“I’m Going To My Own Promised Land”: Larry Mitchell To Leave Cleveland For New York

Lawrence MitchellWe previously discussed the lawsuit against Case Western and former dean (and former George Washington law professor) Lawrence Mitchell. Mitchell has been accused of retaliating against his former associate dean Raymond Ku, including suggestions of three-some trysts with students and administrators. Ku’s allegations have been affirmed by a former administrator who came with Mitchell to Case Western from GWU, Daniel Dubé. There are also unnamed faculty and students referenced in the complaint. [For Dubé’s affidavit, click here] Mitchell later resigned but pledged to remain as a faculty member at Case Western. At the time, I discussed Mitchell’s options as limited but suggested that “he would be marketable at corporate law firms where these allegations may be viewed as less of a problem, particularly if he goes to New York.” Well, he has now announced that he is indeed in leaving in a blog posting entitled “Leaving Egypt” . . . for New York.

220px-BrsThe news of Mitchell’s departure was mentioned in a long investigative report by the local media, a story that is both brutal toward Mitchell and Case Western President Barbara Synder.

What is sad is that the article discusses the many positive things that Mitchell did as dean. He started out quite strong with innovative ideas and an energetic outreach to donors and alumni. Mitchell is an excellent writer with an impressive list of academic work in his area of corporate law. He was well on his way to a successful deanship at a school that badly needed such a leader.

As a litigator, it is the type of expose that you fear in litigation. It deals scenes of Mitchell getting drunk at parties and propositioning students as well as scenes of Mitchell making out with young girls at grocery stores and other public events. It also refers to an alleged picture of Mitchell making out at such a party. Dubé adds more details including being used by Mitchell to separate female staff from their dates to allow Mitchell to allegedly try to pick them up.The article is quite detailed, including students who give measured but ultimately damaging accounts like “To be quite frank, it would not be inaccurate to describe him as a dirty old man, but that said, there’s nothing wrong with being a dirty old man as long as you are able to keep that in an appropriate setting.” Likewise, a female law student recounts how she ran into Mitchell with a young girl at a Cleveland Heights grocery store: “I was like, ‘Oh, cute he’s with his daughter.’ But then he starts making out with her in the meat section.” One student correctly notes that this is a smaller legal community and Mitchell may have not appreciated how transparent you are as a dean at a leading local school. However, it is not clear that these public accounts of amorous conduct with young women involved law students or staff. Indeed, they remain unproven and anonymous. The identity of such women is likely to be added to the discovery demands — presenting even greater problems in damage control for the defense. However, this is a case about harassment and retaliation. The plaintiffs will have to establish that nexus. Yet, given the underlying claims and alleged cause for the harassing conduct, discovery will necessary delve into these allegations.

In the meantime, Mitchell’s lawyers are trying to get the judge reversed on a discovery order. They previously tried unsuccessfully to strike portions of the complaint. I noted at the time that such motions are highly doubtful in a case like this and tend to not only alienate the court but send the wrong message on the concerns over the allegations. The motion was predictably denied. The current motion to limit discovery is equally questionable. Appellate courts are very reluctant to second guess such matters and very rarely reverse such orders. This is not the type of strategy that one would expect if you wanted to get to trial and win on the merits. Frankly, it is the type of strategy you often see from large companies or government agencies to wear down litigants in hope for a settlement or abandonment of the litigation. However, it could also be simply highly aggressive litigation and a view that Mitchell has nothing to lose in seeking to curtail the case. Moreover, Mitchell is known for joking about sexual matters and the jury could well find that many of these references statements were simply bawdy humor. Additionally, the accounts of Mitchell being seen making out with young women does not confirm that they were either staff or students. There remains much that still remains to establish in discovery. Mitchell insists that this remains a case of disgruntled and hostile former colleagues and staff. He has reaffirmed his intention to prevail in court in disproving these allegations.

In his blog, Mitchell compares himself to Moses with a picture of Jews escaping from Egypt after Moses divided the Red Sea. He relates a conversation that he had with a Rabbi and how he felt like this was a place of oppression for him. He describes Cleveland as “a place for me of pain, of disillusionment, of disappointment.” He announced that “I’ve been thinking a lot about it and about where I’m going – to my own promised land.”

20 thoughts on ““I’m Going To My Own Promised Land”: Larry Mitchell To Leave Cleveland For New York”

  1. I see no “loyalty” in this piece. It is quite straightforward in presenting damning evidence.

  2. Nice to see loyalty to your alums, but the guy’s a sleaze and has no business in academia. he probably has no business in private practice but that’s a different matter.Either way, he’s probably high risk in terms of managing dual relationships. The university screwed-up and there is a sour grapes aspect to this, but few situations like this involve total angels and and just one devil.

  3. This guy’s life has more drama than the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

    1. Dredd – if you are talking about the band, it is Led Zepplin.

  4. oops typo: “The educators are evolving LIKE The Yardbirds evolved into Lead Zepplin”

  5. Has Mitchell considered starting up a Hedge Fund…Here’s the blueprint.

    During the 1990s, Larry Summers was a top Treasury official tasked with overseeing the economic rehabilitation of Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union. This project, was, of course, a complete disaster that resulted in decades of horrific poverty. But that didn’t stop top advisers to the program, notably Harvard economist Andrei Shleifer, from getting massively rich by investing his own money in Russian projects while advising both the Treasury and the Russian government. This is called “fraud,” and a federal judge slapped both Shleifer and Harvard itself with hefty fines for their looting of the Russian economy. But somehow, after defrauding two governments while working for Summers, Shleifer managed to keep his job at Harvard, even after courts ruled against him.

    That’s because after the Clinton administration, Summers became president of Harvard, where he protected Shleifer. This wasn’t the only crazy thing Summers did at Harvard—he also ran the school like a giant hedge fund, which went very well until markets crashed in 2008. By then, of course, Summers had left Harvard for a real hedge fund, D.E. Shaw, where he raked in $5.2 million working part-time. The next year, he joined the the Obama administration as the president’s top economic adviser.

  6. As much as Larry Mitchell’s conduct disgusts me, the conduct of the Case Western administration is even worse. It’s a case study in how not to handle a harassment complaint. Even if the underlying harassment complaint can’t be established, Case Western is going to get hammered on the retaliation allegations. Good Grief. It’s almost like Case Western tried to handle this case as poorly as humanly possible.

  7. Al, I think calling a Jewish dean a “porker” is the height of insensitivity. Wait, never mind. When someone uses a proud and great Jewish history as a crown of thorns, alibiing his depravity, he’s got it coming.

  8. He sounds like a nice fellow who ascribes to the life policy of “pork em if ya gottem.” No offense to the blog author but law schools are not for the most dynamic lawyers on earth. I hope he enjoys New York.

    1. This probably is not going to help the conversation, but I used to work with an attorney who quit teaching at the local law school when they said professors could not bonk the students.

  9. Man!! If you have the time, the investigative article is a superb piece of journalism. This guy has some REAL issues! He is Bob Filner only w/ profound AODA issues. The med school dean, who advised against hiring Mitchell, saw those problems, but she was ignored. Any perceptive person who has been exposed to alcoholism can spot a problem from across the room. But, if you don’t have time to respond, please read the short blog entry by former Dean Mitchell, Leaving Egypt. It is both Shakespearean and Nixonian.

  10. There is just nothing like a gossipy legal tug-of-war between lawyers. This is going to be fun.

  11. Jonathan, Vegas has the odds 25-1 plaintiffs will be filing pronto, now that the investigation is completed. Why file and start discovery when this was ongoing. The completed investigation will provide a roadmap for discovery.

  12. This guy sounds like Bill Clinton, he should get into politics. One od the best lines ever was him “Making out in the meat section” w/ a girl his daughter’s age. What a pig!! Kudos for staying on this story, important and juicy. Many people would miss this story, obsessing on shiny objects like Bundy or Lady Gaga.

  13. I would not put much faith in either the claims of Daniel Dube nor of the narrative of the complaint. And despite all the innuendo, it is interesting that no one has come forward claiming to have been harassed.

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