The Baton Rouge Advocate and the Times-Picayune sued LSU several months ago under Louisiana's open records law, seeking to obtain the records of LSU's search for a new president. The search ended last March when the LSU Board of Supervisors selected F. King Alexander as LSU's new chief executive. At least 35 other people applied for the job, but LSU refuses to release these applicants' names.
Last April, Judge Janice Clark issued an order directing LSU to turn over the records of its search, including the names of the other applicants, but LSU refused to comply.
|Judge Janice Clark|
Instead it tried to get the Louisiana Supreme Court to issue a stay of Judge Clark's order while LSU pursues a leisurely appeal. The Supreme Court declined to issue a stay, but LSU still won't turn over the records. LSU accrues a fine of $500 per day for each day it refuses to comply with Judge Clark's order and currently owes about $60,000.
This morning, Judge Clark increased the pressure on LSU to turn over the records. In an order issued from the bench, she directed the Sheriff of East Baton Rouge Parish to seize the presidential search records and indicated she would issue the appropriate writs and warrants necessary for the sheriff to carry out her order.
LSU would like Judge Clark to issue a final judgement in the case so it can start the long process of appealing it, a process that could take years. It wants to continue withholding the records while the appeal is pending. By the time the appeal process is over, President King Alexander will probably be gone--having left LSU for an even more lucrative job. LSU could then argue that the whole dispute over its presidential search is moot.
But Judge Clark said today that there will be no further proceedings in the case until the disputed records are turned over. Meanwhile, LSU continues in contempt of Judge Clark's April order and risks even heavier sanctions being imposed on it--including jail time for recalcitrant members of the LSU Board of Supervisors.
So what's LSU's next move? With the sheriff poised to search LSU's administrative offices (and perhaps even the offices of LSU's attorneys), I think LSU has run out of options. Surely it will turn over the records sometime this week.
|LSU Prez King Alexander|
Hey, I'm just a bystander
As for LSU President King Alexander, he is sitting on the sidelines. He did not appear in court this morning with LSU's attorney. President Alexander could show real leadership if he would tell the LSU Board of Supervisors to obey the law like everyone else in Louisiana is required to do and comply with Judge Clark's order.
Joe Gyan, Jr. Judge: LSU board could face jail time in records case. The (Baton Rouge) Advocate, September 10, 2013, p. 1.