A secret federal hearing will determine whether Wolverine Worldwide has to extend municipal water to residents whose groundwater was contaminated by the company's tannery in West Michigan.
A judge ruled the public won't be allowed in the courtroom for the "summary jury trial" next month.
The judicial proceeding is rarely used. The jury delivers a non-binding verdict that's used in settlement talks so it's sometimes referred to as a mock trial.
The judge provided no reason for the decision to MLive, which reported on the secret meeting.
That surprised attorneys for Plainfield Township. The township is a co-plaintiff in the state of Michigan's case against Wolverine.