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Justices explain opinion in IBM case

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Last month, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled that Gov. Mitch Daniels doesn’t have to testify in the dispute between the state and IBM regarding a cancelled contract to modernize the state’s welfare system. On Wednesday, the justices explained their reasoning.

In State of Indiana v. International Business Machines Corporation, No. 49S00-1201-PL-15, the majority focused on Indiana Code 34-29-2-1, which says the governor is “privileged from arrest on civil process, and from obeying any subpoena to testify,” and whether that precludes a trial court from issuing an order to compel the governor’s deposition in this case. Writing for the majority, Justice Robert Rucker found that the statute does preclude Daniels’ deposition.

The state and IBM are locked in a legal battle over the state’s decision to cancel the multi-million dollar contract with IBM to update Indiana’s welfare system. IBM served notice on Daniels to take his testimonial deposition, but the state argued under I.C. 34-29-2-1(6), Daniels cannot be deposed. A Marion Superior judge eventually ruled that Daniels could testify.

On Feb. 13, the justices heard arguments on the matter and ruled Daniels doesn’t have to testify.

Rucker wrote in the opinion that ultimately, the question in the case boils down to whether a trial court’s order to compel the governor’s deposition amounts to a “subpoena” from which the governor is privileged under Indiana statute. The majority found the reference to “subpoena” in the statute encompasses the order at issue here, and the statute clearly precludes the deposition of a sitting governor.

“To hold otherwise would be to elevate a strict literal meaning of the word 'subpoena' over clear Legislative intent to provide a gubernatorial privilege against compelled testimony. Surely the Legislature did not mean that any court command, provided it was not denominated 'subpoena,' would suffice to evade the statutory privilege,” Rucker wrote.

Justice Frank Sullivan concurred in result in a separate opinion, writing that it’s not necessary to rule on the privilege issue because the information IBM seeks from the governor isn’t relevant or material to any issue in the case.

 

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  1. Major social engineering imposed by judicial order well in advance of democratic change, has been the story of the whole post ww2 period. Contraception, desegregation, abortion, gay marriage: all rammed down the throats of Americans who didn't vote to change existing laws on any such thing, by the unelected lifetime tenure Supreme court heirarchs. Maybe people came to accept those things once imposed upon them, but, that's accommodation not acceptance; and surely not democracy. So let's quit lying to the kids telling them this is a democracy. Some sort of oligarchy, but no democracy that's for sure, and it never was. A bourgeois republic from day one.

  2. JD Massur, yes, brings to mind a similar stand at a Texas Mission in 1836. Or Vladivostok in 1918. As you seemingly gloat, to the victors go the spoils ... let the looting begin, right?

  3. I always wondered why high fence deer hunting was frowned upon? I guess you need to keep the population steady. If you don't, no one can enjoy hunting! Thanks for the post! Fence

  4. Whether you support "gay marriage" or not is not the issue. The issue is whether the SCOTUS can extract from an unmentionable somewhere the notion that the Constitution forbids government "interference" in the "right" to marry. Just imagine time-traveling to Philadelphia in 1787. Ask James Madison if the document he and his fellows just wrote allowed him- or forbade government to "interfere" with- his "right" to marry George Washington? He would have immediately- and justly- summoned the Sergeant-at-Arms to throw your sorry self out into the street. Far from being a day of liberation, this is a day of capitulation by the Rule of Law to the Rule of What's Happening Now.

  5. With today's ruling, AG Zoeller's arguments in the cases of Obamacare and Same-sex Marriage can be relegated to the ash heap of history. 0-fer

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