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Justices rule governor doesn't have to testify in IBM case

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On the same day it heard arguments, the Indiana Supreme Court reversed a Marion Superior judge’s ruling and held that Gov. Mitch Daniels does not have to testify or be deposed in an ongoing lawsuit over the cancelled contract to modernize the state’s welfare system.

The justices issued an order Monday afternoon in the case of State of Indiana v. International Business Machines Corporation, No. 49S00-1201-PL-15, which follows a ruling from Judge David Dreyer in December that Daniels shouldn’t be excused from appearing for a deposition because nothing in state statute, court precedent or public policy warrants that.

During the arguments, an attorney representing the state argued that the law protected Daniels from having to testify and that the state had provided more than 50 other employees for depositions in his place. But IBM’s attorneys argued that Daniels has specific detailed knowledge about the deal that others didn’t and he should be required to share that information.

Within hours of hearing the case, the justices said that making Daniels give a deposition is contrary to Indiana Code 34-29-2-1 that protects the governor and other high-ranking officials from testifying in civil cases. The order signed by Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard said a written opinion will follow to explain more fully the Supreme Court’s decision reversing the trial court’s order. Justice Frank Sullivan concurred in result.

A trial is scheduled before Dreyer Feb. 27 in the case. The state had agreed to pay IBM $1.37 billion over 10 years to modernize Indiana’s welfare system, but Daniels canceled the contract in 2009 because of complaints about the automated system. The state sued IBM in May 2010 to take back the $437 million it paid the company. IBM countersued, saying the state still owes the company about $100 million.

Last month, Dreyer awarded small victories to each side. He ruled the state should pay IBM $40 million in subcontractor assignment fees and capped the damages the state can seek at $125 million, but he declined to dismiss the case in IBM’s favor on a request for $43 million in deferred fees and for the state to return computers and equipment used in the project.

 

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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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