UL Lafayette attorneys' first attempt to challenge the $2 million judgment awarded former football coach Jerry Baldwin was snubbed yesterday in Baton Rouge by Nineteenth Judicial District Judge Don Johnson. The Oats and Hudson law firm had challenged the jury verdict on the basis that two jurors could not recall their answers to a series of 20 questions after the conclusion of the case.
Baldwin, whose record was 6-27 when he was let go in 2001, claims he was fired because he is black. In October 2007, a jury of six whites and six blacks voted 10-2 in favor of Baldwin, deciding that race was a factor -- though not the sole factor -- in his dismissal.
Johnson also ruled that UL should pay Baldwin's legal fees, which the former coach claims total $800,000. The judge did not decide on an amount yesterday because all appeals have not been exhausted.
UL was seeking a favorable ruling as part of its plan to appeal the verdict. "We are going to contest coach Baldwin's claim at every step in the process," UL attorney Steve Oats told The Advocate. The judge has not yet heard those arguments, in which UL is seeking to overturn the verdict or be granted a new trial -- neither of which is likely to happen.