INDIANAPOLIS (Legal Newsline) - The Indiana Supreme Court ruled Monday that the governor is not required to give a civil deposition.
The Court's single-page order -- it will issue its formal opinion at a later date -- reverses a trial court's decision requiring the governor to testify in a deposition.
The case, FSSA v. IBM, involved claims arising from the State's cancellation of a contract for welfare delivery services with International Business Machines Corp.
Indiana's Family and Social Services Administration appealed a Dec. 15 order of the Marion County Superior Court, which required Gov. Mitch Daniels to be deposed in the ongoing civil litigation between the agency and IBM.
A deposition is sworn testimony, taken out of court, with cross-examination.
Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard said Monday that the trial court's order is "contrary" to a section of Indiana Code.
Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller issued a statement following the Court's ruling Monday.
"In this important separation of powers case, we appreciate the fact that the Indiana Supreme Court has acted quickly and decisively in finding that the head of the executive branch cannot be forced to give a civil deposition," he said.
"With this question behind them, the litigants now will be able to proceed with their underlying contract dispute in the trial court."
The Indiana Attorney General's Office did not represent FSSA in the lawsuit, but had filed an amicus brief and argued Monday before the Court that the lower court's ruling should be reversed.
"The separation of powers in our state Constitution recognizes the coequal nature of the three branches of government. Under this principle the local judge should not exercise judicial authority over the head of the executive branch; and a law on the books for 160 years specifically protects a sitting governor from being required to testify under a civil subpoena," Zoeller argued.
The trial in the underlying lawsuit is scheduled for Feb. 27.
From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.