Paul L. Caron

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Gelbach: On Amy Wax’s Credibility And Conduct

Penn (2017)Folowing up on Wednesday's post, Penn Dean Denies Amy Wax's Claim That He Asked Her To Take Leave Due To Controversial Op-Ed:  The Daily Pennsylvanian op-ed:  On Amy Wax’s Credibility and Conduct, by Jonah B. Gelbach (Penn):

In the Evidence class I’m teaching, we’ve just finished discussing “impeachment” — how to challenge a witness’s credibility. Sometimes a trial lawyer may ask a witness about past conduct, because reasonable jurors may doubt a witness’s truthfulness today if they determine the witness has behaved deceitfully in the past.

That came to mind Tuesday when The Daily Pennsylvanian asked me to write a guest column about Professor Amy Wax’s recent Wall Street Journal op-ed. ...

Professor Wax’s WSJ op-ed characterizes conversations with several colleagues — and the Dean, who she claims caved to “pressure” to “banish” her by asking her “to take a leave of absence.” A news article in the DP quotes the law school’s spokesperson stating the Dean discussed Professor Wax’s regular sabbatical leave, which is one form of leave of absence under Penn’s policies.

I wasn’t involved in whatever communications occurred between Professor Wax and either Dean Theodore Ruger or our other colleagues. But her record of selective editing and behavior that contradicts her claimed principles have led me to distrust whatever Professor Wax won’t document in full. ...

I don’t know why Professor Wax has engaged in so much misleading conduct. Maybe it’s a clear-eyed scheme to con people who gullibly swallow any horror story about universities, maybe her feelings are hurt because so many colleagues rejected her statements so publicly, and maybe she has some other motivation.

Whatever her motivations, Professor Wax’s record of key omissions, misleading editing, and false quoting have led me to the opinion that her claims warrant no independent credence. Others in our community — the jurors of this situation — may decide for themselves whether to trust her word.

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Amy Wax is a productive and creative scholar. Penn has essentially destroyed whatever reputation it had with its conduct in this matter. That people like this keep attacking her shows how serious their problem is.

Posted by: Mike Livingston | Feb 25, 2018 4:45:25 AM