By MELINDA DESLATTE / Associated Press
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) -- A judge ordered authorities on Tuesday to seize information about LSU's search for a new president after school officials refused to release the documents publicly.
A lawyer for the LSU Board of Supervisors, however, said the documents are in the custody of a Texas-based consultant hired by the university -- and it wasn't immediately clear whether the local sheriff's office would have the authority to seize them. The LSU board has said it planned to appeal the judge's earlier order to make the documents public.
State district Judge Janice Clark first issued a ruling that the board release the documents pertaining to about three dozen potential candidates on April 30 after The Advocate and The Times-Picayune newspapers filed lawsuits.
"The court is of the opinion the Board of Supervisors of LSU and their attorney cannot, will not follow this court's order, and therefore, the court is going to appoint the sheriff ... to produce all of the documents," Clark said.
East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff Sid Gautreaux had not yet received the judge's order, spokeswoman Casey Rayborn Hicks said Tuesday.
"Once we receive the order, deputies will go to LSU, notify LSU Police and serve the order," she said in an email.
Jimmy Faircloth, an attorney for the LSU board, said the panel doesn't have any records to turn over to the sheriff. He said the presidential search information and candidate details are with the board's search consultant, William Funk, whose firm is based in Dallas.
"There's nothing for the sheriff to seize," Faircloth said. "There's nothing on any LSU campus or any LSU computer."
It was unclear whether the sheriff's office would be able to proceed with trying to retrieve documents from a consultant based in Texas. Faircloth said that would present "jurisdictional challenges."
Clark has expressed increasing frustration with the board for refusing to comply with her April 30 order.
She ruled the board and its then-chairman, Hank Danos, in contempt of court on Aug. 14 and fined them $500 per day for noncompliance, a penalty that is nearing $60,000 and counting. On Monday, she warned that the board could face additional sanctions, including imprisonment, if the documents weren't produced.
A closed-door search led to the LSU Board of Supervisors hiring F. King Alexander in March as the university system's new president and main campus chancellor. Alexander had been president of California State University Long Beach since 2006.
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.
Late last month, the Louisiana Supreme Court refused to stay Clark's ruling that the documents be immediately produced. Faircloth has said LSU will file a formal appeal of Clark's decision once there is a final judgment issued, but Clark hasn't issued one.