Local News

Hearing Soon in Friedman Against Stabosz Case

(La Porte, IN) - A court hearing is scheduled next week in the defamation of character lawsuit filed by La Porte County Attorney Shaw Friedman against LaPorte County Auditor Tim Stabosz.


The hearing is for Judge Stephen Bowers to consider a motion filed by the defense to dismiss the case. The case was filed in February in La Porte Circuit Court.


Bowers, a judge in Elkhart County, oversees the case to avoid a conflict of interest since Friedman and Stabosz are involved in local politics.


Friedman claims damages from Stabosz, alleging he runs county government by having control over some elected officials.


Stabosz asks what he calls a “frivolous lawsuit” to be dismissed, claiming public officials are open to public criticism. However, he maintains his allegations are correct.


Friedman argues the case should not be dismissed, claiming Stabosz crossed the legal line in his allegations about a public official. He also denies the accusation that he runs the county government.


“I answer to the commissioners,” Friedman explained.

Attorneys from both sides will argue their cases in a hearing scheduled for November 10 in Elkhart Superior Court 2.


The La Porte County Commissioners are also suing Stabosz for twice ignoring their orders to pay Friedman & Associates just over $11,000 for their work in August and September. Stabosz said he has questions about some of Friedman’s billing and won’t pay until the law firm provides him with the information he needs to verify the claims.


According to Stabosz, Friedman, by declaring attorney-client privilege for not turning over the information to the county auditor, reminded him of the actions by former president Richard Nixon, who had to resign.


“This is like Watergate, frankly, when Nixon claimed executive privilege that I don’t have to reveal this stuff,” he said.

Stabosz said Friedman further resembles Nixon by refusing to hand over the information to Commissioner Joe Haney, “who is his boss. That’s the crime.”


Attorney Alan Sirinek, representing the commissioners in their lawsuit, said Friedman is acting “rightfully” by exercising his right to attorney-client privilege. He also said Haney is just one out of three commissioners, and a majority would have to ask Friedman to hand over the information.


Friedman said referring to a disgraced president to describe the situation cannot be taken seriously.


“It was a silly position for the auditor to take. A week ago today, the head of the State Board of Accounts sent him a letter saying very clearly the auditor is to pay the bill if ordered to do by the commissioners.  Costing the taxpayers money to argue otherwise really makes no sense to me,” Friedman said.

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