Discovery process halted in civil case against ex-Gov. Robert Bentley

Updated: Jan. 4, 2018 at 11:21 AM CST
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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Depositions and discovery have come to a grinding halt in former Alabama Law Enforcement Agency Secretary Spencer Collier's case against ex-Governor Robert Bentley.

Thursday, Montgomery Circuit Judge Greg Griffin issued a stay in the case, pending a ruling from the Alabama Supreme Court.

In December, Bentley's legal team petitioned the state's high court for a Writ of Mandamus to force Judge Griffin to grant Bentley immunity in the remaining claims in Collier's lawsuit.

State constitutional officers and employees are granted absolute immunity for protection from civil litigation and money claims associated with decisions and actions taken while acting in an official capacity.

Collier's lawsuit argues Bentley acted outside the scope of his authority in the actions leading up to and following his termination.

Judge Greg Griffin dismissed two employment counts against Bentley, leaving 7 tort claims in place: three counts of invasion of privacy, three counts of defamation, and one count of conspiracy.  Griffin's order stated discovery could help prove whether Bentley should be entitled to absolute immunity on the remaining counts.

Instead, Bentley's lawyers took the issue to the Alabama Supreme Court and filed a motion to stay discovery and any depositions, which Collier's attorney was eager to begin.

Thursday in court, Bentley's attorney made arguments for the stay, saying it would avoid unnecessary legal fees, which are still being footed by Alabama taxpayers despite Bentley's resignation from office in April.

Collier's attorney, Kenny Mendelsohn, said the protections for the stay only apply to an official, not a former governor who has resigned.

There's no word if the Alabama Supreme Court has requested responses from any of the parties involved, nor when the court will rule.

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