MARQUETTE--An Ingham County judge has ruled that Northern Michigan University will have to cover legal expenses incurred by the Detroit Free Press in its lawsuit against the NMU Board of Control.

'I can't speculate on the board's response to the decision," said Robert "Buzz" Berube, board chair. 'We plan to take the issue under advisement at our next meeting.

But again, I want to assure everyone that there has been no deliberate attempt on our part to violate any provision of the state Open Meetings Act. The judge's recognition of this is clearly reflected in the text of his ruling.'

Judge William Collette reaffirmed his position that the board's closed-session interviews with five presidential candidates were a technical violation of the open meetings legislation. He added: "Because the court finds that the board made a good faith effort to comply with the act, the court denies any request for future injunctive relief and hereby orders the defendant to pay a civil fine of $1."

At the time of his original ruling in May, Collette ordered both sides to pay their own legal fees. The Free Press countered with a motion stating that case law precedent required that the judge impose legal expenses on the NMU board if he found its activities in violation of the law. This motion set the stage for today's hearing.

The Free Press must submit to the court and to the board an itemized bill for court costs and actual attorneys' fees. NMU will have an opportunity to review the fees and make objections, if necessary.

Prepared By
Kristi Evans
News Director