U to appeal president search ruling

The University argued its autonomy allows it to withhold finalists’ names.

The University Board of Regents will appeal to the Minnesota Supreme Court a state court decision requiring it to release the names of finalists from its last presidential search.

The University is petitioning the court to allow the board to withhold names of finalists until after the state Supreme Court reviews its appeal.

The appeal comes after two lower courts ruled that the state’s Open Meeting Law and Data Practices Act apply to the regents, and that the board should release finalist names.

The appeal is in response to a suit originally filed by five media organizations – The Minnesota Daily, the Star Tribune, the St. Paul Pioneer Press, the Rochester Post-Bulletin and the Minnesota Joint Media Committee.

The University argued that the state’s constitution gives it the autonomy to withhold the names.

Mark Anfinson, lawyer for The Minnesota Daily, expects the state Supreme Court to accept the appeal, but he does not think the regents will emerge victorious.

“I don’t think they have a good underlying case to win,” he said. “Both the district court and the state court have analyzed the law and haven’t found the slightest amount of credibility in the regents’ argument.”

The regents asked for an extension of a stay, which is scheduled to expire Sept. 18. Star Tribune attorney John Borger said the newspapers would “obviously resist any attempt to get a stay” and will file petitions.

“Both the law and the facts are on the side of the newspapers and the public,” he said. “The public has already suffered significantly … the longer the public has to wait (for the information) the greater the injury to the public.”

University General Counsel Mark Rotenberg did not return phone calls Thursday afternoon.

– Libby George contributed to this report.