AG Hill’s top advisers compelled to produce evidence in discipline case

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Two of Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill’s top advisers must produce documents concerning their communications with him regarding the groping and sexual misconduct accusations that led to his attorney discipline hearings, scheduled to begin next week.

Former Indiana Supreme Court Justice Myra Selby, who is the hearing officer in Hill’s attorney discipline case scheduled to begin Monday, issued an order late Tuesday compelling deputy attorney general Aaron Negangard and chief of staff Mary Beth Bonaventura to produce documents sought in the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission’s emergency motion to compel production of documents. Selby’s order says the documents must be handed over “immediately and not later than October 17, 2019.”

Selby issued the order after earlier this month ordering Negangard, Bonaventura and a law student to turn over certain communications regarding Hill’s discipline case to the commission.

General Counsel Joan Blackwell provided similar communications under a protective order. She is not named in Selby’s order granting the commission’s emergency motion to compel.

Spokespeople in Hill’s office did not immediately reply to a message seeking comment on whether the officials have complied with Selby’s order or intend to before the Thursday deadline.

Democratic Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon, her legislative aide Samantha Lozano, Niki DaSilva, a former legislative aide for Senate Republicans, and Gabrielle McLemore, communications director for the Senate Democrats, claim Hill groped or sexually harassed them at a March 2018 party marking the end of the legislative session. They also accuse Hill of using his official position to subsequently retaliate against them.

Blackwell, Bonaventura and Negangard each hired outside counsel to represent them as they previously moved to block disclosure of four categories of communications between themselves and Hill that the commission had requested. Those categories are:

  1. Communications about the March 2018 sine die party, where Hill’s accusers say he groped or harassed them;
  2. Communications with Hill about the disciplinary action stemming from the sine die party;
  3. Communications with Hill’s disciplinary lawyers — Donald Lundberg, Jim Voyles and Jennifer Lukemeyer — relating to the sine die party, the sexual misconduct allegations and/or the disciplinary action; and
  4. Copies of communications with third parties about the sine die party, the sexual misconduct allegations and/or the disciplinary action.

Selby’s order requires Bonaventura and Negangard to turn over “Documents responsive to Items 1 and 2 of the Commission’s Requests for Production of Documents to a Non-Party, as identified on the privilege logs … .” Selby’s order excludes from production “The previously identified June 19, 2019 text from Mary Beth Bonaventura” to Hill.

The contents of that text have not been disclosed, but the timing of the text is one day after Hill’s accusers announced the filing of a federal sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit against Hill and the state.

Separately, citing the “substantial public interest and media attention” in Hill’s discipline case, Selby also late Tuesday issued an order governing the conduct of those involved in the hearing and observers “so that the decorum of an open court will be maintained throughout the proceedings.”

The decorum order limits access to the hearing in the Indiana Supreme Court Conference Room from Monday through Friday of next week to the beginning and the end of session and breaks. Cellphones and other electronic devices are permitted but must be on silent mode. Photos, video and audio may not be captured or transmitted.

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