State ruling may affect UA lawsuit
A recent Arizona Supreme Court decision involving an Arizona State University employee may destroy the University of Arizona's case against fired Alzheimer's researcher Marguerite Kay.
The Monday decision stated that ASU employee Camille Kimball had the right to legal representation and her own witnesses in her administrative hearing, prompting Kay's attorney, Don Awerkamp, to file a motion for revision in her case.
Kay is awaiting a final decision from Pima County Superior Court Judge Stephen Villareal on whether her case will be returned to the university.
"The ASU case was a big focus (in the Kay trial)," Awerkamp said. "It was a big thing the university relied upon to say, 'we did it right.'"
Kay, a former microbiology and immunology professor, was fired in July 1998 after the Committee of Academic Freedom and Tenure found she had falsified research data.
During the CAFT hearing, Awerkamp said Kay was not allowed representation and not allowed to subpoena witnesses.
Awerkamp filed a motion with Villareal yesterday, asking for Kay's reinstatement with back pay, as well as an additional $884 in attorney fees.
Awerkamp said he expects Villareal to consider the recent case in his decision.
"I imagine he will do the right thing," Awerkamp said. "You can never underestimate the other side."
Jane Eckleberry, the state attorney representing the UA, could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Kay said she was pleased with the justices' decision.
"It brings some semblance of Constitutional law to the universities," she said. "It will force the universities to be fair with everyone."
Kay added that the UA should hold more accountability for its actions.
"They feel they are above the law," she said. "They feel they can ride roughshod over anyone who gets in their way."
UA President Peter Likins refused comment last night.
Jeffrey Arbetman, Kimball's attorney, said that the Supreme Court case will affect state university procedures.
"The case stands for the proposition that in any administrative agency... you have the right to have an attorney represent you," Arbetman said. "It's a very, very important decision from that perspective."
Arbetman declined to comment on Kay's case, but said the Supreme Court decision will affect legal proceedings as a whole.
"The university has always taken the position that an attorney cannot represent anyone (in administrative hearings)," he said. "A state administrative agency cannot take your right to due process away."
Erin Mahoney can be reached at Erin.Mahoney@wildcat.arizona.edu.