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Judge: Governor can be deposed

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Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels shouldn’t be excused from appearing for a deposition in a lawsuit challenging the cancelled multi-million dollar contract with IBM to modernize the state’s welfare system, according to Marion Superior Judge David Dreyer.

The trial judge issued a ruling Thursday that held neither state statute, court precedent or public policy warrants Daniels being excused from having to appear to discuss his decision-making and knowledge of the now-cancelled, 10-year contract worth $1.37 billion.

“The effect and consequences of not allowing the deposition are simply untenable,” Dreyer wrote. “Under such an interpretation, the Statute is at best unwise when so much public money depends upon the outcome. But lack of wisdom is not grounds to depose a governor.”

This is the latest ruling in the consolidated suit and countersuit of State v. International Business Machines Corp. and IBM v. State, No. 49D10-1005-PL-021451, centering on the cancelled contract between the state and IBM for the modernization of the state’s welfare system. The state sued last year trying to recoup hundreds of millions of dollars it had paid IBM before cancelling the contract in 2009. The computer giant countersued on breach of contract allegations and argued the state still owes about $100 million.

Dreyer had earlier this year ruled the state must turn over thousands of pages of documents, including emails from the governor and other state officials, relating to that cancelled contract. The state decided not to immediately appeal that ruling about “deliberative” documents and privilege, and the judge held a hearing in April about whether the governor and chief of staff, Earl A. Goode, must appear for depositions.

The state argued that Daniels delegates day-to-day management of the governor’s office and doesn’t have any “unique substantial knowledge” of that contract, while IBM argued that Daniels took this on as a pet project and his depositions are needed.

Dreyer initially ruled Daniels didn’t have to testify about his involvement, based on evidence he had reviewed at the time, and that no exception in state statute warranted his testimony.

But after further review and consideration, Dreyer found that Indiana Code 34-29-2-1 is open to multiple interpretations. Only one reported case, Government Supplies Consolidating Servs., Inc. v. Bayh, 753 F. Supp. 739 (S.D. Ind. 1993), addresses the issue, but it focuses on federal privilege law and not the state statute.

The ruling this week is narrow and isn’t meant to apply in all situations or create any lasting exception to the state statute, Dreyer wrote.

 

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  1. The is an unsigned editorial masquerading as a news story. Almost everyone quoted was biased in favor of letting all illegal immigrants remain in the U.S. (Ignoring that Obama deported 3.5 million in 8 years). For some reason Obama enforcing part of the immigration laws was O.K. but Trump enforcing additional parts is terrible. I have listed to press conferences and explanations of the Homeland Security memos and I gather from them that less than 1 million will be targeted for deportation, the "dreamers" will be left alone and illegals arriving in the last two years -- especially those arriving very recently -- will be subject to deportation but after the criminals. This will not substantially affect the GDP negatively, especially as it will take place over a number of years. I personally think this is a rational approach to the illegal immigration problem. It may cause Congress to finally pass new immigration laws rationalizing the whole immigration situation.

  2. Mr. Straw, I hope you prevail in the fight. Please show us fellow American's that there is a way to fight the corrupted justice system and make them an example that you and others will not be treated unfairly. I hope you the best and good luck....

  3. @ President Snow - Nah, why try to fix something that ain't broken??? You do make an excellent point. I am sure some Mickey or Minnie Mouse will take Ruckers seat, I wonder how his retirement planning is coming along???

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