AMARILLO, TX (KCBD) - An appeals court is expected to make a ruling within a few weeks to decide if Texas Tech can appeal a previous court ruling on whether investigation information into the firing of former Coach Mike Leach should be made public.
The appeal came from a June ruling in which a trial court granted, in part, and denied, in part, a second amendment plea, which would allow information from the Leach investigation to be made public.
Eric A. Hudson, an attorney with the Office of the Texas Attorney General, represented Texas Tech during the hearing, which was in the Seventh Judicial District of Texas Court of Appeals in Amarillo. Arguments were made in front of Justices Brian Quinn, James Campbell and Judy Parker.
Tech made the argument that some of the information requests made by Dolcefino Communications, LLC -- a public information consulting company -- were not specific enough, had wrong information or the information did not exist.
“(Tech) simply did not have responsive information,” Hudson said during the appeals hearing.
The original trial court’s ruling said that Tech was refusing to make information public, but during arguments made Wednesday, Hudson said some of the requests Tech was asked to respond to had no merit to them.
There were three requests made by Dolcefino on Oct. 9, 2017, Oct. 11, 2017 and Nov. 30, 2017, according to court documents. Those three requests were not responded to because Tech said there was no information on them.
One request specifically asked for information on any “alleged mistreatment of ‘Adam Jones.’” Tech responded by saying Dolcefino was probably asking for information on the mistreatment of Adam James but Tech did not have a completed investigation report about Leach’s mistreatment of James.
“Texas Tech’s lawyers at the Attorney General’s Office, says that we should just believe them and there aren’t any records,” Wayne Dolcefino, president of Dolcefino consulting said. “Well, I’m here to tell you, they’re lying. They either lied then or they’re lying now.”
However, Hudson said that just because Tech was not able to provide information on the subject does not mean the university had anything to hide – there just was not information there. Litigators with Tech did not make the decision in bad faith, but rather made the decision because there was no information to give.
David Coale, an attorney with Lynn Pinker Cox & Hurst of Dallas, was making arguments on behalf of Dolcefino and said there is too much mystery surrounding the reason Tech does not have the documents available.
“We’re suing the university for documents,” Coale said during the hearing. “It’s a cause of action for documents.”
The second part of the hearing was to settle a pay dispute Dolcefino had with Tech in getting some documents. Court documents show there were 13 document requests made from September of 2017 to late October of 2017 that were withdrawn legally.
Various charges were applied to Dolcefino’s company, but the company had pay disputes and felt it was being overcharged.
Court documents show that Dolcefino was given the opportunity to contest the charges with the Attorney General’s Office, withdraw the documents and submit a new set with more narrow terminology or pay the charges.
“You have to go through these routes,” Hudson said. “You’re not entitled to the mandamus action just because you don’t want to go through these.”
Attorneys with Dolcefino said there were talks with Tech in negotiating ways of payment or trying to narrow a new request that would be sufficiently fulfilled by the university.
Tech said the information requests were withdrawn lawfully because of the failure to pay the cost and the failure to properly object cost estimates in an official matter, according to court documents.
“Thus, TTU is not refusing to produce public information when there is no public information,” court documents state. “Therefore, the trial court order partially denying TTU’s Second Ammendment Plea to the Jurisdiction must be reversed.”