Judge dismisses Mike Leach's defamation lawsuit against Craig James and ESPN

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor

Is this the end of the line of the legal issues that preceded the coach's hiring at WSU?

A judge dismissed the last of Mike Leach's pending lawsuits stemming from Leach's December 2009 firing at Texas Tech, denying Leach's claim of defamation and granting a summary judgement on Wednesday in favor of defendants Craig James, ESPN and Spaeth Communications.

Judge Bill Sowder of the 99th district court in Lubbock, Texas, did not explain in his one-page letter ruling exactly why he granted the summary judgment, which is when a judge issues a ruling on the case based on its merits in lieu of a full trial.

Leach earlier had a lawsuit against Texas Tech dismissed by the same judge, with the Texas Supreme Court eventually declining to hear Leach's appeal back in February 2012. This would seem to imply that Leach has the right to appeal this summary judgment if he so chooses, but I'm not a lawyer, I just play one on the internet.

That suit against the TTU was considered a longshot to begin with, given Texas' now-well-publicized sovereign immunity clause that apparently allows government entities to do pretty much anything they want. The fact that the defamation lawsuit went on this long leads me to believe that Leach had more of a case here, but ultimately the outcome was the same: No trial.

Still, Leach accomplished some of what he set out to do, which is set the record straight. His best-selling book, Swing Your Sword, helped tell that story, including a lengthy appendix that documented a lot of email communications between James, the university and Spaeth which, even if it didn't rise to the level of legal defamation, sure didn't make any of the involved parties look very good.

I'm sure there will be some WSU fans who will be excited to know that the coach can now focus solely on winning football games. Unless he appeals. Then those people can continue their grumbling, I guess!

EDIT -- 8/9, 11:00 a.m.: It does appear that Leach intends to appeal. Hooray, long and drawn out legal cases!

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