The Houston-based lawyer who has served as Mike Leach’s lead attorney asked the state Supreme Court on Wednesday to allow him to quit — and in a short interview with The Avalanche-Journal, would not comment when asked why.
Paul Dobrowski submitted his motion to withdraw as lead counsel for Leach in a letter to the court, adding he had Leach’s consent to withdraw from the former Texas Tech coach’s pending legal cases against Tech, ESPN, Craig James and the Spaeth Communications public relations firm.
In a brief phone call with The A-J, Dobrowski repeatedly said “nope” when asked to comment on his decision to leave and how it would affect Leach’s cases.
With the high court’s approval, Lubbock-based attorneys Ted Liggett and Christopher Ritter would serve as lead attorneys for Leach.
Liggett said he was not surprised by Dobrowski’s withdrawal.
He would not comment as to why the attorney withdrew, but added Dobrowksi was not pressured to leave and did so on good terms.
“Paul Dobrowski and his firm did wonderful work for us on the Mike Leach case against Texas Tech, Craig James, ESPN and Spaeth Communication,” he said. “His withdrawal has no effect on the case.”
Liggett said he did not believe Dobrowski’s resignation shows signs of weakness in Leach’s case against the university or those affiliated with James, father of the former Tech football player Adam James whom Leach was accused of mistreating in 2009.
“We’re going to continue on zealously representing Mike in this case,” Liggett said.
Dicky Grigg, general counsel for Tech, said Dobrowski’s withdrawal came as a surprise to the Tech camp, adding he did not know why Dobrowski resigned.
He said it was not clear what impact, if any, Dobrowski’s departure would have on the case or if his leaving was a telling sign of the Leach team’s confidence in the cases as they wait for a decision from the Supreme Court of Texas.
“I think that just remains to be seen,” he said.
The struggle between Tech and Leach began after Tech fired the head football coach in December 2009. Craig James, an ESPN football commentator at the time, complained to university officials Leach had forced his son, who had a concussion, to stand in a shed and electrical closet during two pre-bowl-game practices.
Leach denied any wrongdoing and sued the university and several of its individual administrators for what he claimed was a conspiracy to oust him following a heated contract renegotiation in early 2009.
Leach’s lawyers countered Tech’s attempts to invoke sovereign immunity by claiming Tech waived its right to it by violating its own operating procedure.
District Court Judge Bill Sowder backed Leach when he permitted the breach-of-contract case to proceed after trimming from the suit a variety of other claims leveled by Leach. But the appellate court reversed Sowder’s ruling.
This fall, the Texas Supreme Court asked Tech and Leach’s attorneys to provide legal briefs as it works to make a decision regarding Tech’s request to invoke sovereign immunity.
From the briefs, the state’s highest court will decide if it will hold with the Seventh Court of Appeals decision from January. In a 22-page decision, the Amarillo-based appellate court threw out a state district court’s earlier ruling to allow Leach to sue the university.
Leach’s related cases against James, ESPN and Spaeth are pending, considered stayed, until the Supreme Court makes a ruling.
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