Monday, January 28, 2013

Former Florida Chief Justice calls BOG report on FAMU's anti-hazing program "incompetent"

Charles Wells in 2000 during his tenure as the Chief Justice of Florida.
Florida Auditor General David W. Martin recently scolded the Board of Governors (BOG) for failing to do enough to prevent hazing in the State University System of Florida. He said the BOG put students at risk by failing to adopt a detailed regulation that sets specific minimum standards for anti-hazing programs in the SUS.

If BOG Inspector General Derry Harper had made it a priority to try and get the BOG to pass such a policy, the BOG might have avoided that negative audit finding.

Harper’s preliminary report on FAMU’s anti-hazing program is now under fire from a former Florida chief justice.

Charles Wells, who led the Florida Supreme Court from 2000 to 2002, ripped Harper’s work in a court filing he made in support of FAMU on Wednesday, Jan. 16. His filing responded to a motion by Christopher Chestnut, who is representing the parents of deceased FAMU drum major Robert Champion in their civil suit against the university. Chestnut wants Judge Walter Komanski to take Harper’s report under consideration as he reviews FAMU’s motion to dismiss the Champion family’s lawsuit.

Wells urged Komanski to reject Chestnut’s request. He said that Harper’s report is “incompetent, unauthenticated and inadmissible hearsay.”

Rick Mitchell, FAMU’s lead attorney, explained that FAMU is not personally attacking Harper. He simply challenges the idea that Harper is some type of “expert” on anti-hazing programs.

“I like Mr. Harper personally, just disagree on whether he's an 'effectiveness expert' in the complex area of university student hazing,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell added: “At bottom, FAMU's former anti-hazing program satisfied the applicable standard of care, and our current program embraces and exceeds all hazing prevention best practices recently identified by the Board of Governors.”

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