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California Briefing / SACRAMENTO

Judges postpone gov.'s deposition

August 20, 2008|Michael Rothfeld

Three federal judges Tuesday postponed the depositions of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and two top aides in a prison overcrowding case while they review a magistrate's decision ordering the officials to testify under oath.

U.S. Magistrate Judge John F. Moulds issued an order Thursday saying Schwarzenegger, Chief of Staff Susan Kennedy and Senior Deputy Cabinet Secretary Robert Gore had personal knowledge of prison overcrowding issues to be explored at a trial slated for November. He ordered them to sit for depositions early next month.

State lawyers Friday requested that the order be reconsidered by the judges slated to oversee the trial: U.S. District Judges Thelton Henderson and Lawrence Karlton, and 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Stephen Reinhardt.

The state, in a court filing, called Moulds' decision "unprecedented" and said he had ignored legal precedent granting immunity to high public officials. The state's lawyers wrote that testifying would be a distraction to Schwarzenegger and his aides and a waste of public resources. They also argued that it would be improper to allow inmates' lawyers "to call the governor and his top aides to debate their policy decisions."

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