Bad news for IDOT leaders - Updated x1
Tuesday, Aug 29, 2006
[Bumped up because it was posted so late yesterday.]
Have a look at this. [pdf file - fixed link] IDOT Secretary Tim Martin and two of his deputies appear to be royally screwed.
Martin, Mike Stout and Scott Doubet were sued by several former IDOT employees who claimed their firings were politically motivated.
“During the first months of tenure as governor, Rod Blagojevich publicly announced plans to fire employees that he associated with high-ranking members of the prior Republican administration on allegations that they participated in personnel transactions that would protect their continued employment,” states the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Springfield.
The attorney general originally appointed Jenner & Block to handle the case, but J&B backed out and IDOT’s top lawyer ordered the firm not to turn over any documents to AG Lisa Madigan’s office.
The dispute went to court, and a judge ruled today in favor of Lisa Madigan, ordering J&B to turn over the files.
This is a lose-lose-lose for the defendants, who claimed that Madigan wasn’t representing their best interests. That’s pretty obviously happening, as Madigan appears to be representing the state’s best interests and not necessarily the three individual defendants. They have complained bitterly of this in various pleadings.
[As I just wrote in comments, it seems clear to me that Madigan believes or at least suspects that the defendants acted outside the scope of their employment or she wouldnt have done things like order three IDOT employees to turn over subpoenas and threaten them with contempt of court against the defendants’ wishes.]
[Parenthetical update: I just lost half this post after attempting to update on my Treo. From here on out is a recreation.]
The judge also ruled that they could not hire their own attorney unless they gave up indemnification, which isn’t much of a choice.
The Defendants, in their individual capacities, may always forego indemnification by the state and hire their own attorneys to represent them. If they do so, the Attorney General will still represent them in their official capacities since those claims are against the state of Illinois.
And in a final blow, the judge ruled that Mary Lee Leahy had to answer questions and was not protected by attorney client privilege. The plaintiffs and AG Madigan wanted Leahy to be deposed (which gives you another idea where Madigan is going with this.) Leahy had advised the governor’s office after Blagojevich was sworn in, and had met with top IDOT officials, apparently about the case in question.
Thus, the dispute about Leahyâ€™s deposition is, once again, a strategic one about how to conduct the defense. The Defendants consented to the Attorney General conducting the defense and agreed to cooperate. The Defendants, therefore, gave the Attorney General the authority to make these types of strategic decisions. Again, the Defendants do not assert that the substance of Leahyâ€™s testimony will be adverse to their interests. The Attorney Generalâ€™s strategic decision to let Leahy be deposed, therefore, is not adverse to them and, so, does not create a conflict of interest between the Attorney General and them.
The Sun-Times wrote about this back in May in a story entitled “Gov muzzles his clout-buster.”
At his first press conference as governor, Rod Blagojevich announced he was bringing in a clout-busting lawyer to help take politics out of state hiring. But now the governor doesn’t want her talking about what she did. His lawyers are keeping attorney Mary Lee Leahy from answering questions about whether 17 state employees were bounced in 2004 because of their political ties. […]
UPDATE: The AP has a story up now. Not much different than what I have posted, but go see it for yourself.