LARAMIE – Last week, The University of Wyoming handed over at least some of the personnel file of Laurie Nichols to the former president, according to a Friday court filing from UW’s attorney.
Nichols had formally requested her file October 3, and UW provided some of the file October 29.
However, that court filing implied that Nichols was denied some access; Friday’s filing indicates UW only “provided Dr. Nichols with copies of documents to which she is entitled” under a portion of the Wyoming Public Records Act that states a public employee shall be entitled to the “applications, performance ratings and scholastic achievement data” that are contained in a personnel file.
Nichols is attempting to become a party in the legal review, requested by a few Wyoming news organizations, on UW’s decision to deny a records request concerned documents related Nichols’s ouster as president.
The former UW president, who currently serves as interim president of Black Hills State University, has asked Albany County district court Judge Tori Kricken to show her certain documents that have been submitted for private review by the judge.
Nichols has been named as a finalist for the presidency at University of North Dakota and the position of executive vice chancellor for academic affairs at University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Kricken is currently tasked with deciding whether UW will be required to hand over to news organizations certain documents, including emails among university trustees, as well as records of a supposed investigation into Nichols’s conduct.
The court review of the records request was initiated by the Casper Star-Tribune, Wyofile, the Laramie Boomerang and their parent companies.
Nichols’s attempt to join the case has not been opposed by UW. However, the university’s attorney said in a Friday court filing that Kricken should not “provide Dr. Nichols with documents before the court rules on whether any such documents are subject to disclosure to petitioners under the Public Records Act.”
“The Public Records Act does not contemplate any such relief,” the attorneys wrote.
While the petition was first filed in June, Nichols attempted to join in the lawsuit after it became apparent at a Oct. 8 hearing that Kricken was likely to imminently make a ruling.
Bruce Moats, attorney for the relevant new organizations, has asked Kricken to block Nichols from joining the lawsuit.
Moats said Nichols’s request to Kricken “promises to significantly delay the resolution of this matter.”
“This court would have to hear and grant her motion to intervene, then allow to review the records for some period, and then decide whether she would offer objections. The parties then must have the opportunity to respond,” Moats noted.