Judge Rebukes UF in Ruling on Expert Testimony Policy

TALLAHASSEE -- A federal district judge in Tallahassee has blocked the University of Florida from enforcing a conflict-of-interest policy that gave administrators the authority to block professors from serving as expert witnesses in lawsuits.

Judge Mark Walker called the policy pernicious in a 74-page opinion. He said it violated faculty members' First Amendment rights.

Three political science professors -- Sharon Austin, Daniel Smith and Michael McDonald -- sued after the university denied their requests to testify for groups challenging the elections law passed by the Legislature in 2021.

The professors and other plaintiffs, argued that the university’s conflict-of-interest policy unconstitutionally discriminates based on viewpoint and content, and that it has a “chilling” effect.

A spokesman for the university says it's reviewing Walker's order and will "determine our next steps."

Information from the News Service of Florida was used in this report.

Photo: Canva

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