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UT report: Charge against Hall is legally ‘absurd’

By   /   January 14, 2014  /   No Comments

Part 10 of 28 in the series Trouble in Texas
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HALL: A UT lawyer called it ‘absurd’ to accuse a man of a crime for sharing a document with his attorney.

By Jon Cassidy | Watchdog.org

HOUSTON – Legal counsel for the University of Texas System submitted a report Tuesday finding “no credible evidence” that Regent Wallace Hall violated a state law protecting confidential information or “any other state or federal law.”

Attorney Philip Hilder’s letter to a legislative committee investigating whether or not to recommend Hall’s impeachment came in response to a request by state Rep. Ferdinand “Trey” Fischer, who has accused Hall of breaking the law by showing his attorney e-mails regarding special treatment for certain applicants to the University of Texas.

“Those e-mails may not even be subject to FERPA (a federal student privacy law) given the purpose and content of the communication,” Hilder wrote.

Even if they are covered, Hilder wrote, “FERPA clearly allows for disclosure to ‘school officials,’” which include Hall, so long as they have a legitimate educational purpose.

“Regent Hall had a legitimate educational purpose for possessing the alleged FERPA email(s) because it/they raise concerns about possible favoritism in the U.T. Austin admissions process,” Hilder wrote. That alone “justified retaining the documents,” he wrote.

Hilder’s review found that “no one has ever been prosecuted for violating” the state law that Fischer accused Hall of breaking, and that “no appellate court has held that release of student records” violates that law, either.

The idea that it’s illegal to share records with your attorney in the face of prosecution or litigation is simply “absurd” under Texas law, Hilder wrote. If it were criminal to do so, you’d have defendants required to share documents with plaintiffs as part of discovery, but facing criminal charges for sharing them with their own attorneys, he wrote.

Contact Jon Cassidy at jon@watchdog.org or @jpcassidy000.

Part of 28 in the series Trouble in Texas
  1. Texas’ Rep. Pitts announces retirement after improper influence story
  2. University of Texas regents show support for Wallace Hall
  3. Case against UT regent Wallace Hall is a sham — here’s proof
  4. Texas senator got $477k for supposed ‘cameo’ appearance in Wallace Hall lawsuit
  5. Lawmaker admits pulling strings on UT admissions
  6. Trustee accused of crime for rejecting dodgy accounting
  7. Longhorns: Senator used clout in UT law school admissions
  8. Children of Texas lawmakers get into UT School of Law, but struggle to pass bar exam
  9. Chancellor is probing favoritism in UT admissions
  10. UT report: Charge against Hall is legally ‘absurd’
  11. Attorney in UT case hides six-figure charges despite terms of contract
  12. University of Texas clout scandal grows as new e-mails surface
  13. Four more get into UT Law despite low LSATs
  14. Reports on UT favoritism, impeachment expected soon
  15. Attorney: Secret tape covered up by lawmakers proves regent’s innocence
  16. Dozens of UT Law’s least qualified students are connected politically
  17. University of Texas uncovers admissions corruption, halts investigation
  18. UT admissions: Straus, Branch, Pitts pulled strings
  19. Who got the 128? UT Law admits students with bad LSAT scores
  20. Patrick’s win may doom Hall impeachment effort
  21. Chancellor promises complete investigation of UT admissions
  22. Board to decide UT president’s fate Thursday
  23. Texas politicians smarten up, ditch UT pres this time around
  24. Tribune story may have doomed UT’s Powers
  25. Academics condone the privilege they denounce
  26. Three essential stories on the UT admissions scandal
  27. Texas AG Greg Abbott embraces Roe v. Wade
  28. Roe v. Wade is AG’s new pretext for blocking Texas law school investigation

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Jon Cassidy is the Texas bureau chief for Watchdog.org. He also writes a weekly column on politics for The American Spectator. He was formerly a reporter and editor for The Orange County Register in California and a reporter at The Hill in Washington, D.C. His work has been published by Fox News, Reason, The Federalist, Human Events, and other publications. He is a 2014 Robert Novak Journalism Fellow and a graduate of the University of Southern California. He and his wife Michelle live just outside Houston with their two children.