Former AL governor's attorneys argue to dismiss latest lawsuit

Updated: Jul. 24, 2018 at 6:28 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The Court will soon determine whether the latest lawsuit filed against former Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley survives the first critical milestone in civil court, or if it's dismissed.

Tuesday, attorneys appeared in Montgomery Circuit Court to argue over the future of former state employee James Nolin's case against Bentley. Counsel for the defendants, Bentley, former ALEA Secretary Stan Stabler, and ALEA General Counsel Michael Robinson, made oral arguments on their motions to dismiss the case.

Nolin's civil claim alleges Bentley, Stabler, and Robinson conspired to end his career and stain his reputation after Nolin followed orders to obtain documents from the state's servers to fulfill a grand jury subpoena for Bentley's emails.

At the time of Nolin's termination, he was Chief Information Officer with the Alabama Department of Finance, which warehouses information technology for the state.

Due to Nolin's position, he was a voting member of the Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center Commission, or the ACJIC, which manages the state's criminal record database.

The lawsuit alleges that after Nolin produced Bentley's emails, the defendants falsely accused Nolin of illegally accessing information from the ACJIC, despite him having the authority to do so.

Bentley told the media that senior-level employees with the Finance Department may have committed a crime, and publicly called for investigations by the state and FBI. A letter to Nolin from Gov. Kay Ivey stated the investigations determined no crime was committed and she issued an apology for the fallout.

Tuesday, attorneys for the defendants claimed sovereign immunity protected their clients from Nolin's claims, but Nolin's attorney, Kenny Mendelsohn, stated the immunity protection did not apply as they acted out of the scope of their authority.

This argument was successful in advancing former ALEA Secretary Spencer Collier's claims against Bentley,  allowing that lawsuit to proceed with discovery and depositions. In April, the Alabama Supreme Court denied a petition from Bentley's attorneys in the seeking immunity on multiple tort claims in that case.

Both Nolin and Collier's lawsuits were filed by Mendelsohn and are assigned to the same Court, Judge Greg Griffin.

Tuesday, Griffin ended the hearing on Nolin's case by asking all attorneys to submit proposed orders to the Court before he made a decision on dismissing the case.

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