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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. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  2. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

  3. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

  4. The sad thing is that no fish were thrown overboard The "greenhorn" who had never fished before those 5 days was interrogated for over 4 hours by 5 officers until his statement was illicited, "I don't want to go to prison....." The truth is that these fish were measured frozen off shore and thawed on shore. The FWC (state) officer did not know fish shrink, so the only reason that these fish could be bigger was a swap. There is no difference between a 19 1/2 fish or 19 3/4 fish, short fish is short fish, the ticket was written. In addition the FWC officer testified at trial, he does not measure fish in accordance with federal law. There was a document prepared by the FWC expert that said yes, fish shrink and if these had been measured correctly they averaged over 20 inches (offshore frozen). This was a smoke and mirror prosecution.

  5. I love this, Dave! Many congrats to you! We've come a long way from studying for the bar together! :)

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