Judge says Fed court to decide SBPD tape release - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Judge says Fed court to decide SBPD tape release

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Tape drama continues in South Bend.  Lawyers for the common council and the mayor's office were in court Tuesday to discuss if the release of recorded phone conversations would be decided in local or federal court.

The Common Council requested to keep the proceedings in the local court. But, because the mayor had already filed in federal court, Judge Michael Gotsch, granted comity, or professional courtesy. This means the proceedings will continue in the Federal Court, something attorney Aladean DeRose says is a "good and reasonable decision."

"There's nothing we could have done. We moved as fast as we could to get here," says Common Council attorney Spencer Walton.

Walton says this ruling will delay the process and be more expensive for taxpayers, but it's something Gotsch can authorize. "Our problem is, it's our only course of action through this court. It was discretionary as to whether he would grant the stay and he chose to grant it, all within his authority and right to do so."

"The City Administration is generally pleased with Judge Gotsch's ruling because it gives the federal court first decision making authority. In the federal court case, most of the parties who have direct interest in the outcome are participants in the litigation," says DeRose.

However, there is a compromise. If the Federal Court decides not to hear the case or move too slow, then Gotsch will intervene. A status hearing is scheduled in 60 days for December 3, where Gotsch is expected to make that decision.

The South Bend Common Council had issued a subpoena for the mayor to release tapes of recorded phone conversations by the South Police Department.

In regards to that subpoena, the city is granted 10 more days to answer to the subpoena. On October 15, they must have an answer ready as to why they don't want to turn over the tapes.

Another lawsuit is also pending involving officers who say their rights were violated because those phone conversations were recorded.

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