At the federal bankruptcy court in downtown San Francisco, Pacific Gas & Electric lawyers sparred with attorneys representing interests not party to the tentative PG&E?California Public Utilities Commission settlement. The issue was whether the bankruptcy judge should impose time limits on the examination of witnesses during the upcoming trial. Bankruptcy judge Dennis Montali declined to put time limits on the grilling of witnesses by the cities? and local agencies? attorneys, calling it unfair. At the October 8 pretrial conference, PG&E informed the judge that the vast majority of creditors approved the reconfigured organization plan set out in the June 19 proposed settlement. According to the utility?s preliminary results, 97 percent of the voting creditors approved the plan. Subsequently, municipal attorneys argued against time restrictions on lawyers, insisting that ?the clock measures time, not justice.? PG&E replied in kind that ?justice delayed was not justice done,? arguing that time limits were needed to keep the attorneys in line. PG&E attorney Martin Schenkar urged Montali to curb time on lawyers? cross-examinations of witnesses to ensure that the judge?s decision, which will confirm or reject PG&E?s reorganization plan, is released before Thanksgiving. Issuing a ruling before the CPUC?s December 18 vote on the proposed settlement will allow PG&E to ?contemplate rulings in both the proceedings.? Schenkar added that much of the testimony that will be presented during the upcoming trial in Montali?s courtroom 22 was given last month during the CPUC hearings on the pending PG&E-CPUC deal. Cameron Baker, attorney for the city and county of San Francisco, argued that the scope of last month?s CPUC hearing before administrative law judge Robert Barnett was much narrower, specifically limited to the pending settlement and whether the commission should accept, reject, or amend it. He added that Barnett did not put time restrictions on lawyers? examinations. The reorganization plan before Montali would create a $1.75 billion regulatory asset and remove CPUC authority over the utility?s generation assets. The proposed settlement before the CPUC would create a phantom $2.2 billion regulatory asset on which ratepayers would pay a hefty rate of return for nine years but would retain CPUC authority over PG&E?s assets. Montali said that regardless of what occurred at the CPUC, the arguments?redundant or not?must be made before him. The judge expects the trial to end by mid-December at the latest, and said he relied on attorneys? ?good-faith time estimates? in order to schedule the trial. The parties did agree to dispense with opening arguments given the extensive briefing to date. ?If after two and a half years I don?t know what the issues are, there is a problem here,? Montali quipped.