Judge orders ousted DOC secretary Buss to testify in prisons lawsuitby Dara Kam | September 15th, 2011
A judge ordered former Department of Corrections Secretary Ed Buss to testify in a lawsuit about the state’s privatization of prisons in the southern part of Florida.
Tallahassee Circuit Judge Jackie Fulford denied the state’s request to keep Buss, fired by Gov. Rick Scott late last month, from having to give a deposition in the lawsuit filed by the Florida Police Benevolent Association.
Buss left the agency amid the privatization of more than one-third of the state’s prisons, the largest privatization effort in the country.
His abrupt resignation came after Scott’s office twice rebuked the former Indiana prisons chief over state contracts and after the termination of a contract with Elizabeth “Betty” Gondles, one of Buss’s hand-picked aides, for a possible conflict of interest with the privatization of the department’s health services.
Attorney General Pam Bondi, representing Scott’s administration in the lawsuit, argued that, because he is no longer secretary, Buss should not have to give a deposition.
But Fulford sided with the PBA, saying that Buss is “reasonably likely to have unique discoverable knowledge of potentially relevant subject matter” and that the PBA had tried unsuccessfully to get the information elsewhere.
The PBA is challenging the privatization, alleging that it is unconstitutional because it was included in proviso language in the state budget instead of a stand-alone bill creating state policy.
A hearing is scheduled for Sept. 29.