Showing posts with label legal affairs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label legal affairs. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Feeley steps down as “chief officer” of FAMU legal affairs, Thomas to lead division

On Friday, December 16, Maria Feeley submitted her resignation from the position of “chief officer” of the FAMU Division of Legal Affairs.

“It is with mixed emotions that I write to tender my resignation as the Chief Officer of the Division of Legal Affairs of this great institution,” Feeley said in her letter to Interim President Larry Robinson.

Feeley has been hired as the vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary of the University of Hartford in Connecticut.

Former President Elmira Mangum appointed Feeley to serve as the general counsel effect July 20, 2016. She replaced Avery McKnight, who Mangum fired on December 1, 2015.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

FAMU SGA elections sink into further reality TV-style dysfunction

The 1st District Court of Appeal found that the FAMU administration didn’t break any laws when it backed a decision to redo the entire Student Government Association (SGA) presidential election during the spring. An article in the Tallahassee Democrat reported that “the panel did give support to [a circuit court] recommendation to limit the re-election to the Orlando campus” where the only voting-day problems were reported. It said that recommendation was “reasonable.”

But now that the lawsuit against the redo of the entire election redo has been thrown out, there isn’t much of a chance of the “reasonable” happening in the FAMU SGA mess, which is starting to look more like a second-rate reality TV show.

A former reality TV cast member is actually at the center of the drama. Kyle Washington, who appeared on the BET series “College Hill” in 2009, has had a big part in many negative headlines over FAMU SGA issues for years.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

List of official challenges against Mangum’s actions grows

The number of official challenges against actions taken by FAMU President Elmira Mangum has grown.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

FAMU BOT narrowly approves Mangum’s request to appeal court ruling on SGA elections

Former Judge Belvin Perry, Jr. votes "no," says trustees weren't given enough information to make a good decision

Yesterday, the FAMU Board of Trustees (BOT) narrowly approved a request by President Elmira Mangum to appeal a circuit court injunction against a full redo of the Student Government Association presidential (SGA) election. The motion passed with a 7-5 vote.

The “yea” votes were: Chairman Cleve Warren, Vice-Chairman Kelvin Lawson, Tommy Dortch, David Lawrence, Craig Reid, Nicole Washington, and Robert Woody.

The “no” votes were: Matt Carter, Faculty Senate President Bettye Grable, SGA President Tonnette Graham, Kimberly Moore, and Belvin Perry.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Bruno says Mangum supporting manipulation of SGA elections in attempt to protect her job

Back on October 22, FAMU Student Government Association (SGA) President Tonnette S. Graham and Vice-President Justin Bruno battled what they called an under-handed effort to oust Elmira Mangum from the big seat in Lee Hall.

Graham cast the deciding vote against a Board of Trustees (BOT) motion to fire Mangum that failed narrowly at 6-6. She and Bruno then held a rally on the steps of Lee Hall that called for Chairman Rufus Montgomery, who was at the head of the effort to terminate Mangum, to step down from his leadership post. Bruno later took that message to Gov. Rick Scott by leading about 100 students in a march to his office in the Florida Capitol. Rufus resigned from the chairmanship the next day.

Yesterday, Bruno was back on the steps of Lee Hall for another protest. But this time, he said Mangum was the one who was bringing harm to the only public historically black university in the state.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Controversies over presidential supervision of general counsels shake FGCU, FAMU

Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) and Florida A&M University (FAMU) are still dealing with the fallout from controversies over the way their general counsels have been supervised.

Back on December 18, Florida Board of Governors Inspector General Joseph K. Maleszewski released a report that covered questions about the contracts FGCU President Wilson G. Bradshaw gave to Chief of Staff Susan Evans and Athletic Director Ken Kavanagh.

According to the Naples Daily News:

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Holifield calls termination of McKnight “a step backwards” for FAMU

Last month former Florida A&M University General Counsel Bishop Holifield called the termination of his successor, Avery McKnight, “a step backwards” for the university.

“That office had such a track record of success it’s hard to understand why anyone would want to undermine the success,” Holifield said when Capital Outlook reporter St. Clair Murraine asked him to comment on McKnight’s exit. “I think it’s a step backwards. I think it would be difficult to find someone more competent and more committed than Avery McKnight.”

Holifield hired McKnight to work in the general counsel’s office in 1992. McKnight then became the new general counsel after Holifield retired in 2002. He later served as an attorney for Allen, Norton and Blue before returning to the FAMU general counsel position in 2007.

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

McKnight fired, trustees had asked him to look into shift of $12.9M COE budget to FSU

Yesterday FAMU alumna Lynn Hatter, a reporter for WFSU, broke the news that FAMU General Counsel Avery McKnight had been fired.

McKnight’s termination came months after the then-chairman and vice-chairman of the FAMU Board of Trustees (BOT) had asked him to look into the shift of the $12,996,539 core operating budget of the College of Engineering (COE) from FAMU to Florida State University.

Back at an August 5 BOT committee meeting, Chairman Rufus Montgomery and Vice-Chairman Kelvin Lawson challenged President Elmira Mangum’s claim that the money shift made by a vote of the Joint College of Engineering Governance Council on May 20 was a “management decision.”

Monday, November 23, 2015

Holmes’ firing handled almost as incompetently as Joe’s termination

One big problem behind the decline of the Florida A&M football program over the past ten years has been the willingness of some so-called Rattlers to defend administrative mistreatment of the coaching staff. Too many people who tell the world that they “bleed Orange & Green” have had such a personal dislike of certain football coaches that they didn’t even care about treating those employees with fairness.

The unprofessional termination process used against Earl Holmes in 2015, which a number of “Rattlers” still claim isn’t a big deal, was almost as much of a national embarrassment as the incompetent firing of Billy Joe in 2005.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Proctor asks FAMU trustees to pay out Holmes and Johnson’s contracts

Leon County Commissioner Bill Proctor, a graduate of FAMU High School and current political science instructor at FAMU, is asking the FAMU Board of Trustees to pay out the contracts of two recently fired coaches.

Yesterday, Proctor released a letter that urged the trustees to reach a fair financial settlement with former Coaches Earl Holmes and Clemon Johnson, who are FAMU alumni. Former Athletic Director Kellen Winslow terminated both of their contracts in 2014.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Champions settle with FAMU for $300,000 and with hotel insurer for $800,000

Yesterday, numerous headlines incorrectly reported that the family of deceased FAMU drum major Robert Champion had reached a $1.1 million settlement with the university. But the settlement between the Champions and FAMU is actually $300,000. The money will be paid by the Florida Department of Financial Services.

FAMU offered the Champions $300,000 in 2012, but the family rejected it. The Florida sovereign immunity law sets $300,000 as the most that state universities may pay as part of a legal proceeding. Higher amounts must come from a claims bill passed by Florida Legislature.

The Champions have now decided to accept the $300,000 settlement even though it is $7.7 million less than the $8 million that a July article in the Orlando Sentinel reported that they asked FAMU to pay, earlier.  

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

McKnight placed in the middle of Mangum, BOT leadership dispute over SACS rules

The dispute between FAMU President Elmira Mangum and the Board of Trustees leadership over the rules of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) has put Avery McKnight between a rock and a hard place.

Back on August 5, the chairman and vice-chairman of the Board of Trustees challenged Mangum’s claim that the shift of the $12,996,539 core operating budget of the College of Engineering (COE) to Florida State University (FSU) was a “management decision.”

The Joint College of Engineering Governance Council unanimously passed a resolution to make that change during a meeting on May 20. The decision was made without a vote of approval by the FAMU Board of Trustees.

Vice-Chairman Kelvin Lawson said that “Section 3: Comprehensive Standards” of the SACS rules could give the Board of Trustees a way to challenge what the Joint Council did.  “Section 3” includes a rule that says the policy-making job of the board of a school must remain distinct from the job of the administration to oversee the execution of policies.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

BOT chairman: “The communication is horrible and is not improving”

The minutes of the June meeting of the FAMU Board of Trustees state that President Elmira Mangum and the board members “agreed to hit the reset button and move forward with communication, collaboration, and mutual respect.” But yesterday, Chairman Rufus Montgomery said that his conversations with the president had become even more contentious.

“The communication is horrible and is not improving,” Rufus told the other trustees during a conference call on August 17.

Rufus said that he and Mangum had spoken over the phone earlier that morning. He said that her response to his request for more timely and detailed information was “odd, disrespectful, and unacceptable.” The chairman also said that the president left the call in an abrupt manner.

Monday, August 17, 2015

BOT shouldn’t give Mangum its trust as long as she refuses to answer questions about alleged Cassidy call

Back during a discussion with the FAMU Board of Trustees on August 5, President Elmira Mangum was uncooperative when she was asked for a “yes or no” answer to a question about an alleged phone call that the chairman said he received from a vice-president in her administration.

At the Special Committee on Governance meeting held on that day, Chairman Rufus Montgomery said that a senior member of the FAMU administrative team had called him and asked him if he would be willing to have the committee end its discussions on two topics it was considering. According to him, those topics were the possibility of having the FAMU general counsel report to the Board of Trustees in addition to the president and clarifying the options that are available to the board for employing outside counsel.

The chairman said the administrator told him that in exchange, Vice-President for Legal Affairs and General Counsel Avery McKnight could be replaced with a new potential general counsel.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Champion family offers to settle wrongful death lawsuit against FAMU for $8M

Dante Martin, who was sentenced to 6 years, 5 months in the homicide case
The Orlando Sentinel reports that the parents of deceased Marching 100 drum major Robert Champion have offered to settle their wrongful death lawsuit against FAMU for $8 million. A civil trial is scheduled to begin in October.

FAMU offered the Champions $300,000 in 2012, but the family rejected it. The Florida sovereign immunity law sets $300,000 as the most that state universities may pay as part of a legal proceeding. Higher amounts must come from a claims bill passed by Florida Legislature.

Champion died after a hazing incident aboard a charter bus in Orlando on November 19, 2011.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Clemon Johnson sues FAMU, says university owes “unpaid wages”

Back on January 26, Rattler Nation reported via its Twitter feed that sources said former FAMU men’s Head Basketball Coach Clemon J. Johnson might sue the university. On Monday, May 11 Johnson officially filed a lawsuit against FAMU in the Second Judicial Circuit Court of Florida.

Johnson, a FAMU alumnus and former player in the National Basketball Association, signed a four-year contract with the university back in 2011. He earned $150,000 per year.

FAMU President Elmira Mangum sent Johnson a “notice of non-reappointment and employment separation” on April 18, 2014 shortly after the end of his third year in the position. The former head coach’s team was 10-23 in 2011-2012, 8-23 in 2012-2013, and 14-18 in 2013-2014.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Earl Holmes sues FAMU for $400,000

Earl Holmes, former Rattler head football coach, wants FAMU to pay him for the more than two years that remained on his four-year contract prior to his termination.

Yesterday, Holmes filed a civil lawsuit against the university’s Board of Trustees. He is seeking $400,000 and additional damages.

“It was not an easy decision for him,” said Tim Jansen, Holmes’ attorney. “He’s a Baby Rattler. He was a Rattler. He’s a Hall of Fame Rattler. He’s an NFL player. He came back to coach FAMU at the request of the university, the president, Board of Trustees.”

Monday, July 01, 2013

Champion's parents accuse FAMU of chasing dollars as they seek money from Rosen hotel

Back when Pamela and Robert Champion, Sr. announced their decision to sue the Rosen Plaza hotel for their son's hazing death aboard a parked bus, the reactions among news website visitors ranged from laughter to shock.

Commenters ask if the company that made the band instruments will be the next to be sued

Many of the commenters in response forums sarcastically asked who the Champions would sue next. Some guessed that future defendants would include the contractors who paved the I-75 interstate the bus used to travel from Tallahassee to Orlando. Other commenters said they thought the Champions would soon seek damages from the businesses that made the band uniforms and instruments.

The explanation Champion's parents gave for their lawsuit against Rosen provided even more fodder for such jokes.

According to the Orlando Sentinel: "The Champion family’s lawyer claims that Rosen's operators and its security team should have known that a hazing was reasonably likely to occur on the premises. The lawsuit alleges that marching band members were involved in a hazing on the hotel's 18th floor about six months earlier — an incident that led to the suspension of 30 members of the Marching 100. The suit, which previously accused FAMU, the bus company and its driver of allowing the hazing to take place, alleges that the parking lot was dimly lit, lacked security and surveillance cameras which could have deterred the hazing."

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Sylvain family’s denials sound just like Champion family’s denials

Members of the Sylvain family and the Champion family are calling FAMU into the civil courtroom. They have something else in common. Both vigorously reject all of the evidence that their FAMU children voluntarily participated in hazing.

FAMU suspended Aisha Sylvain for five years. According to the Associated Press, the university “kicked her out over hazing allegations.” Sylvain, who was supposed to receive her degree in Spring 2013, is now trying to get her dismissal lifted by suing the university.

The Sylvain story first made headlines when her father, Reggie Sylvain, spoke before the FAMU Board of Trustees in April. He denied that his daughter was involved in hazing and claimed that FAMU was “hazing” her.

“The worst form of hazing is what's being done to my daughter right now,” Reggie Sylvain said before the FAMU Board of Trustees. “She's stressed out. She's seeking medical attention. She’s certainly being harmed by what's going on with the Office of Judicial Affairs. Please reconsider.”

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Chestnut having tough time with transportation-related civil lawsuits

Attorney Christopher Chestnut has shown lots of confidence every time the media has questioned him about the civil lawsuit that Robert Champion, Jr.’s family asked him to file against Fabulous Coach Lines.

But Chestnut also showed lots of confidence about his work for the transportation-related civil lawsuit cases of Delvonte Tisdale’s family and Erin Pelton’s family.

On March 5, a judge tossed out a lawsuit that the Tisdale family filed against the city of Charlotte, North Carolina. The Tisdales hired Chestnut to represent them.

Delvonte Tisdale was a 16-old who is suspected of sneaking into the wheel well of a US Airways airplane that took off from the Charlotte airport and landed in Boston, Massachusetts. Officials discovered his body lying on the property of Logan International Airport in Boston in November of 2010.

According to Fox News Charlotte, the judge who dismissed the case “agreed that (1) nothing suggests that the City acted willfully or wantonly, the legal standard for a land owner to be liable to a trespasser such as Mr. Tisdale; (2) by allegedly entering a secured area and climbing into the wheel well, Mr. Tisdale was himself negligent; and (3) in providing security at the airport, the City owes a duty of care to the general public, and not to those who, like Mr. Tisdale, seek to breach security.”