The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Morgan Shiver, Contributor • June 20, 2024
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Stay lifted in University Gardens case

Case will proceed in state district court in August

Judge Harlin D. Hale ruled Monday that the bankruptcy filing of Gerry Jetton played too small a role in the University Gardens litigation to delay it further and lifted a stay ordered by the state district court to allow the litigation to proceed.

Brad Cheves, SMU’s vice president for development and external affairs, said the judge’s ruling is “hopefully a step in ending the litigation and will make it possible for this to be resolved.”
Gary Vodicka, the man at the center of the original case, said he “fully expected [the judge] to do that.”

The ruling came Monday afternoon in a Northeastern District of Texas bankruptcy court. The case was originally before Judge Barbara Houser, but Vodicka said he filed a motion late Sunday to have the judge removed from the case because of her position as an adjunct professor in the Dedman School of Law.

Houser recused herself Monday morning and forwarded the case to Hale.
The next hearing in state district court has not been set yet, but both sides say it will be sometime in August.

The motion to move the case back to state district court ends one delay in the lengthy litigation over University Gardens and its role as a possible site for the George W. Bush Presidential Library.

SMU reiterated in court Monday that the site could be used for intramural fields or student housing, not just for the possible library.

Vodicka said that SMU is using “smoke screens and mirrors” in its effort to gain control of the property. He said that in a July 3 deposition, university comptroller John O’Connor said he had viewed plans that had the library on the University Gardens site.

Vodicka said he hopes that the 3-D model of the proposed library will be allowed to be shown as part of the district court trial because it would show SMU’s true intention for the property.

The next date of interest in the saga is August 4, when SMU, Vodicka and co-litigant Robert Talfel are scheduled to sit down for a mediation session. The June 27 session never occurred because Talfel and his lawyers were not able to attend.

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