TaxProf Blog

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

Monday, March 14, 2016

Alumni Call For Firing Former UC-Berkeley Law School Dean From His Tenured Faculty Position In Wake Of Sexual Harassment Complaint

UC Berkeley (2016)Following up on Thursday's post, UC-Berkeley Law School Dean Resigns After Being Sued For Sexual Harassment:  Brian Leiter (Chicago), Berkeley Law Grads, Apparently Having Learned Nothing About Due Process During Their Legal Education, Call For Ex-Dean Choudhry to be Fired From His Tenured Faculty Position:

This is really disgraceful for a bunch of alleged adults and lawyers, to call for the firing of a tenured faculty member based on a university investigation and a complaint, the latter of which is obviously not an adequate basis on which to base any conclusions.  I agree that the university investigation should have been sufficient to remove him from his role as the Dean, but the demand that he be fired from Berkeley "in any capacity" is shocking. ...

Was there an offense adequate for the revocation of tenure?  Perhaps, but right now, we have no idea, and the Berkeley law graduates should be embarrassed by their contempt for process and fairness.

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Due process has no application here whatsoever. We are not talking about an indictment, we are talking about an institution making a determination if a person has upheld its values. No different than sponsors pulling away from Donald Trump after racist remarks. I think implicit in the call for the guy to be fired from his faculty position is an assumption that there is some merit to the harassment allegations. If the school comes out and proves it is all made up, then I doubt anyone now protesting would still want him fired.

In my opinion, you don't get to sexually harass a person once. Especially a subordinate. It appears he did it a few times. I hope they fire him.

Posted by: JM | Mar 14, 2016 12:00:58 PM

Why should they be embarrassed? Their expressions of shock and dismay, and their calls for remediation of the former dean's behavior, are both protected by the 1st Amendment.

Sounds like your argument for "due process" is just a facade for the defense of tenure.

Posted by: Kneave Riggall | Mar 14, 2016 2:17:44 PM

Tenure includes a contractual right to termination for cause, which imposes due process requirements.

No one said the letter violates the First Amendment, it obviously does not. But it betrays a contempt for the value of due process in ascertaining culpability, a value one might have hoped law students would learn.

But now a question for Paul Caron: why do you approve idiotic comments like the preceding?

Posted by: Brian | Mar 14, 2016 6:40:55 PM

Has anyone looked at the possible racism in this case? "He made me feel dirty . . . my hair started falling out." That's a bizarre basis to want to fire someone, in my opinion.

Posted by: mike livingston | Mar 14, 2016 9:59:26 PM

@ Brian,

The factual investigation has already concluded. The former dean is on record admitting to repeatedly touching this woman, including hugs, kisses, putting her hands on his waist, caressing her hand, etc. Again, he ADMITTED to it.

The only question here is what standard to apply to such behavior. The signatories, as well as myself, believe this is harassment and cause for termination. I also think tenure protection is irrelevant. Tenure exists to protect against termination for ideological differences and speaking out against the university. Why should it protect those who violate a sexual harassment policy?

Posted by: JM | Mar 15, 2016 11:29:43 AM