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Gov. Holcomb's lawyers could bill nearly $200K for suit

The contract wasn't signed until after a judge rejected Rokita's argument that he had the authority to prevent Holcomb from hiring private lawyers for this case.
Credit: AP Photo/Darron Cummings
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb delivers his State of the State address virtually, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021, in Indianapolis.

INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana governor's office has signed a contract paying a law firm up to nearly $200,000 for challenging the increased power state legislators gave themselves to intervene during public health emergencies. 

The governor's office released the contract with Indianapolis firm Lewis Wagner on Monday for representing Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb in the lawsuit against the Legislature that it filed in April. 

At issue was a new law that state lawmakers passed earlier in the year. The law gives state lawmakers more power to intervene during public health emergencies. Holcomb argued the legislature was overstepping and sued. The lawsuit argues the legislature is "usurping a power given exclusively to the governor" under the state constitution.

RELATED: Gov. Holcomb sues Indiana's Legislature over emergency powers law

Holcomb's contract, however, wasn't signed until July 23 after a Marion County judge rejected arguments from Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita, a Republican, that he had the legal authority to prevent Holcomb from hiring private lawyers for the case. 

The judge wrote that such an interpretation would give the attorney general greater power than Holcomb in protecting the governor's constitutional powers. The judge said that would be “an absurd result."

RELATED: Judge letting Gov. Holcomb sue Indiana's legislature to block emergency law

The state Supreme Court also ruled against Rokita. He asked the higher court to "cease all proceedings" in Holcomb's lawsuit. That request was denied in a unanimous 5-0 decision.

Rokita then pushed forward with a permanent request that was denied Aug. 27.

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