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Attorney wants UND choir director dismissal hearing stopped

The attorney for a University of North Dakota choir director wants a judge to halt an appeal hearing and start the process over. In a petition filed in Grand Forks District Court, Henry Howe argues the hearing for Anthony Reeves is unfair and in ...

The attorney for a University of North Dakota choir director wants a judge to halt an appeal hearing and start the process over.

In a petition filed in Grand Forks District Court, Henry Howe argues the hearing for Anthony Reeves is unfair and in violation of state Board of Higher Education policies.

Committee members who will recommend whether Reeves will keep his job are not trained in law and need a hearing officer to advise them, Howe said.

"I think we have to start over," Howe said Tuesday. "The process has been so tainted at this point and so damaged, that we would literally have to recall every witness."

Committee members have heard testimony on five days since the appeal hearing began Nov. 7. More than 30 witnesses have yet to testify.

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Doug Munski, chairman of the five-member faculty committee, said late Tuesday he was not aware of the court action. The committee is trying hard to conduct a fair hearing, he said.

"We are an advisory body; we favor neither the institution nor Dr. Reeves," Munski said.

Howe could have brought up his concern long before the appeal hearing began, but did not, Munski said.

Last week, the committee unanimously denied a motion from Howe to appoint an officer to advise the committee or preside over the hearing.

Munski said the word "shall" in the policy, rather than "will," indicates the committee is not required to appoint an officer.

Howe disputes the committee's interpretation of "shall," and says the committee's ruling resulted in an uneven playing field for Reeves.

"Clearly they (committee members) are trying to do the right thing and they're trying to be fair, but they don't have the legal resources," Howe said.

In the motion, Howe asks a judge to suspend the hearing unless the committee appoints a qualified hearing officer. A judge had not reviewed the petition on Tuesday.

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UND officials placed Reeves on administrative leave at the beginning of the year, citing a pattern of unacceptable behavior.

Reeves has said he believes his homosexuality and his attempt to adopt a student are undercurrents in the recommendation to fire him.

The hearing is scheduled to resume Friday evening.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Amy Dalrymple at (701) 241-5590

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