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Gambler scores partial victory before Tax Court

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The Indiana Tax Court Thursday granted an alleged professional gambler’s motion to compel the Department of State Revenue to comply with nearly all of his discovery requests in his quest to deduct certain business expenses.

The department audited Nick Popovich in 2007 for the 2002 through 2004 tax years, explaining that because he was not a professional gambler, he wasn’t entitled to deduct gambling losses as business expenses and other certain business expense deductions.

In his appeal to the Tax Court, Nick Popovich v. Indiana Department of State Revenue, 49T10-1010-TA-53, Popovich served the department with discovery requests. At issue are 53 of his discovery requests that the department sought to protect from disclosure through a protective order. The DOR claimed the information was confidential under I.C. 6-8.1-7-1 or protected by the work-product, attorney-client and deliberative process privileges.

The department argued that Popovich’s requests fail to address the sole issue in this case – whether Popovich was a professional gambler. Popovich, however, claimed that the information and documents he seeks are discoverable because all of the department’s objections to disclosure lack merit. The Tax Court agreed with Popovich with one exception – interrogatory No. 4. It seeks the internal documentation and communications between DOR employees and legal counsel. Judge Martha Wentworth sustained the department’s objections to disclosing this under the work-product and attorney-client privileges only to the extent that the DOR identifies the communications with enough specificity for the parties to determine that they are indeed work-product or attorney-client communications.

Wentworth found that the work-product and attorney-client privileges don’t preclude disclosure in response to the rest of Popovich’s discovery requests. She also rejected the DOR’s argument that Indiana recognizes a deliberative process privilege applicable to the discovery rules. She said it’s up to the Legislature to elevate public policy regarding the protection of deliberative processes into a privilege.

The department must fully respond to his discovery requests within 45 days.

In a separate order in the same matter, Wentworth denied Popovich’s second motion to compel filed after the DOR did not bring original documents to a deposition.

Indiana Trial Rule 26(F) requires a party seeking to compel discovery to attempt to resolve the discovery dispute before seeking court intervention and to document its attempts in the motion. Popovich did not provide the required showing in his motion to meet the rule’s requirements, Wentworth found. He did not make a reasonable effort to resolve the discovery dispute before filing this motion to compel.
 

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  1. This law is troubling in two respects: First, why wasn't the law reviewed "with the intention of getting all the facts surrounding the legislation and its actual impact on the marketplace" BEFORE it was passed and signed? Seems a bit backwards to me (even acknowledging that this is the Indiana state legislature we're talking about. Second, what is it with the laws in this state that seem to create artificial monopolies in various industries? Besides this one, the other law that comes to mind is the legislation that governed the granting of licenses to firms that wanted to set up craft distilleries. The licensing was limited to only those entities that were already in the craft beer brewing business. Republicans in this state talk a big game when it comes to being "business friendly". They're friendly alright . . . to certain businesses.

  2. Gretchen, Asia, Roberto, Tonia, Shannon, Cheri, Nicholas, Sondra, Carey, Laura ... my heart breaks for you, reaching out in a forum in which you are ignored by a professional suffering through both compassion fatigue and the love of filthy lucre. Most if not all of you seek a warm blooded Hoosier attorney unafraid to take on the government and plead that government officials have acted unconstitutionally to try to save a family and/or rescue children in need and/or press individual rights against the Leviathan state. I know an attorney from Kansas who has taken such cases across the country, arguing before half of the federal courts of appeal and presenting cases to the US S.Ct. numerous times seeking cert. Unfortunately, due to his zeal for the constitutional rights of peasants and willingness to confront powerful government bureaucrats seemingly violating the same ... he was denied character and fitness certification to join the Indiana bar, even after he was cleared to sit for, and passed, both the bar exam and ethics exam. And was even admitted to the Indiana federal bar! NOW KNOW THIS .... you will face headwinds and difficulties in locating a zealously motivated Hoosier attorney to face off against powerful government agents who violate the constitution, for those who do so tend to end up as marginalized as Paul Odgen, who was driven from the profession. So beware, many are mere expensive lapdogs, the kind of breed who will gladly take a large retainer, but then fail to press against the status quo and powers that be when told to heel to. It is a common belief among some in Indiana that those attorneys who truly fight the power and rigorously confront corruption often end up, actually or metaphorically, in real life or at least as to their careers, as dead as the late, great Gary Welch. All of that said, I wish you the very best in finding a Hoosier attorney with a fighting spirit to press your rights as far as you can, for you do have rights against government actors, no matter what said actors may tell you otherwise. Attorneys outside the elitist camp are often better fighters that those owing the powers that be for their salaries, corner offices and end of year bonuses. So do not be afraid to retain a green horn or unconnected lawyer, many of them are fine men and woman who are yet untainted by the "unique" Hoosier system.

  3. I am not the John below. He is a journalist and talk show host who knows me through my years working in Kansas government. I did no ask John to post the note below ...

  4. "...not those committed in the heat of an argument." If I ever see a man physically abusing a woman or a child and I'm close enough to intercede I will not ask him why he is abusing her/him. I will give him a split second to cease his attack and put his hands in the air while I call the police. If he continues, I will still call the police but to report, "Man down with a gunshot wound,"instead.

  5. And so the therapeutic state is weaonized. How soon until those with ideologies opposing the elite are disarmed in the name of mental health? If it can start anywhere it can start in the hoosiers' slavishly politically correct capital city.

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