Lawyers for Indianapolis City-County Councilman Joseph Simpson may depose a city attorney about legal advice she gave in another case regarding a state statute at the heart of Simpson’s wrongful arrest case, a federal judge ruled Friday.
Magistrate Judge Tim Baker of the District Court for the Southern District of Indiana denied the city’s motion to quash a subpoena seeking to depose Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department attorney Melissa Kramer on her interpretation of a criminal statute under which Simpson was charged.
“Ordinarily, such advice would be shielded on grounds of privilege. However, Office of Corporation Counsel, which represents Defendants, has put Defendants in a bind,” Baker wrote in Joseph Simpson v. City of Indianapolis and Andrew McKalips, 1:13-cv-791.
Because a transcribed copy of Kramer’s legal opinion was inadvertently produced to attorneys in prior litigation and the city never asked for its return and allowed a witness to be questioned about it in another case, “the unmistakable conclusion is that Defendants have waived any privilege associated with Kramer’s opinion,” Baker wrote.
“The Court rejects Defendants’ suggestion that Kramer’s deposition would be superfluous. Kramer must be produced for a deposition, and Defendants must produce documents as outlined,” Baker ruled.
Simpson was arrested by Officer Andrew McKalips about two years ago after the councilman allegedly refused to leave a neighbor’s house where the officer was investigating a possible burglary. Simpson was charged with refusing to leave the scene of an emergency incident area under the Interference with a Firefighter chapter of I.C. 35-44-1-4-5, and resisting law enforcement, according to the order. The charges later were dismissed.
Simpson sued the city in May 2013, claiming false arrest and malicious prosecution. The suit alleges Simpson suffered “physical discomfort, loss of liberty, embarrassment and humiliation, emotional distress, and damage to his good name and reputation,” and it seeks damages as well as attorney fees and costs.
At issue is Kramer’s interpretation of whether the interference with a firefighter statute pertained to police emergency scenes. Kramer had provided an opinion in a prior case that also involved Simpson’s lawyer, Indianapolis civil-rights attorney Richard Waples.
Simpson, a Democrat, represents District 9.