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ND 88′ subpoenas former V.P.

Madeline Buckley | Thursday, September 30, 2010

A St. Joseph County judge is allowing the deposition of former associate vice president for Residence Life Bill Kirk in the case of 88 protesters, known as the “ND 88,” who were arrested for trespassing on campus during President Barack Obama’s visit in May 2009.

Judge Michael Scopelitis overruled a motion by the prosecution to prevent the subpoena of Kirk’s testimony, but did not allow the defense access to documents regarding Kirk’s employment status at the University, according to St. Joseph County Superior Court documents filed Sept. 20.

“The deposition of Bill Kirk was contested because much of the information the defendant sought related to Mr. Kirk’s departure from the Office of Student Affairs, which is irrelevant to the trespass cases,” University spokesman Dennis Brown said.

Kirk’s position as associate vice president was eliminated this summer. Vice President for Student Affairs Fr. Thomas Doyle told The Observer earlier this month that Kirk’s position was removed as a result of restructuring in the Office of Student Affairs.

During the demonstrations protesting Obama’s visit, Kirk oversaw the Notre Dame Security Police (NDSP) and was in charge of approving campus demonstrations.

The court order stipulates that the defense can ask Kirk why he no longer holds his administrative position at the University, but Kirk is not required to bring documents that deal with his employment status at Notre Dame.

The court document states that the Court reviewed Kirk’s and the University’s confidential separation agreement and found that it says nothing related to the criminal proceedings. Scopelitis ruled that Kirk is not obligated to disclose the document.

The Thomas More Society, a pro-life law center, is overseeing the trials of the 88 protesters, who are being charged with criminal trespass.

A Thomas More Society press release states that the defense is seeking testimony from Kirk in order to ask questions about different treatment given to protesters involved in various protests on campus.

The defense has argued that the ND 88 were subject to “viewpoint discrimination,” which the defense is claiming is a violation of the First Amendment, according to the release. ND 88 attorneys contend that the University did not file charges against protestors in past demonstrations.

In a statement released in April, University President Fr. John Jenkins said NDSP gave the protesters several warnings to disperse, as the University has clear rules for campus demonstrations.

“Some have incorrectly suggested that having the protestors arrested means we are hostile to the pro-life position. But, the University cannot have one set of rules for causes we oppose, and another more lenient set of rules for causes we support. We have one consistent set of rules for demonstrations on campus — no matter what the cause,” Jenkins said in the statement.

The student handbook, du Lac, states that campus demonstrations must be peaceful, non-disruptive and registered in writing with the associate vice president of Residence Life — who was Kirk at the time.

Kirk’s deposition will be taken at a date to be determined.