Judge dismisses UT regent Hall’s suit seeking access to admissions records

By Matthew Watkins
The Texas Tribune
Originally published Dec. 15, 2015

A state district judge on Tuesday threw out a lawsuit by University of Texas System Regent Wallace Hall that sought to force the system to turn over records related to an admissions scandal.

Soon after, Hall’s lawyer declared that his client is appealing, meaning the case is far from over.

In a one-page order, Judge Scott Jenkins of Travis County dismissed the case with prejudice, meaning Hall is barred from filing another suit on the matter. Jenkins gave no written explanation for his ruling.

Hall’s attorney, Joseph Knight, was undeterred, saying everyone involved in the case expects an appeals court to issue the final judgement.

“We remain as confident in our legal position as we ever have been,” Knight said. “So we are just letting the process play out.”

Hall sued University of Texas System Chancellor Bill McRaven in June, saying that he was entitled to records that an outside investigator used to compile a report on UT-Austin’s admissions procedures. The report found that the university accepted some students with powerful connections, even though they may not have been qualified. McRaven had denied Hall access to the records, saying giving them out would violate federal privacy laws.

McRaven asked the court to dismiss the case. In a statement, he said he was grateful for the dismissal but is ready for an appeal.

“As I explained in court, I do everything in my power to uphold the law,” he said. “I believe that a regent’s access to information is not above the law and while I am pleased to provide a regent with the answers and information he or she may seek in order to make informed decisions, I will also continue to protect confidential student information, as required by federal and state law.”