Sixth Judicial District Judge Patrick Grady said Wednesday he hopes to rule by the end of the week on a request to have open depositions in a lawsuit involving the University of Iowa.
At a hearing Wednesday morning in Johnson County District Court, Grady heard arguments from attorneys on both sides of the case.
Rockne Cole, attorney for suspended UI professor Malik Juweid, argued the depositions in Juweid’s lawsuit should be public, since the case involves employees of a public university and it is a whistleblower case that involve matters of the public good.
“You should always start with a presumption of openness and a presumption of transparency,” Cole said. “It is an urgent matter with significant public concern at stake.”
George Carroll, Iowa assistant attorney general representing the UI, said the media should not be present at this stage because it could distract the lawyers or lead to attempts to play the media during discovery depositions. This case also involves employment matters, so confidential employee records likely will be discussed, Carroll said.
“There’s just no precedent to have the press during discovery,” Carroll said.
Grady said expanded media coverage of the depositions — allowing cameras, photography or recording devices — is not up for discussion, as the court can only rule on allowing expanded media coverage for court proceedings. So the real question is one of public access to the depositions, Grady said.
Numerous UI officials, including President Sally Mason, are scheduled to be deposed in the case.
Juweid, a tenured professor of radiology, filed his lawsuit against the university and numerous UI officials in May, claiming discrimination and retaliation by supervisors and colleagues. The university has denied the claims and says Juweid sent dozens of harassing and unprofessional emails to colleagues. He has been on paid leave since January for alleged “disruptive behaviors.”
Juweid also claims he is being targeted after urging UI Hospitals and Clinics to stop performing what he considers medically unnecessary tests on children.