State AG to challenge order for Daniels to testify

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

An Indiana judge on Friday ordered Gov. Mitch Daniels to be deposed in two lawsuits over the state's cancellation of a $1.37 billion contract IBM received to modernize the state's welfare system, but the state attorney general said he would challenge the order.

"A deposition of a sitting governor would set a precedent that would have ramifications for the Office of the Governor and all of its future officeholders," Attorney General Greg Zoeller said in a statement. "As Attorney General, is it my legal obligation to ensure that this court order is challenged, and therefore it will be challenged in the appropriate court."

Peter Rusthoven, one of the private attorneys representing the state in the suit, said he believed no Indiana governor had ever been compelled to testify in court.

But Marion Superior Court Judge David Dreyer said a law state attorneys say protects Daniels from testifying is "ambiguous" and excluding Daniels from being deposed would be "illogical," given that the state filed the first lawsuit in the case.

Indiana is suing IBM to recover more than $400 million it paid the company before Daniels canceled the 10-year contract in 2009 amid complaints about the automated welfare system. IBM's countersuit says the state still owes IBM about $100 million.

"It is illogical to find the Statute is intended to allow any governor to apparently make relevant decisions and potentially admissible statements in support of the State's own lawsuit and not be questioned," Judge David Dreyer wrote.

IBM contends Daniels could provide details others couldn't. Indiana's attorneys argued it's common for high-ranking government officials to stay out of civil suits.

"The governor's intent and state of mind are issues of fact in this case," the order said. Without the governor's testimony, both sides could be forced to call other witnesses to speculate about his intent, which would be inadmissible, Dreyer wrote.

"I don't think this will be likely to stand up," Daniels told reporters Friday when asked about the ruling. "This is really not about me or one governor. There's a reason Indiana has had a law for a hundred and some years. Governors wouldn't do anything other than sit around in lawyers' offices if every contract would be subject to a deposition."

Rusthoven said attorneys believe the order is wrong and will ask a court to review it. It was not clear from Zoeller's statement which court he intended to appeal in.

"It's a mistake. It's not about this governor. It's not about this lawsuit," Rusthoven said. "It's about protecting any governor from spending his time having to be involved in lawsuits against the state."

The state Family and Social Services Administration, which is a party to the suit, declined to comment.

IBM spokesman Clint Roswell welcomed the court order.

"We are pleased that Judge Dreyer has agreed we should be able to question Governor Daniels under oath since he was personally involved from the earliest days of this project and was hands-on concerning project management — repeatedly praising IBM's efforts," Roswell said in a statement.

"Judge Dreyer's ruling shows that Governor Daniels cannot avoid answering legitimate questions concerning his key role in the welfare program, especially in light of his often-stated promise of transparency in government," he added.


  • I believe that if Mitch had a good case, he would want to testify.

    Mitch seems to be hiding behind laws to protect a governor from frivolous suits. This is clearly not a frivolous suit, Mitch started it. Mitch should have wanted to testify so he is correct on his suit. Saying it is not about Mitch but about all governors: well Mitch is good with sound bites.

    The real problem, Mitch gets all the brainless in his party to vote as he says. None have the power to think on their own. We may has well not have a senate and house if none will vote outside Mitch's desires.

  • Why not ask more questions
    Two quick points, why does the state hire outside lawyers, for both the IBM case and the gov's case. Why not ask His Highness when he found out about the 320 mill? Mitch we are not worthy of being yours serfs.
  • Mitch is too busy meeting with Litebox Junior Executive types
    Mitch cannot be interrupted with this tiny measly IBM contract mess.

  • Deposing the Governor
    If my memory doesn't fail me, Rusthoven is wrong. I was in the AG's office from 1987-1989. I remember the AG fighting an attempt to depose Governor Orr and losing that fight.
  • fire him
    he killed our public educational system , return inclusion teachers into the classroom . these politicians simply dont care
  • Daniels to testify
    It's about time Mitch is taken to task on this. The entire IBM/ACS takeover of managing public asssistance is a complete and utter disasater, and NO ONE in the media cares enough to really dig into the matter. IBM's plans stunk, but getting rid of just them did NOTHING to help the situation. It's a huge mess and getting worse all the time.

Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. So much for Eric Holder's conversation about race. If white people have got something to say, they get sued over it. Bottom line: white people have un-freer speech than others as a consequence of the misnamed "Civil rights laws."

  2. I agree, having seen three shows, that I was less than wowed. Disappointing!!

  3. Start drilling, start fracking, and start using our own energy. Other states have enriched their citizens and nearly elminated unemployment by using these resources that are on private land. If you are against the 'low prices' of discount stores, the best way to allow shoppers more choice is to empower them with better earnings. NOT through manipulated gov mandated min wage hikes, but better jobs and higher competitive pay. This would be direct result of using our own energy resources, yet Obama knows that Americans who arent dependent of gov welfare are much less likely to vote Dem, so he looks for ways to ensure America's decline and keep its citizens dependent of gov.

  4. Say It Loud, I'm Black and Ashamed: It's too bad that with certain "black" entertainment events, it seems violence and thuggery follows and the collateral damage that it leaves behinds continues to be a strain on the city in terms of people getting hurt, killed or becoming victims of crimes and/or stretching city resources. I remember shopping in the Meadows area years ago until violence and crime ended make most of the business pack you and leave as did with Lafayette Square and Washington Square. Over the past 10 to 12 years, I remember going to the Indiana Black Expo Soul Picnic in Washington Park. Violence, gang fights and homicides ended that. My great grandmother still bears the scares on her leg from when she was trampled by a group of thugs running from gun fire from a rival gang. With hundreds of police offices downtown still multiple shootings, people getting shot downtown during Black Expo. A number of people getting shots or murdered at black clubs around the city like Club Six on the west side, The Industry downtown, Jamal Tinsley's shot out in front of the Conrad, multiple fights and shootings at the skating rinks, shootings at Circle Center Mall and shooting and robberies and car jackings at Lafayette Mall. Shootings and gang violence and the State Fair. I can go on and on and on. Now Broad Ripple. (Shaking head side to side) Say It Loud, I'm Black and I'm Ashamed.

  5. Ballard Administration. Too funny. This is the least fiscally responsive administration I have ever seen. One thing this article failed to mention, is that the Hoosier State line delivers rail cars to the Amtrak Beech Grove maintenance facility for refurbishment. That's an economic development issue. And the jobs there are high-paying. That alone is worth the City's investment.