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Judge sanctions Pepper Hamilton for 'knowingly violating a court order' in Baylor investigation

A federal judge found Pepper Hamilton "knowingly violated a court order" when it failed to turn over materials related to the Baylor sexual assault investigation
Credit: AlessandroPhoto / iStock

AUSTIN, Texas — A federal judge in Austin found the law firm Baylor University hired to look into its handling of sexual assault allegations "knowingly violated a court order" when it failed to turn over evidence to plaintiffs who sued the university. 

The ruling comes after a hearing Monday during which Judge Robert Pitman heard arguments from the plaintiff's lawyers and the law firm Pepper Hamilton over whether Pepper Hamilton prepared a report on its Baylor investigation, and if the firm could show why it shouldn't face sanctions after failing to comply with a discovery order.

Pitman wrote in his ruling that "Pepper Hamilton's conduct in violation of the Court's orders is so 'clear, direct, weighty and convincing' that the Court reaches this conclusion with clear conviction and without hesitancy."

Pitman ordered Pepper Hamilton to pay all of the plaintiff's expenses needed to file the motion, including attorney's fees.

Pitman also ordered Pepper Hamilton to turn over all materials dated, created or received between Jan. 1, 2003 and Nov. 6, 2017 to a third party vendor.

Pitman said Baylor, Pepper Hamilton and the plaintiffs must agree on the third party vendor and notify the Court no later than June 28.

RELATED: Judge orders law firm to release thousands of documents in Baylor sexual assault cases

The judge also ruled Baylor could assert attorney-client privilege and work product privilege for materials dated from June 15, 2016-Nov. 6, 2017, which includes the "other matters" that Pepper Hamilton worked on in addition to the investigation.

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