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. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

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

    Higher standards, indeed. What higher standards?

  6. 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.

  7. “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.

  8. 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.

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

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

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

Comments are closed.