Oracle America Inc. and the state of Oregon don’t like each other much.
That dislike is evident in many aspects of the ongoing legal dispute about who’s to blame for the $300 million failure of Cover Oregon, the online health insurance exchange Oracle built for the state.
On Monday, Marion County Court Judge Courtland Geyer rejected what is normally a routine request from Oracle—that one of its out-of-state lawyers be allowed to appear on behalf of the computer company.
When a lawyer who is not a member of the Oregon bar wants to represent a client in an Oregon court, he or she files a pro hac vice application. As long as the lawyer is a member in good standing of another state’s bar, the request is typically granted.
But on Sept. 28, Judge Geyer rejected a request for a Washington, D.C.-based Oracle lawyer named Matthew Haws to appear in the case in which the state is suing Oracle over Cover Oregon.
Guyer noted that the courtroom has a capacity of 56. The state plans to have seven lawyers, which is a modest contingent compared to Oracle’s legal team of four Oregon lawyers and 13 out-of-staters.
“The Oracle defendants representation of the maximum occupant load is already disproportionate,” Geyer wrote in a Sept. 28 order. “There will be no additional Pro Hac Vice admissions on behalf of the Oracle Defendants.”
That’s a minor procedural issue and a sidebar to the overarching question of who knew what and when about the failed exchange.
Oracle continues to press for information and specifically emails that former Gov. John Kitzhaber wrote and received using a private email account.
In a Sept. 29 letter, Oracle’s general counsel, Dorian Daley, bashed Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum for the state’s failure to produce copies of those Kitzhaber emails contained in an account referred to as “hundredth meridian.” (Rosenblum’s agency, the Oregon Department of Justice, is serving as the counsel for Gov. Kate Brown, who is the custodian of the disputed emails.)
Oracle requested the emails five months ago, contending that since the emails were archived on a state-owned server and concerned public business they are public records and must be produced. The company’s position is consistent with Oregon law, but Kitzhaber has argued that the emails were accidentally placed on a state server and has threatened to sue the state if the emails are given to Oracle.
In her letter, Daley says the threat of a lawsuit should not trump public records law.
“Because Gov. Brown is taking the position that she cannot produce the Hundredth Meridian emails because of former Governor Kitzhaber’s threat of litigation and because Governor Brown has withheld many of the Governor Kitzhaber emails for various exemptions, Oracle intends to file suit against Governor Brown and former Governor Kitzhaber for violations of the public records law within seven days from today’s date,” Daley writes.
Today, Rosenblum responded to to the Oracle lawyer, writing “your threat to file yet another lawsuit is frivolous and unnecessary.”
Rosenblum denied the state is dragging its feet or failing to comply with the public records law.
“The former governor takes the position that the state is not permitted to review the “Hundredth Meridian” email account,” she wrote. “The state is well within its rights to proceed cautiously while providing Oracle with records as it can.”