The judge presiding over former USF Bulls football coach Jim Leavitt's wrongful termination suit against USF has ordered the university to release 148 pages of documents that the university's attorneys had tried to have exempted from public records.
Hillsborough County Circuit Judge Bernard Silver ruled last week that USF must produce 148 pages of attorneys' notes, finding that while they do count as reflecting "a mental impression, conclusion, legal strategy or theory of an attorney," such exemptions are only valid when prepared "in anticipation of imminent civil litigation," and the judge found that exemption does not apply. USF was given 10 days to produce the documents from the order on Oct. 21.
Silver made two other rulings, first that public employees' notes "to themselves and designed for their own personal use" are not considered "public record" and are privileged from being produced as evidence in the Leavitt case. Silver also ruled that interviewers' notes from USF's investigation into the incident that led to Leavitt's firing do not qualify as "education records," so the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act does not apply to them in exempting them from public records requests.
Silver approved some redactions to the notes -- any references to 12 student-athletes who expressed concern about their privacy being violated will be redacted, as will references to the alleged victim in the case, football player Joel Miller, and any references to players' medical conditions. Silver ordered that the unredacted interview notes be produced within 10 days.
The two sides continue to file motions relating to what can and cannot be allowed into evidence before a long list of depositions begin from Leavitt's attorneys. USF's attorney, Richard McCrea, said in court last month that it could be a year before the trial begins before a jury.