LSU loses appeal in public records lawsuit
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — A panel of the 1st Circuit Court of Appeal in Baton Rouge has upheld a judge's ruling that requires the LSU university system to turn over names of three dozen candidates considered during its presidential search.
LSU has refused to release the names while the issue is pending in the courts.
A closed-door search led to the hiring of F. King Alexander, who started work in June.
The Advocate and The Times-Picayune filed lawsuits seeking access to the name of presidential candidates, and a state district judge ruled the documents were public records and must be released.
LSU board members have defended the process, saying it was designed so sitting chancellors and presidents can be considered without worrying about their current positions.
State District Judge Janice Clark ruled in April that the records are public and must be surrendered to the newspapers.
The appellate court panel's ruling was released Friday.
The question of whether records of LSU's search for a president are public documents has been answered by Clark and the 1st Circuit, said Lori Mince, an attorney for the Advocate.
"This is very good news, and we are thrilled," Mince said. "The 1st Circuit says: 'We're declining to reverse Judge Clark (on the public records issue).'
"LSU was asking the 1st Circuit to reverse Judge Clark (on the public records issue), and (the 1st Circuit) refused to do so. The 1st Circuit denied those requests," Mince said.
It was unclear late Friday whether LSU would ask the Louisiana Supreme Court to review the issue or release the names.
Jimmy R. Faircloth Jr., an Alexandria attorney for LSU, said the system's request to the 1st Circuit "was not an appeal."
Faircloth said LSU had asked the 1st Circuit to take over the case when Clark did not immediately rule on the issues of what damages and attorney fees must be paid by LSU.
The 1st Circuit panel, Faircloth said, told LSU to: "Go back and get a final decision (from Judge Clark)."
Faircloth said LSU now will return to Clark's court for her decisions on damages and attorney fees.
"The bottom line is LSU will get its chance to appeal," Faircloth said.