Records in LSU presidential search not released
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Two Louisiana news organizations are asking a judge to punish LSU's Board of Supervisors for not releasing documents related the university's presidential search.
Lori Mince is an attorney representing The Times-Picayune/NOLA Media Group and The Advocate newspaper. She filed a motion Friday asking Judge Janice Clark to find the supervisors in contempt of court.
The filing comes two weeks after the judge ruled that LSU was violating the state Public Records Act by withholding names of 35 candidates considered for the presidency. Clark's April 30 ruling declared the requested materials public records and ordered LSU "to immediately produce" them.
The university has argued in court that the only finalist was the person who got the job, F. King Alexander. Because of that, the university argued that Alexander's name was the only one it was obligated to disclose.
Jimmy Faircloth, the attorney representing LSU, filed notice Thursday that the university is appealing Clark's earlier ruling and asking her to suspend the ruling until the appeal is heard. Faircloth was not immediately available Friday or Saturday to respond to Mince's request that the LSU governing board be held in contempt of court.
Mince said LSU should have asked the judge for a stay of the April 30 ruling, but failed to follow that proper procedural path. Therefore, Mince said, the university should release the records.
"When a court orders you to do something, you better snap to it," Mince said.
LSU chose Alexander after working through a search firm, R. William Funk and Associates, which hired by the university's private foundation.
Funk's firm identified 100 potential candidates before narrowing the field to 35, whose résumés and other materials were put on a secure website for the search committee members to view, Mince argued in court.
Those 35 candidates were narrowed to a final group of six or seven who were worthy of more intensive interviews before King became the only candidate recommended to the full board by the search committee.
Faircloth argued that confidentiality was necessary to ensure that LSU attracted the best pool of applicants.
LSU Board of Supervisors Chairman Hank Danos released a statement after the April 30 ruling, saying the judge had ordered LSU to release records it didn't have.
"The ruling orders LSU to do something that is not possible — to produce records not in LSU's custody or control," Danos said.