Plea filed in 79th District Court

Nicole D. Perez, Alice Echo-News Journal

A plea seeking the review and release of Coastal Bend College documents contained on two discs in the 79th District Court was recently filed on behalf of Alice Echo-News Journal reporter Christopher Maher.

The DVDs were released to Maher in May under the Freedom of Information Act, but have since been returned to the court pending an August hearing.

The plea of intervention recently filed seeks that a request by CBC to seal the records be denied, seeks the prevention of the destruction of the two DVDs, asks that the court, or a receiver, examine the contents of the DVDs and catalog their contents and allow Maher access to the information on the DVDs that fall under Open Records law.

The DVDs were first placed in the custody of the court by Anthony Sanders, who was the college network supervisor at the time, in February and contain emails, financial records, spreadsheets and presentations of Kathlyn Patton, director of personnel for CBC.

Sanders contends he was asked by Patton to back-up the files, but then he suspected the files were being destroyed.

Some of the files on the discs may pertain to charges of discrimination filed against the college by former employees.

According to the plea of intervention, "CBC has followed a pattern and practice of discrimination and of driving older Anglo female employees out of the college, and selecting younger male or Hispanic employees to replace them, often without following college policies for posting position openings and using selection committees."

The plea also contends, "Kathlyn Patton and others at CBC have (allegedly) destroyed or concealed the information on those discs, so that the information is not otherwise available.

"Therefore, the documents and other information on file with the Jim Wells County District Clerk must be preserved and produced as appropriate."

CBC officials and their attorney, Phillip McKinney, contend the DVDs contain client-attorney privileged information and should not be released.

But, by the college's own admission, only a fraction of the documents on the discs may contain privileged information.

The plea states, "CBC, through its attorney, alleged that over 10,000 documents exist on the two DVDs. Of these, less than 1,000 are even alleged by CBC to contain non-discoverable material."

Maher is represented by Alice attorney Mike Appell.