University of Chicago Professor Accuses Colorado Law Professor Of Threatening Him With Embarrassing Disclosures in Leong Controversy

camposLeiterBrianWe have been discussing the effort of University of Denver law professor Nancy Leong to have the Illinois bar punish an anonymous poster called “Dybbuk” who criticized her on a blog as well as other female law professors. Now, University of Chicago Professor Brian Leiter (right) has added a rather bizarre twist to this story on his blog. Professor Leiter says that Professor Paul F. Campos (left) has threatened him not to reveal the identity of the poster targeting Nancy Leong with the disclosure of unspecified embarrassing information on Leiter. [Update: Professor Campos has responded]

Leiter published the following e-mail that he says came from Campos:

From: Paul F Campos [mailto:paul.campos@Colorado.EDU]

Sent: Tuesday, December 31, 2013 11:03 AM

To: Leiter, Brian

Subject: Dybbuk


I have been asked by somebody who has passed on (unsolicited) some potentially very embarrassing personal information about you to me, regarding your activities in cyberspace and some related goings-on in the real world, to make this information public, should you choose to “out” Dybbuk.


Leiter has had a history of angry exchanges with Campos, who he accused of supporting cyber-harassment and sexism.

This is a very serious allegation and there is no confirmation that Campos sent the email or that it was not meant sent in jest or for ironic emphasis. Leiter has raised the question of possible criminal elements of blackmail or intimidation or extortion. He later notes, as suggested by a supporter, that the email could contravene the following statutory provision: “A person commits intimidation when, with intent to cause another to perform or to omit the performance of any act, he or she communicates to another, directly or indirectly by any means, a threat to perform without lawful authority any of the following acts…(3) Expose any person to hatred, contempt, or ridicule….”

He notes that there is no evidence that Dybbuk put up Campos to make the veiled threat. That could become a matter of inquiry for the bar. It would be an ironic twist since some of us have been critical of the complaint as threatening free speech values. However, he also says that a person posting under the name Dybbuk stated that “I had no prior knowledge of Paul Campos’s alleged [sic] email to Brian Leiter, and do not approve of it.”

I have not see a response from Campos. If this was meant as a threat and shown to have been sent by Campos, it could raise serious ethical questions for him with his own bar and with his faculty. One can debate the criminality of the communication, but it certainly contravenes principles of ethical and professional conduct to threaten people with embarrassing disclosures if they make information public. While there is a basis to criticize the stripping of anonymity in such a case, it is not a crime for Leiter to do so and, since it is based on public information, it is not likely a violation of privacy laws. Conversely, this alleged threat is tied to an ongoing ethics complaint and seeking to force silence through the threat of harmful or embarrassing disclosures. Of course, Campos could argue that he is only demonstrating the unfair nature of Leiter’s very public debate over whether to “out” the poster in the Leong dispute.

What do you think?

Source: Leiter

Kudos: John Banzhaf

45 thoughts on “University of Chicago Professor Accuses Colorado Law Professor Of Threatening Him With Embarrassing Disclosures in Leong Controversy

  1. Children….. Children….. Until you can play like the FBI, dea, NSA….. You will not be allowed to play together…..

  2. I did investigations for a city attorney who represented a municipality in a popular Wi. tourist area. Many of the business owners and some of the politicians have Chicago roots so they came up to this resort area w/ lots of baggage, as it were. During the busy vacation season there was little turmoil. But, when the winter set in and these folks had a lot of time on their hands the political horseshit quickly became hip deep. I hate those investigation because it was all pettiness. Seems like the law school profs have way too much time on their hands. Maybe they need to be assigned some other duties; shoveling sidewalks, cleaning bathrooms, etc.

  3. The Dean should sit Prof. Campos down and request a full explanation of what he did and why before this nonsense turns into a law suit.

  4. Are law professors in the US on something the rest of us should know about? They seem to be having some problems.

  5. I contacted Leiter because I assumed he would want to know that someone is trying to get me (and perhaps other people with media platforms) to participate in this person’s scheme to embarrass him. And of course this person might act on his or her own.

    In his characteristically dishonest fashion, Leiter is failing to mention that he has already “outed” Dybbuk on at least two occasions, by publicizing Dybbuk’s real name on two different internet fora.

    Amusingly, Leiter ran a poll on his law school blog, soliciting opinions on whether he should do something (disclose the identity of a pseudonymous internet critic) which he had in fact already done. The anonymous person who contacted me was apparently unaware of this, and, since I did not respond to the message, I didn’t correct that mistaken impression.

  6. “Brian,

    I have been asked by somebody who has passed on (unsolicited) some potentially very embarrassing personal information about you to me, regarding your activities in cyberspace and some related goings-on in the real world, to make this information public, should you choose to “out” Dybbuk.



    Personally, I am more concerned about the grammar of an educator, or lack thereof, than anything involving the content. If you can make “heads or tails” out of this mess of a threat/warning, please let me know.

  7. davidtarrell:

    “While it is difficult to know the motivations behind original Campos’ email ….”

    The motivation isn’t so vaporous to me. It seems Prof. Campos doesn’t like Prof. Leiter.

  8. It appears there is a culture of sexism and harassment in law schools among it’s professors. Shameful.

    Higher standards, indeed. What higher standards?

  9. Yes, turn your head when you see something unpleasant, shameful and wrong. Do not speak out about it, your silence is tacit agreement that it’s alright.

  10. It is difficult from the article to sort out who is who and all that. This could be made into a sitcom called trivial pursuits and then we could delve into how little positive impact some of these schmucks have on a student population which they serve. A Feminism Blog? At this late stage of he game? I could see the use of it fifty years ago. Why not a Macho Male Blog? Too many law students spoil the broth. That is the problem with the profession and the law schools. Too many schools, too many students per school, way too many so called professors. They want to be called “professors” because they are all too aware of the old adage: Those who can: do. Those who can’t: teach. Those who cant teach: teach teachers.

    Ever notice how so many of those professors who profess to know the law have never practiced law? Ask your staff at your school how many have tried a jury trial in a criminal case to verdict. You will likely get none who have. How does one profess to teach law if one has never been there or done that? Oh, yeah, they went to an Ivy League School. Try that out on an Ivy League Jury. They don’t exist. This is what is wrong with most of the schmucks on the U.S. Supreme Court. Ivy League then law clerk for district court judge or appellate court judge, then two years with some attorney general job in DC and then onto the DC Court of Appeals and viola, appointed to the Supreme Court. All of these schmucks on there now went to Ivy League schools if ya count Stanford and none of them has ever tried a jury trial case representing a defendant. Some were trial judges but never represented a client in a criminal jury trial case. If you listen to the oral arguments on CSPAN you here 6 of 9 voices that sound like Brooklyn. Woof, growl, woof this apCray.

  11. I see Prof. Leiter is now saying that he is the victim of “blackmail” or some similar offense because of the email and that should maybe “out” the supposed tormenter of our fair, Prof. Leong. This should be good theater as the defamation per se rants are sure to follow. These guys make me glad I served my three years and got out of the scholar’s village. You can follow the sandbox dispute here:

    This is why some regular folks hate lawyers — the boundless hubris on display.

  12. Barkin Dog is, of course, correct, although I feel that his/her criticism of the lack of jury trial experience among members of the bench should not be limited to criminal trials. Also, I take exception to his name calling as it relates to the Supreme Court. It could all have been stated in a much more civil and responsible manner.

  13. I am one of several lawyers I know of, who received e-mails from Brian Leiter telling me that he had my e-mail, my IP address and threatening consequences if I continued to post on law school economics topics, including publishing my name and contacting unspecified people.

    Leiter is pretty hypocritical here. I certainly saw his e-mail as clear blackmail threat as did all I forwarded it to. It is nice that Leiter now sees this as a discipline issue for a law school – maybe I’ll contact the Dean of Chicago….

  14. This thread is really going down hill, with anonymous allegations, no supporting evidence, nothing. As I remember it, it was precisely Paul Campos who claimed Leiter had sent a “threatening” e-mail to some lawyer, but even he didn’t claim it was blackmail. He also didn’t produce the e-mail, so we just had to trust Paul, and Leiter said at the time Campos was lying (anyone who cares can search Leter’s blog, it was at least a year ago). And it had nothing to do with discussions of “law school economics.” It turned out this “lawyer” posted all over the law blogs with the handle “Brian Leiter’s Ugly Face” or something equally charming. Hard to imagine why someone might take offense at someone using a handle like that, huh? Leiter had a good Huffington Post column about how anyone who criticizes the law school scam bloggers is subjected to abuse: Leiter has been out front on this, so….

  15. One of the lawyers to have received threatening e-mails used the half Brian Leiter’s Rotting Teeth – I was not BLRT – several lawyers received threatening e-mails from Leiter.

    Someone (not me) worked out that one of Leiter’s sock puppet pseudonyms was Aduren (Neruda in reverse) and as they posted, hacked an anonymous web-mail account of Leiter under the Aduren handle with the password Neruda (only Leiter thinks he is intelligent.) I am guessing, but not certain, that what the threatening e-mail relayed by Campos referred to is whatever this person found in the Aduren webmail account (or maybe more.) At the time they said that the information (e-mails in and out) made it undeniable that Aduren was Leiter. At a bare guess, Leiter was forwarding drafts to the Aduren account that he then posted as Aduren (and other names.)

    Leiter has also engaged via sock puppets in attacks against fellow profs at Chicago, notably, but not limited to Richard Posner. I am not sure what the e-mailer to Campos has (genuinely), but I suspect it is related to Leiter’s pseudonymous activity in internet fora. It may have to do with law, or philosophy – who knows, but Leiter and the mystery guest.

    Frankly, Campos giving Leiter the “heads-up” was doing the decent thing. My dealings with Leiter have taught me that the decent thing, or decency – is beyond Leiter’s understanding. He genuinely is a low little man.

    And yes he threatened me and others seeking to silence them. When Leiter says that anyone who ” how anyone who criticizes the law school scam bloggers is subjected to abuse” he did not mention the abuse that he has engaged in, or orchestrated – some of which has been pretty outrageous. I will give BW the benefit of the doubt, and assume that he is not one of Leiter’s sock-puppet personas (or Steve Diamond’s), but he needs to know more about the history here.

  16. BW – I will go further – I am not the “this lawyer” you describe. I am one of numerous others to have been threatened by Brian Leiter after he obtained identity information. He pretty evidently obtained this information from the website where his co-blogger on his own website Dan Filler is the manager. A few months ago a professor/guest blogger on the faculty lounge informed me that the e-mails and IP addresses of posters to that website remain open to all guest bloggers (a situation that persists though Filler promised to fix it.)

    Given that the forum had just a little while earlier run a thread called VAP-Trap to which visiting associate professors had been encouraged to post about their experiences, all while hoping for a tenure track offer – there was considerable consternation at the choice of the Faculty Lounge to make identities so open. They promised to fix that – as of a few weeks ago (and almost a year after the row), vindictive schmucks still have full access.

    As it happens, when Leiter launched into his campaign of sending threatening e-mails, invoking senior partners, managing partners and professors, a number of those who were threatened compared notes and e-mails and zeroed in on the Faculty Lounge as the source of the leaks to Leiter. Campos was involved in that “triangulation,” because many of those sent the threats contacted him and Deborah Merritt and Kyle McEntee Nonetheless, it is absolutely true that Leiter engaged in a campaign of blackmail, of threatening all sorts of lawyers – partners in law firms, public defenders, etc., with disclosing their identities unless they became silent on the issue of law school debt, law school tuition, and the misstatement by law schools of career outcomes.

    BH – you evidently are one of Leiter’s odious little crew. The Leiter style comment is a bit of a giveaway “hey they are anonymous – why should we believe them… make them tell us their names [so I BH can stalk them.]” Have you noticed, you are anonymous too … wonder why?

  17. Common Sense Person – have you been stalked by Leiter and his pals?

    When you have, you might get an idea of why one of Leiter’s targets would make a point of hitting Leiter and everyone of his cronies every time they present their version of the truth.

  18. @common sense person practice what you preach and shut up.. zipser has a right to speak to his mind.. if you dont like it.. then dont read it….

  19. Zipser: I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you’re not “Brian Leiter’s Rotting Teeth” back to make trouble—though you do seem a bit obsessed given how quicky, and how often, you reply. What aren’t you telling us? Are you part of Campos’s odious crew of cyber-harassers?

    The fact is Leiter is out front in attacking scambloggers, including Campos, and so he gets subjected to endless abuse and insults. This is a case in point. There was no actual evidence produced for any of the things you claim (none!), just assertions and speculations by Campos and other anonymous commenters—including the assertions of an alleged hacker! Credible witness! I follow a number of law-related blogs, and this happens periodically. Leiter’s name comes up and then various people, always using pseudonyms, show up to spew poison. For all I know, it’s just one person obsessed with Leiter (is it you, Zipser?). Why don’t you turn Leiter into his Dean, let’s see what happens. I bet the Dean will want some actual evidence of wrong-doing.

    The more interesting question, though, is what Campos’s Dean will do about the apparent blackmail, and whether he will really buy the explanation offered. No one who knows the history of the Campos-Leiter feud could possibly believe that Campos was doing the “decent” thing. Now that’s a relevant “history.” Not that anyone here cares or should care.

  20. An element of the crime set out in the ILL statute is that the indimidator must threaten “to perform without lawful authority”.

    Anyone know how “without lawful authority” is defined?

    Do you need “lawful authority” to pass along (or make more fully public) information you have about a person?

  21. This exchange between Leiter and Campos is absolutely embarrassing. It feels as if what we have here is dueling out of control egos. It amazes me, that with all of the problems we have in the US and globally, that these two guys are involved in such theatrics. I feel as if we are dealing with adolescent boys who (a) have too much time on their hands and (b) believe erroneously that they are all that. My suggestion, they need a “time out,” and we need to stop reading this drivel and get on with real work. Enough already.

  22. BW = Brian Leiter, in case anyone was confused by that.

    In case anyone else is confused (aside from Brian Leiter), Campos is forthwith in posting honestly under his own name and taking responsibility and standing behind the things he says (and what he believes), and Leiter has been trying to smear Campos for 2.5 years with his off-the-wall vitriolic animus, all of it filled with gross misrepresentation, and often times outright lies.

    He thinks that if he repeats his lies enough times that they’ll somehow become ‘true’ in the eyes of the internet – and maybe that will happen if everyone else doesn’t stand up to refute him and his hordes of sock puppets.

    He’s a pathetic human being, and it would be really nice for everyone if he just ceased his debased shenanigans.

  23. This is great, no crazy thread about Leiter is ever complete without someone claiming that anyone who disagrees with obsessed anonymous cyber-stalkers must be Leiter, since of course no one ever disagrees with them, except one lawprof at Chicago. In case anyone is confused ‘here’=’zipser’=Campos. Right?

  24. Just to follow up. There are two options.

    1) Brian Leiter ALWAYS posts using his own name.
    2) Brian Leiter SOMETIMES posts pseudonymously.

    There is overwhelming evidence that 1 is false and 2 is true.

    In this particular case, having carefully reviewed what BW wrote, I strongly believe that BW is in fact Brian Leiter posting pseudonymously. I don’t expect him to admit it. I will never have proof that it is so. But it’s pathetic. Grown up. By all means, do battle with the scambloggers (I’m not one of them) if that’s what you want to do. But don’t lie, don’t misrepresent, don’t smear. Try to be a big boy.

  25. Sure, Paul. Couldn’t even let an hour pass before replying, could you, “big boy”?

    As I said a couple of days ago, this always seems to happen when the Leiter stalkers come out.

  26. The corollary to “BW”s ‘observation’ that the Leiter-haters come out and claim anonymous comments are Leiter in Leiter-related threads is that in Leiter-related threads the Leiter sock-puppets come out to defend the Leiter position.

    It’d say it’s a bit of a chicken/egg thing, but I don’t believe that. The Leiter sock-puppets come first.

  27. Leitner has a credibility problem: the literally dozens of on-line smears and vendettas he have carried out against all of his detractors and critics, no matter how insignificant the critic or the criticism – including his public and private bludgeoning of the baby lawyer from Nevada for having the temerity to question him (“since you have never practiced law, how do you know what lawyers think?”) — going to far as to humiliate the young man on his blog as well as writing the Nevada lawyer and threatening to copy his correspondence “to your senior partners”. Leitner is constantly embroiled in one academic feud or another and has attacked some very well respected law professors with blogs. Therefore, any ethics complaint by Leitner should be viewed with suspicion.

  28. This is a typical example of an abusive, threatening email from Brian Leiter (and if this isn’t “intimidation” what is?):

    “From: “Leiter, Brian”
    Subject: chrisclaire
    Date: February 20, 2014 at 12:21:34 PM EST
    To: “‘’ ”

    Grow up, Noelle. You better disappear that vandalism quickly. I’m a lawyer, my wife is a lawyer, and most importantly, one of my best and oldest friend is a lawyer, and you don’t want to get to know him. I’ll also be happy to write about how you write your own Wiki bio under a pseudonym. But, seriously, stop making this personal, or you won’t like how it ends.”
    (; bold italics added for emphasis.)

    Note however, that the sender in question, Brian Leiter, is not (and never has been) admitted to practice law in any jurisdiction. (Leiter CV (.)

    The claim to be a “lawyer” by one not licensed as such to appear in court is untruthful, unethical and improper. (See, e.g., District of Columbia Court of Appeals, Ethics Opinion 16-05, issued June 17, 2005, foot note 1 [FN]

    Brian Leiter is the one sending abusive and threatening emails to colleagues (in this case even threatening to do the very thing he accused Paul Campos of if “Nicole” did not take down a blog post” “out” her on his blog as (allegedly) the anonymous author of her own Wikipedia page. To say nothing of misrepresenting his professional credentials (as he has also done on his blog, calling himself “an experienced lawyer”. ()

    FN – “”[T]he words `lawyer’ and `attorney’ are synonymous, and hence anyone advertising himself as a lawyer holds himself out to be an attorney, attorney at law, or counselor at law.” In re Page, 257 S.W.2d 679, 684 (Mo.1953) (quoting People ex rel. Colorado Bar Ass’n v. Taylor, 56 Colo. 441, 138 P. 762, 763 (Colo.1914)); see also Merrick v. American Security & Trust Co., 71 App. D.C. 72, 74 107 F.2d 271, 273 (1939). It has recently been held that a law school graduate is not a lawyer because neither the commonly accepted meaning of the term nor its technical definition allow such usage. Binkley v. People, 716 P.2d 1111, 1113-14 (Colo.1986). The court held that both the commonly accepted meaning of “lawyer” and its technical definition denote a person licensed to practice law. Id. The argument that the term “lawyer” includes unlicensed law school graduates was specifically rejected. In the words of the court:

    “The common definition of “lawyer” is “a specialist in or a practitioner of law “that is, one whose profession “is to conduct lawsuits for clients or to advise as to the prosecution or defense of lawsuits or as to legal rights and obligations in other matters.” Webster’s Third New International Dictionary 1280 (1971). As long ago as 1908 this court observed that the term “lawyer” is generally understood to refer to a professional person “legally authorized to appear for and represent clients who are parties to causes in courts of record.” People ex. rel. Colorado Bar Association v. Erbaugh, 42 Colo. 480, 487-88, 94 P. 349, 352 (1908).”

    This commonly accepted meaning of the term refutes the notion that a lawyer is anyone who has studied law, even though he or she may not have fulfilled the qualifications necessary to engage in the practice of law.” (Ibid.)

  29. According to the New York State Bar website, University of Chicago Professor Brian Leiter TODAY reactivated his license to practice in that state, inactive from approximately 1989 until today, October 9, 2014,

    He is now entitled to refer to himself as “lawyer”..

    He was NOT so entitled when he authored the referenced blog posts and emails.

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