TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Friday, April 8, 2011

Law Prof Sues Dean for Defamation


National Association of Scholars, Widener Law Prof Sues Dean for Defamation:

Today Lawrence Connell, the professor who was suspended from teaching at the Widener University law school after two students complained about the examples he used in his first-year criminal law course, filed suit for defamation against the law school dean, Linda  Ammons.
On February 24, 2011, Dean Ammons submitted a Statement of Reasons for Dismissal for Cause for Professor Connell. The allegations accused him of exhibiting racism and sexism in his teaching, among other charges. On March 7, a committee set up to investigate these charges determined that the University should withdraw the Dismissal for Cause action. On March 16, Connell’s lawyer Thomas Neuberger issued a press release stating that Dean Ammons had chosen to disregard the recommendation and had ordered the two students to re-file their complaints against Connell. ...
[T]he case will now go to a university hearing ... It is in light of this impending hearing and Professor Connell’s view that he will inevitably be fired that he is bringing this lawsuit today. He believes Dean Ammons is seeking to remove him because he is a conservative, a belief he explains in his interview with NAS. Professor Connell denied all charges against him in his 39-page affidavit and regarding the allegation of racism, he states in today’s press release:
As a volunteer lawyer I fought for 10 years and saved the life of a condemned Black man sitting on death row waiting to be executed who had been convicted by an all White jury from whom the prosecutor had excluded all African-Americans. No man who fights without pay to save the life of a Black man is a racist and Ammons knows this but she declared me to be a racist anyway to get rid of me and cleanse her liberal law school of one of its only two conservative law professors out of over 60 faculty. ...

One of the examples that Professor Connell used in class which was cited by the two students as offensive was his illustration of the difference between murder and intent to murder. He constructed a “hypothetical” in which he becomes outraged that Dean Ammons has stolen his parking spot, goes to her office to kill her, but instead shoots a pumpkin that has been disguised to look like her. 

Orin Kerr, a leading criminal law professor who teaches at George Washington University and blogs at The Volokh Conspiracy, has written an affidavit testifying that using hypotheticals such as the one above is a standard practice among criminal law professors.

(Hat Tip: InstaPundit.) Prior TaxProf Blog posts:

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Wow, this keeps getting better and better. Please continue to keep us updated Professor Caron, for it is entertaining (unless, of course, you are one of the parties involved)!

Posted by: Kona | Apr 8, 2011 12:12:07 PM