Holcomb claims Rokita needs to broaden the lawyer common’s workplace
As part of his battle with the legislature for executive powers, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb accused Attorney General Todd Rokita of creating legal fiction to “extend the attorney general’s authority beyond his statutory duties and powers.”
The governor made the allegations in his response to the Attorney General’s motion asking Marion’s Supreme Court to commence the House Enrolled Act 1123 lawsuit. The law passed through Holcomb’s veto gives the Indiana General Assembly the power to convene a special session.
Holcomb hired an outside attorney for Lewis Wagner and filed a lawsuit arguing that the law violates the Indiana Constitution, which gives the governor sole power to convene the legislature for a special session. However, Rokita stepped in, claiming that as the attorney general, rather than the court, he was the proper authority to resolve the dispute between the executive and legislative branches.
A 31-page response against the AG’s strike motion stressed that the attorney general is a position created by Indiana lawmakers rather than the Indiana Founding Fathers.
“Our system of three branches of government – with their respective checks and balances – was not designed or established to allow any legally established position to determine how to interpret the Indiana Constitution based on its ‘legal judgment’,” explains Holcomb in his movement. “It is absurd to conclude that Indiana governors’ access to justice is based solely on such a weak and subjective judgment as a current holder of a legally established political position.”
In a footnote, the governor further claims that if an attorney general could exercise such authority, “self-promotional political calamity” would result. “Who should say – and how could that be challenged – that a prosecutor general’s ‘legal judgment’ is based on an actual legal analysis versus political or other reasons,” the motion said.
Holcomb also alleges that Rokita is violating the Indiana Rules of Professional Conduct, which prevents an attorney from representing a client when the agency “is directly detrimental to another client.”
The governor noted the reaction from the heads of state after the filing of the lawsuit and highlighted President Todd Huston’s remark that the legislation was “in consultation with the Indiana Attorney General.” Holcomb argues that this shows that Rokita is not neutral, but has publicly sided with the defendants.
“Attorney General Rokita has refused to acknowledge his rule 1.7 dilemma by representing one side in this case – in an attempt to essentially prevent the other party’s form from appealing,” said Holcomb in his response.
The defendants were given permission to file a response within seven days on Tuesday.