Candidate Craig James goes to court over Texas Tech books

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by BRAD WATSON

WFAA

Posted on January 31, 2012 at 11:15 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jan 31 at 11:22 PM

While former ESPN analyst Craig James campaigns for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate, an attorney for him Tuesday started a parallel campaign in a Collin County courtroom.

James claims he's been defamed by books about the firing of Texas Tech football coach Mike Leach which followed an incident involving James' son, Adam. James wants a judge to order the publishers to answer questions that could lead to a lawsuit.

But it could also lead to conflicting images of James in the campaign, bringing to mind a past controversy as he tries to send a positive message to Texas voters.

As James tells voters what he'd do in Washington, he's still disputing what led to the Leach's 2009 firing in Lubbock.

But Leach's lawyer, Ted Liggett, says something else is going on. "This has been nothing more than an attempt by him to get out in front of this negative press for his senatorial campaign," he said.

Diversion Publishing in New York published Leach's book, "Swing Your Sword." Scottsdale Book Publishing in Arizona offered "Double T Double Cross" by Michael Lee Lanning.

As he started his senate campaign in December, James hinted in a WFAA interview he'd be responding to allegations in the books — even though many Tech fans, who vote, are still mad at him.

"We have respected Adam and what he had done at his career at Tech," James said. "Now that that is over with, the truth is going to be nailed home."

In a statement his campaign released after Tuesday's hearing, James said: "Some political gurus might look at this legal process as an unnecessary distraction in the midst of a campaign, but the timing is irrelevant because it's a simple matter of right and wrong. Running for Senate actually fuels my passion to fight for what's right and, in this case, that's standing up to a bully who was wrongly abusing my son. I would hope that any father would have done the same for his child."

James says Tech fired Leach over a contract dispute, and not for his complaints — as he says the books allege — that Leach punished James' son, Adam, following a concussion by forcing him into a closet.

James claims the books spread falsehoods, and the candidate's attorney, Mike Farris, told a Collin County judge he wants to depose the publishers.

"Trying to get some information as to the background of the allegations that were made in the book against him to determine whether or not there was investigation that was properly done," Farris said.

But the publishers say their books are accurate, based in large part on sworn statements.

Attorney Monica Latin represents Scottsdale Book Publishing. "Scottsdale certainly stands behind its book, and believes that the court will do the right thing and dismiss the petition," she said.

But before there are any depositions or arguments before a judge, the publishers are challenging whether a Texas court can even order a person out of state to submit to questioning before a lawsuit. The judge set a hearing on that for March 7.

E-mail bwatson@wfaa.com

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