Indiana SC says governor can't be compelled to testify

Michael P. Tremoglie Mar. 27, 2012, 12:28pm


INDIANAPOLIS (Legal Newsline) -- The Indiana Supreme Court says Gov. Mitch Daniels cannot be compelled to give a deposition in a breach of contract lawsuit.

IBM and the State of Indiana were suing each other for work and equipment the IBM performed to modernize the state's welfare system.

During the course of the litigation, IBM served notice to take Daniels' deposition. Indiana maintained that any deposing the Governor was prohibited. It claimed that the governor enjoyed an unqualified executive "privilege[ ] from arrest on civil process, and from obeying any subpoena to testify."

The trial court issued a "Protective Order Precluding Deposition of Governor at This Time." But it changed its opinion several months later and ordered the governor be deposed -- after IBM moved to compel it. Indiana appealed to the state Supreme Court.

On March 21, the Supreme Court ruled that the privilege afforded by Indiana law to the governor "is absolute."

"And although it may be expressly waived, once invoked any party protected by the privilege simply may not be compelled to give testimony," it wrote. "The Governor's involvement may or may not be relevant to the questions raised in this litigation.

"If relevant, the trial court will determine the appropriate remedial measures to ensure that the interests of justice are served."

The trial court order was reversed.

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