Paul L. Caron

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Vindicated Widener Law Prof Ordered to Undergo Psychiatric Evaluation

Connell 2 Following up on my prior posts (links below) on the allegation against Widener Law Prof Lawrence Connell, who was charged with racism and sexism for using violent hypotheticals involving Widener Dean Linda Ammons in his criminal procedure class:

The Volokh Conspiracy, Widener’s Dean Linda Ammons Doubles Down, by David Bernstein (Geore Mason):

The saga of Dean Ammons vendetta against Professor Lawrence Connell, revolving around trumped up charges of harassment and discrimination, gets more and more absurd. Having been almost entirely vindicated by a faculty committee, with the only remaining “charge” that he dared to rebut false accusations against himself publicly, Dean Ammons has recommended that Connell be suspended for a year without pay and be forced to undergo a psychiatric evaluation. Widener’s administration, apparently oblivious to the long-term damage this is doing to the law school’s and university’s reputation, agreed.

Legal Insurrection, Widener Law School Goes Soviet, Demands Law Professor Undergo Psychiatric Evaluation, by William Jacobson (Cornell):

[T]he only conduct of Connell himself which the committee found violated university policy were emails he sent to the student poplulation defending himself against false accusations of racism and sexism.

In a rational world, the university would seek no or minimal sanctions against Connell since he was completely vindicated of the underlying charges, so that his defense of himself in emails to students ultimately was proven to be valid.  But Dean Ammons recommended that the university suspend Connell for a year without pay, which the university accepted.

But Dean Ammons recommendation, accepted by the university, went much further, demanding that Connell submit to a psychiatric evaluation, undergo ”anger management” counseling, and issue an apology. ...

These conditions are as outrageous as Widener Law School’s underlying conduct in refusing to stand up to false accusations of racism and sexism made against Connell. There was no retaliation or “anger” expressed by Connell except the vigrous defense of what were proven to be false accusations.

Widener’s requirement of a psychiatric evaluation under these circumstances clearly is intended to further damage Connell even though the committee found no conduct which reflected any alleged psychiatric or anger management issues. Connell simply defended himself.

Widener Law School Dean Linda Ammons has done further damage to her law school and her own reputation by using psychiatry as a vindictive tool against a law professor whose worst crime was defending himself against false accusations of racism and sexism.

Legal Insurrection, Liberal Women, Conservative Men, and “Anger Management,” by William Jacobson (Cornell):

[D]efending oneself against potentially career-ending false accusaitons is a sign of mental illness, and requires “anger management” therapy, at least in the eyes of Dean Ammons.  Curiously, there is no indication that the female students who made the false accusations — and whose conduct in classes was disruptive and confrontational – will have similar preconditions placed on their continued matriculation at Widener Law School. ...

How convenient is the use of the “anger management” paradigm.   No matter how outrageous the conduct of the female students in making false accusations, or of Dean Ammons in facilitating the accusations, it was the male conservative law professor who had the anger management problem.

InstaPundit, Legal Education Update, by Glenn Reynolds (Tennessee)

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

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The wrong person is being ordered to get psychiatric evaluation.

Compare the railroading of this professor to the years of efforts that it took to get rid of Ward Churchill.

Posted by: Woody | Aug 6, 2011 9:15:37 PM

Ok, what the guy did wasn't illegal. The thing is, it still fits in the category of, "What kind of jerk wants to insist on his right to behave this way?" Really? Who would seriously give an exam using violent hypotheticals about a real person?

The behavior doesn't need to be legislated our outlawed, but I do think the guy needs counseling. He's indulging his love of drama in the classroom, with students who are paying tens of thousands of dollars to be there! This is terribly unprofessional and if I were a student at that school I'd transfer.

His fellow teachers should be insulted at his lack of professionalism, and horrified on behalf of the students who have to put up with him, not fighting over whether or not he broke a rule.

Posted by: Liz | Aug 7, 2011 5:31:00 PM

I remember liberal professors using such examples of President Bush. They were considered "clever."

Posted by: Woody | Aug 8, 2011 8:56:44 AM

liz - they guy was teaching criminal law. It is not unusual to use violent hypotheticals in a class like that because sometimes crime is violent. In hindsight, he shouldn't have used the dean as an example but using a violent hypothetical in a criminal law class isn't that out of the norm.

Posted by: anymouse | Aug 8, 2011 9:29:42 AM

I kill off the Tax Profs in my Insurance Exams. No student complaints yet.

Posted by: Rick Underwood | Aug 8, 2011 1:02:51 PM