University of Texas System Regent Wallace Hall's possible appearance before the legislative committee that is considering recommending his impeachment remains up in the air following a Thursday exchange between the parties' lawyers.
Allan Van Fleet, an attorney for the regent, requested that the co-chairs of the House Select Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations say whether or not Hall will be subpoenaed to testify at an upcoming hearing. Van Fleet noted that Hall's lawyers have counseled him "to not appear before the committee absent a subpoena." Van Fleet set an end-0f-day deadline for the answer.
"We're not going to adhere to his deadline," Rusty Hardin, the committee's special counsel, said minutes before the 5 p.m. cutoff passed. "He doesn't get to pick the time and place."
Neither Van Fleet nor Hall immediately responded requests for comment.
The committee — as instructed by Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio — is investigating whether or not Hall, who has been a controversial presence on the UT Board of Regents since his appointment in 2011, overstepped his authority with demands for information from UT-Austin, among other allegations. Hall has insisted that he was conducting legitimate investigations into troubling issues at the university and not, as has been alleged, engaging in a witch hunt aimed at ousting the president, Bill Powers.
The committee members have heard hours of testimony over the course of the last two months but have yet to hear from Hall directly. It remains unclear if they ever will.
At a hearing in November, they issued a subpoena for him to appear in early December. They quickly withdrew that request, citing a scheduling error. Hearings were rescheduled for Dec. 18 and 19, and subpoenas were issued for Powers and UT System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa. No subpoena was issued for Hall.
In his letter, Van Fleet noted that "this has caused confusion about the committee's intentions."
He also said that two weeks' notice is consistent with the committee's established standards, and that it was necessary to allow Hall to adequately prepare for the testimony. Van Fleet said Hall had been advised not to appear without being compelled because of "the sensitive nature of some issues that may be raised by the committee and the need for reasonable legal protection."
This is not the first time Hall's team has requested a subpoena. Hardin said the committee was still considering whether or not to issue Hall a subpoena or just an invitation.
"We'll discuss it among ourselves and get back to him," Hardin said. "He's the only guy I've ever seen who gives deadlines for when he will and will not comply with a legislative request."
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This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at http://www.texastribune.org/2013/12/05/ahead-hearings-ut-regent-hall-requests-subpoena/.