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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. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

  2. I pd for a bankruptcy years ago with Mr Stiles and just this week received a garnishment from my pay! He never filed it even though he told me he would! Don't let this guy practice law ever again!!!

  3. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  4. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

  5. Pass Legislation to require guilty defendants to pay for the costs of lab work, etc as part of court costs...

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