledged to sign it when it reaches her desk.

But Kilmartin remains strongly opposed to the documents’ release, citing the importance of grand-jury secrecy. He successfully petitioned Superior Court Justice Robert Krause on Friday to issue a temporary restraining order, or TRO, blocking the move.

Kilmartin spokesman Amy Kempe confirmed the move Friday afternoon after Eyewitness News obtained the court documents. “The purpose of the TRO is to allow the state to seek a legal determination as to what is required and what is prohibited from being released,” she said Friday.

Among the specific documents Kilmartin asked to keep sealed: correspondence between his office and R.I. State Police detectives, as well as with lawyers for potential witnesses in the case. His lawyers also singled out “grand jury material deemed confidential,” and said the General Assembly cannot override Superior Court rules.

“More importantly, as a matter of constitutional separation of powers, the General Assembly cannot encroach upon the core functions of a coordinate branch of government,” they wrote.

Lima quickly responded on Twitter after GoLocalProv posted a story on the order Saturday morning:

In making his case, Kilmartin also noted a recent federal ruling against President Trump’s administration that cited the president’s Twitter feed as an official statement of policy, and applied the same standard to Raimondo’s tweet earlier this week promising to sign Lima’s 38 Studios bill.

Ted Nesi (tnesi@wpri.com) covers politics and the economy for WPRI.com. He writes Nesi’s Notes on Saturdays and hosts Executive Suite. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook