by Max Brantley
Circuit Judge Mark Lindsay of Fayetteville ruled from the bench today mostly in favor of a motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed by a Fort Smith attorney over Chancellor John White's alleged failure to adequately investigate the Houston Nutt e-mail matter. (I agree with Wally. If you need an explanation by now, you don't care.)
John David Terry of Mountain Ida is the plaintiff in the suit against White and UA System President Alan Sugg. Terry complains they should have done more than have Nutt investigate e-mail sent to quarterback Mitch Mustain by a friend of Nutt. The UA has argued that the lawsuit is a fishing expedition. (You bet it is.)
The judge has now dismissed most of the case. Good questions about the UA's gross mishandling of this matter and Nutt's curious behavior do not necessarily a good lawsuit make.
My courthouse source, relying on relayed information, said the suit was dismissed specifically as to breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty and misuse of public funds. He said the plaintiff was given 15 days to file additional pleadings with sufficient facts to support one other argument, a request for an independent investigation of the Teresa Prewett-to-Mustain e-mail.
(UPDATE AND CORRECTION: News accounts from reporters who were present are saying that, contrary to what my source had heard earlier, all four counts were dismissed but additional time was given -- 20 days, not 15 -- on the breach of contract and breach of fidcuiary duty arguments and that the judge dismissed the misuse of public funds complaint and the request for an independent investigation.)
(FURTHER CORRECTION JUNE 6: Everybody screwed up. /The illegal exaction and mandamus complaints were allowed to stand for further argument.)
Any way you slice it, the matters left are very long shots. The plaintiff's lawyer, Eddie Christian, has argued that the matter begs for an independent investigation, even though NCAA rules don't require it. He also contends that legal wrong was done, though he can't illustrate an affirmative duty on the part of public officials to act or an expenditure of money contrary to public policy (except paying public officials who are screwups). He's worked hard to keep the suit alive so he could take testimony. Go fishing, in other words. He'll have to come up with better than he's shown so far to keep the lawsuit alive long enough to take depositions.