Court asked to deny homophiles’ request
By BOB YUSKAVAGE
Collegian Junior Reporter
The University has prepared a court motion asking that attorneys for Homophiles of Penn State be forbidden from taking statements from two University officials today.
The motion claims the inquiry questioning is intended to “annoy and embarrass the University.”
Raymond O. Murphy, vice president for student affairs, was scheduled to give a public deposition in the Hetzel Union Building Assembly Room today.
HOPS attorney Lenny Sharon said he had already filed for two depositions in Centre County Court. A deposition is information obtained for court evidence by questioning. The law allows public depositions.
The other deposition was slated to be a private one given by University Trustee Benson Lichtig. It was set for 205 Sparks, the office of Assistant Professor of History Phillip Stebbins. Stebbins also serves as president of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Centre County chapter. ACLU took part in the suit on behalf of HOPS.
Murphy is one of several University officials named with the University as defendants in a complaint filed by HOPS Feb. 14. The suit charges the University with violation of the 14th Amendment and several civil rights acts in refusing to recognize a charter granted to HOPS by the Undergraduate Student Government Supreme Court.
Sharon told The Collegian that University lawyer Delbert McQuaide had contacted him by phone at his Pittsburgh office to inform him that the University would file a protective order to postpone the depositions until they can be argued.
The Centre County prothonotary yesterday said he had not seen the University motion on the record. Sharon said it will probably be filed today. He also said he and McQuaide agreed on May 22 as the argument date.
Giving several legal reasons for not taking depositions, the motion also states the depositions are sought in bad faith for the purpose of causing annoyance and embarrassment for the defendants.”
Sharon emphasized that the deposition is “not for embarrassment and oppression.” He said, “We feel students should be permitted to hear his (Murphy’s) reasons for denying HOPS their right to acquire a charter. We would agree to terminate or switch places if it is embarrassing to Murphy.”
“If Mr. Murphy’s position embarrasses him, I’m sorry,” Sharon said.
The HOPS lawyer said the request for a public deposition was filed because it is an integral part of one of the claims of HOPS’ suit.
Article 15 of the suit states Murphy’s position “is based on his suspicion and hostility towards the problems of gayness in general.”
The HOPS lawyer said he hopes the public deposition would reveal what he alleges to be Murphy’s “anti-gay feeling” which he said is part of a larger conspiracy denying HOPS their rights.
The University motion states HOPS is demonstrating “bad faith” because at Murphy’s scheduled appearance time in the HUB assembly room a women’s liberation group is also scheduled to use the room.
Concerning Lichtig’s deposition, Sharon said it was scheduled because he wants to “get on record the information Lichtig had obtained as USG president from previous meetings with Murphy.
The University objects to Lichtig’s deposition in Stebbins office since the ACLU participated in the suit on HOPS’ behalf.
Centre County Court Judge R. Paul Campbell said interrogation proceedings are not unusual, but that those proposed by HOPS are “very, very uncommon.”
He said the questioning is “usually done in a law office or in a small courtroom with specific questions on the topic and not one’s own opinions.”
The University motion requests the depositions be given in “a normal-sized room” with only parties involved present so that “an orderly and dignified atmosphere can be maintained.”
It also asks that the range of questions be limited, and that HOPS attorneys state the purpose of their questioning.