Legal concerns simmered in summer courts

by Kamariea Forcier

While students were enjoying long days full of sunshine, many lawyers were putting in overtime fighting legal cases important to the University community.
ù Louis Cardona Buggs is awaiting trial for the murder of University student Kami Talley. His jury trial is scheduled to begin January 1997 at Hennepin County District Court, where he faces life in prison if found guilty of first degree murder.
Buggs remains in jail on a $1 million bond after police extradited him from Virginia where he had been staying with relatives. Buggs fled the state after Talley was murdered February 14 at her workplace. Police located him in Virginia after an international search led investigators through Minnesota, Texas and Mexico.
ù Dr. Patricia Olson and Dr. Shirley Johnston, former University employees, lost their legal fight against gender discrimination at the College of Veterinary Medicine.
After three weeks of testimony, a U.S. District Court jury found that Johnston and Olson had not been discriminated against while working at the University.
Johnston was a professor and part-time associate dean at the college in 1992 when her co-worker, Olson, applied for the Small Animal Clinical Sciences Department chair position. When an equally qualified male candidate was given the position, Olson filed a gender discrimination complaint with the University. Three months after the claim was filed, Olson’s teaching position was eliminated, and Johnston was demoted from associate dean.
Johnston, a tenured professor, left the University in June 1996 for another teaching position in Washington state. Olson works in Colorado.
Attorneys for Johnston and Olson said they will decide in the next 30 days whether or not to appeal the case to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
ù Jennifer Joan May, the woman charged with firing a bullet into the ceiling of University President Nils Hasselmo’s office June 11, is undergoing further psychological examinations before her case continues through Hennepin County District Court.
May is charged with four counts of second degree assault, one for each of Hasselmo’s staff endangered in the incident.
At a pre-plea hearing to determine which course of legal action May’s case will take, Judge Peter J. Lindberg ordered a further psychiatric examination of May. This evaluation would determine whether or not she may be found innocent by reason of mental illness.
Lindberg will hear the results of May’s examination on November 5.
ù Charges brought against the University by a psychiatry professor were dismissed July 9 in U.S. District Court.
James Halikas brought charges against the University in 1994 claiming he was denied due process in an investigation led by the University into his research of Hmong patients addicted to opium.
After hearing about possible violations of research law, the University issued a press release announcing they would investigate the matter. Halikas claimed his reputation was harmed as a result of this pre-investigation announcement.
Halikas said in July he may file a claim with the University grievance committee.