This spring, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced an agreement with Partners HealthCare that she felt addressed antitrust concerns over the company’s acquisition of South Shore Hospital and Hallmark Health System, At the time, she hoped that the deal would close quickly, with little fanfare. But it’s now fall, and not only is the deal now mired in controversy, its future is also in doubt, with no resolution in sight.

As Judge Janet Sanders took the bench in Suffolk Superior Court yesterday afternoon, it quickly became clear that today’s proceeding would not end in a final ruling.

"I think it’s a little bit ambitious now that I’ve looked over some of the submissions," Sanders said.

The submissions that Sanders refers to are the 163 comments she received during a court-ordered public comment period — comments both for and against the deal.

"I was quite impressed with the submissions in opposition," she said. "And I say that because several of these submissions were from organizations — entities that had no financial or other steak in the outcome."

Sanders said she needed more time to parse the comments — and a revised version of the agreement that Coakley submitted last week, but she did express her preliminary reaction.

"I do have some very substantial concerns about the deal," she said.

To aid her in the process, Sanders is once again opening the floor to the public. Interested parties now have 21 days to submit comments on the revised deal, which lawyers for the attorney general say address concerns that the deal would drive health care costs up in the state.

And the judge went one step further, inviting lawyers for an alliance of area hospitals opposed to Partners’ expansion to participate in the next hearing.

"I’ll have to talk to my clients and see what they want to do," said Andrea Murino, a lawyer representing the coalition.

At least one of those clients, David Spackman, from Lahey Health, indicated they definitely want a seat at the table.

While the next hearing is scheduled for November 10, Bruce Sokler, a lawyer representing Partners, says he doesn’t expect it to be the last.

"I wouldn’t expect a ruling on November 10 but hopefully that will be the near end point of the process," Sokler said.

That process that could now conceivably stretch into next year —and the next attorney general’s first term.