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Seattle Times reporters Percy Allen, Jim Brunner and Danny O'Neil are filing updates from the courthouse throughout the day.

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June 26, 2008 2:12 PM

Judge questions Gorton's roles with city and investment group

Posted by Danny O'Neil

The city's lead lawyer Paul Lawrence concluded his closing argument,and Judge Marsha Pechman asked about former U.S. Senator Slade Gorton's role working for the K&L Gates law firm, which represented the city and also was involved with an effort to preserve professional basketball in the area. Those twin roles were spelled in the letter in which the city retained K&L Gates.

Pechman brought up the fact that Gorton attended a meeting with the NBA where Clay Bennett was present to discuss the viability of a remodeled KeyArena. The parties were required to sign an agreement not to discuss the contents of that meeting.

Pechman referenced the fact that the next day Gorton sent an e-mail to members of Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer's investment group (which wanted to put up money to renovate KeyArena and buy the team) about what was discussed.

"I can not explain Mr. Gorton's actions," Lawrence said.

"But that's the city's action because that's Mr. Gorton," Pechman said, and Gorton signed the non-disclosure agreement while in the meeting to represent the city.

Lawrence said there was no evidence that the city directed Gorton to send that e-mail and also noted that the e-mail was not sent to anyone with city.

"There is no evidence that links Mr. Gorton's action with the city," Lawrence said.

Pechman then asked about the possibility of severing K&L Gates representation with the city in this matter, after the case. Lawrence said that is something that's entirely within the judge's discretion.

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Sonics attorneys focus on city's "poisoned well" plan
Bennett says Sonics could lose $60 million if forced to stay in Seattle 2 more years
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Documents

2007 "Poisoned Well" document (PDF)
Ward: "Are we doomed to have another lameduck season in Seattle?" (PDF)
Bennett's e-mail to Stern: "You are just one of my favorite people on earth" (PDF)
Clay Bennett and Sonics' court filing (PDF)

Multimedia

Gallery | Seattle SuperSonics: Lasting memories
Gallery | Bittersweet night for Sonics fans
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Other links

Trial coverage from www.newok.com
ESPN.com | Hope (still) springs in Seattle