Top Universities Sanctioning Law Professors For Unpopular Clients

I have previously written about the growing intolerance of faculty and students for opposing views and speech. Recently, however, there has been a further erosion in long-standing principles of free speech and academic freedom in the targeting of law professors for representing unpopular clients. Harvard University has been widely denounced for its removal of Law Professor Ronald Sullivan and his wife Stephanie Robinson as “House Deans” after Sullivan agreed to represent former Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein in his criminal trial. Columbia effectively forced out Columbia University law professor Elizabeth Lederer due to her prior work as a prosecutor in the “Central Park Five” case. It appears that no speech or even the principle of the presumption of innocence is to be recognized in the new realities of higher education.

Sullivan this week publicly denounced his treatment in a video statement June 12 titled, “When Harvard Stumbles.” Students were open in their demands for his removal because they simply disliked one of his clients.

petition calling for the dean’s removal stated in part

“For those of you who are members of Winthrop House, do you really want to one day accept your Diploma from someone who for whatever reason, professional or personal, believes it is okay to defend such a prominent figure at the centre of the #MeToo movement?”

In her case, Columbia University law professor Elizabeth Lederer was canned for work as a prosecutor decades earlier in the Central Park Five case. Nexflix recently released “When They See Us,” a series highlighting the experiences of the Central Park Five, who were wrongfully convicted of rape and sexual assault in the Central Park Jogger case of 1989. The film highlighted Lederer’s work in the case. Lederer has contested the film as historically inaccurate and has always maintained that a multimillion dollars settlement with the defendants was a mistake and that, even if they were not guilty of the rape, they were guilty of other serious crimes.

A petition to terminate Lederer garnered 10,000 signatures and in a letter published to the university, Columbia Law School dean Gillian Lester said that the miniseries “reignited a painful — and vital — national conversation about race, identity, and criminal justice.”

The merits of the case (like the merits of the Weinstein case) are immaterial to the underlying rights of free speech, academic freedom, and free association. The Deans at Harvard and Columbia trashed these rights in an effort to appease protesters. The cost of those decisions will only grow at these institutions — much like the costs recently imposed on Oberlin for its yielding to protesters in defaming a local grocery.

The failure of most faculty to oppose these moves shows how defining values of American higher education are being increasingly pushed aside in an age of rage.

42 thoughts on “Top Universities Sanctioning Law Professors For Unpopular Clients”

  1. This tactic seems to have been copied in NZ. Otago University students calling against a member of faculty involved with defence of an alleged mass-shooter.

  2. Professor Bret Weinstein Files $3.8 Million Claim Against Evergreen State College
    Weinstein was berated by student demonstrators and forced to leave campus last May over an innocuous email he wrote to a student group.

    Former Evergreen State Police Chief Files Suit $625,000 Suit Against College

    Former Evergreen State College police chief Stacy Brown is suing the college over its handling of the spring 2017 campus riots. The riots came in the aftermath of protests against former Evergreen Professor Bret Weinstein’s polite disapproval of an activism event that Bari Weiss of the New York Times called “a day of racial segregation.”

    Brown’s complaint details some of the harassment she endured at Evergreen State. Brown claims that she was subjected to daily hostility from students, faculty, and staff on the basis of their anti-police beliefs. One faculty member allegedly emailed Brown and called her a “fascist.” Another faculty member allegedly told Brown that her uniform and handgun were a symbol of her “privilege” as a white woman. Additionally, a sexually suggestive drawing circulated around campus of Brown in a KKK hood.

    Evergreen State College students host ‘No Whites Allowed’ event for second year in a row, but at what cost?

  3. I’m wondering whether the ABA accreditation authorities could be shamed into investigating instances of law schools retaliating against profs for representing clients. This goes against the bedrock principles of the legal system.

  4. Many universities have law schools within them. No colleges do. At a university with a law school located therein the law schools should attempt to provide some advise to the nitwits over in the liberal arts sections about free speech, the Constitution, presumption of innocence, and respect for human decency.

        Watch A Mob Of Yale Students Bully A Professor They Say Hurt Their Feelings

        ‘I want your job to be taken from you,’ shouts a student. ‘Let us define our own experiences,’ another student says. ‘Let us tell you if you’re being racist.’

        To recap, her cries are in objection to an email Nicholas Christakis’s wife, Erika Christakis (who is also a professor at Yale), sent to the student body last fall in response to the administration’s insistence that students ought to avoid dressing up for Halloween in ways that could be “culturally unaware or insensitive.”

        “Have we lost faith in young people’s capacity—in your capacity—to exercise self-censure, through social norming, and also in your capacity to ignore or reject things that trouble you?” Erika wrote. “What does this debate about Halloween costumes say about our view of young adults, of their strength and judgment? Whose business is it to control the forms of costumes of young people? It’s not mine, I know that.”

  5. lay down with lice you get fleas. Most revolutions find out who their agents were and then have them killed once they have won to prevent them continuing to act as agents for someone else. The current left has had since 1909 to get that figured out but the main difference is this time they are up against a counter revolution which at some point can count on their own government to ceanse itself probably by using the military.

    1. I believe the saying is, “lay down with dogs you get up with flees”.

      1. Unless they are using a transfiguration spell. How did that go in Harry Potter again? Didn’t they actually turn a raven into a writing desk? I think my inner nerd is showing.


      All those convictions—on the rape as well as the assaults—have been vacated because an aging district attorney wanted a glowing obituary in The New York Times. In 2002, the ancient Robert Morgenthau, Manhattan district attorney, issued a report recommending that the convictions in the Central Park rape case be vacated. Justice Charles Tejada (Fordham Law 2009 Hispanic Heritage Award winner!) granted his request.

      Liberals are opposed to rape in the abstract, but when it comes to actual rapists, they’re all for them.

      The D.A.’s report was based solely on the confession of Matias Reyes, career criminal, serial rapist and murderer. Reyes had absolutely nothing to lose by confessing to the rape—the statute of limitations had run—and much to gain by claiming he acted alone: He got a favorable prison transfer and the admiration of his fellow inmates for smearing the police.

      While dumping on the police for screwing up the investigation, Morgenthau wouldn’t let the cops interview Reyes themselves, even though his “confession” was the sole evidence that he raped and brutalized the jogger by himself.

      Not only were the police prohibited from interviewing Reyes or giving him a polygraph, but Morgenthau ordered other inmates not to talk to any police investigators about their conversations with Reyes. First the D.A. slimed the cops, then he ran interference for a rapist-murderer.

      New York journalist Nicholas Stix reports that one inmate says Reyes told him he heard the jogger’s screams and raped her only after the “Central Park Five” had finished with her.

      The media proclaim those five rapists innocent based on their own over-excited reports that the DNA found on the jogger matched that of Reyes, but none of the others!

      Yeah, we knew that. It was always known that semen on the jogger did not match any of the defendants. (“DNA Expert: No Semen Links to Defendants,” The Associated Press, July 14, 1990.)

      Hallmark should have a greeting card: “Guess whose semen wasn’t found anywhere on the rape victim?” (Open card) “I’m so proud of you, son!”

      Prosecutor Elizabeth Lederer expressly reminded the jurors of the missing rapist in her summation to the jury: “Others who were not caught raped her and got away.” Now we know who “got away.”

      DNA wasn’t the evidence that convicted the “Central Park Five.” It’s hard to believe now, but in 1989 DNA was rarely used to convict anyone, so it wouldn’t have been carefully collected by police investigators. DNA identifications had only been invented a few years earlier and were not even permitted in New York courts until six months before the Central Park wilding.

      This case was solved with old-fashioned police work. After the first 911 calls came in, the police arrested some of the thugs in the park that very night. Then they arrested those named as part of the wolf pack by the first detainees.

      For example, one boy picked up in the park told the cops—without prompting—”I know who did the murder. I know who did the murder. I know where he lives and I’ll tell you his name.” He named one of the five convicted of the attack on the jogger, Antron McCray. (The night of the attack, no one expected the jogger to live.)

      Of more than three dozen hoodlums brought in for questioning, only 10 were charged with any crimes, and only five of those were charged with raping the jogger. All those charged with the jogger’s rape gave detailed, corroborated, videotaped confessions, after full Miranda warnings, four of the five in the presence of an adult relative.

      Recall that none of them—including the police—could have known whether the jogger would emerge from her coma and be able to identify her attackers. (She emerged, but blocked all memory of the attack.) All five confessed to assisting the attack on the jogger, but none to raping her themselves. That’s enough for a rape conviction.

      In Antron McCray’s 34-minute videotaped statement, for example, he said:

      “Everybody started hitting her and stuff. She was on the ground, everybody stompin’ and everything. … I grabbed one arm, some other kid grabbed one arm and we grabbed her legs and stuff. Then we all took turns getting on her, getting on top of her. … I just like, my penis wasn’t in her. I didn’t do nothing to her … I was just doing it so everybody … Everybody would just like, would know I did it.”
      There was other incriminating evidence, all of which is currently being ignored by the media and PBS documentarians.

      Melody Jackson, whose brother was friends with defendant Kharey Wise, testified—reluctantly—that she talked to Wise by phone when he was at Rikers Island and that he told her that he didn’t rape the jogger, he “only held her legs down while Kevin (Richardson) f—ked her.” She originally volunteered this information to the police thinking it would be helpful to Wise.

      (The District Attorney’s report that recommended vacating the sentences described the above exchange as: “Wise replied that he had not had sex with her, but had only held and fondled the victim’s leg.”)

      Other witnesses provided various corroborating details to the police, such as one who said Kevin Richardson told him, “We just raped somebody,” and another who heard Raymond Santana and another boy laughing about how “we made a woman bleed.”

      Two witnesses independently told police they saw several of the defendants walking from the 102nd Street traverse area where the jogger was raped. One said he realized the significance of that fact only when he saw where the memorial to the jogger in the park was.

      When Raymond Santana was being driven to the precinct the night of the wilding, he blurted out: “I had nothing to do with the rape. All I did was feel the woman’s tits.” Wait! Who said anything about rape? The cops had not asked him about any rape.

      Two of the defendants, Santana and Richardson, independently brought investigators to the precise location of the attack on the jogger, something only the perpetrators could have done.

      The evidence against Richardson also included his vivid description of the attack—given on videotape, in the presence of his father—and a deep scratch wound on his cheek that he admitted was from the jogger. Oh, alsO—the crotch of the underwear from the night of the attack was stained with semen, grass, dirt and debris.

      Contrary to media reports, there was hair, blood or semen on all five of the defendants.

      In the opposite of a rush to judgment, two multi-ethnic juries deliberated for 10 days and 11 days, respectively, before convicting the five defendants of rape or sexual abuse—as well as the other assaults that night, mysteriously vacated by Justice Tejada—and acquitting all but one on the most serious charge, attempted murder.

  6. As a business owner, the behavior of employees outside the workplace can impact profit and reputation. No employer should be forced to lose money to employ someone who, for example, is discovered is a member of the KKK.

    However, a professor who is a defense attorney defends criminals and the wrongfully accused alike. I am sympathetic to the distaste for pedophile defense attorneys. I was sickened by Hillary Clinton’s laughter over getting a pedophile out of trouble who had raped a girl so violently, she was unable to bear children. So I get it. I think it was her glee and callous disregard for the girl that was the worst. However, criminal defense attorneys who are professors should not be penalized by a university for doing their job. How would anyone learn how to be a defense attorney without the opportunity to learn from the best? And those would be the attorneys who represent high profile cases.

    Is the university going to take the position that only criminal prosecutors may apply?

  7. JT, you are doing your readers a disservice by invoking the presumption of innocence. The presumption of innocence is widely misunderstood by laymen. It is purely a legal fiction created in order to shift the legal burden of proof from the accused to the government. In other words, an accused need not prove his innocence; rather, the prosecution must prove his guilt. A person may be absolutely guilty of a crime, e.g., caught on video in the act, and yet the presumption obtains though his guilt is beyond question. And even with a confession of guilt, the prosecution still has a burden to satisfy the court that there is sufficient evidence to prove that the confessor is guilty in fact. Absent such factual evidence (or a miscarriage of justice due to a legal technicality), the accused is set free though his criminality is not in doubt. However, public opinion need not engage in this legal fiction and can rightly condemn someone though he is beyond criminal prosecution or otherwise found not criminally guilty.

    Accordingly, we need not presume Harvey Weinstein innocent just because the law does so for the purpose of due process. While it would be irrational to hold him accountable for any CRIME until he is so convicted beyond a reasonable doubt, it is perfectly acceptable to conclude on the strength of the myriad of accusations that he is a practitioner of the “casting couch” and should be thus held in public contempt.

    1. It is purely a legal fiction created in order to shift the legal burden of proof from the accused to the government. In other words, an accused need not prove his innocence; rather, the prosecution must prove his guilt.

      If presumption of innocence is in your words a legal fiction, then wouldn’t the presumption of guilt also be legal fiction? Do you really want to shift the legal burden to the accused? And how does one logically prove a negative (innocence)?

      One only has to understand the civil asset forfeiture abuses to know what the government has done with our property rights, they would very easily do with every other right under your scheme.

    2. Kind of like OJ Jeff? He was of course found liable, but not guilty, and he clearly did it.
      The plaintiff in a civil action bears a burden of proof too.
      it’s roots are also in logic, where the one making an assertion bears a burden of proof in general.

      I don’t like Weinstein. I fully believe he traded sex for roles. He probably would have been a sure loser in a section 1981 lawsuit but apparently none of the plaintiffs have been that clever yet. And they were going for higher stakes.

      Weinstein, a fat disgusting contemptible pig, is entitled to a defense lawyer too however. Just like OJ or the lowest scum of our society. And the lawyers should not be hounded for doing their jobs.

      Turley’s point was very solid in this article.

    3. Right. If defendants were really presumed innocent they wouldn’t be on trial in the first place

  8. Hong Kong updates

    Carrie Lam phony apology. Step down, Beijing quisling!

    talk with a recently freed political prisoner Joshua Lam

    I’ll translate that last remark, that you can survive a Chinese jail with the help from other people.

    To be a little more specific, BRIBES is how people survive their prisons. LOTS of them.

  9. For a couple years I was Facebook friends with a retired NYPD Detective who had played a lead role in the Central Park 5 case. Interestingly he was a Black man.

    As recently as four years ago, this Retired Detective was still convinced The Central Park 5 was guilty. And he kept railing about their guilt in his Facebook posts. Said posts included photos of him escorting the suspects. He kept saying the ‘real travesty’ was their release.

    I never argued with this man, To the contrary I enjoyed his posts. But he wouldn’t shut up about The Central Park 5. Instead he doubled-down and kept hammering away at the issue. Then mysteriously this Retired Detective went silent. It was like someone threatened to take away his pension!

    More than four years have passed since this Retired Detective posted anything on Facebook. As much as I miss his posts, I”m not surprised he went silent. It seemed his rage could not go on in such a public forum.

    1. I remember reading about that detective too.

      He was convince they were guilty of assault and other crimes that took place that night.and he was Black so it wasn’t some racist perspective.

  10. I certainly don’t agree with the idea of Universities firing attorneys because of their clients. Right to counsel is an integral part of our justice system. It is surprising, however, the number of people who think an attorney should not represent someone they consider “evil” and that if he or she does, they must be evil too. A university should be teaching students about our justice system and the history behind it, not encouraging and participating in getting rid of professors because of their views.

    I am rather appalled at the statement you attribute to Elizabeth Lederer that the settlement should never have been made with the Central Park 5 because “even if they were not guilty of the rape, they were guilty of other serious crimes.” As a prosecutor she should understand that she has to actually prove a crime instead of saying, “oh, well, they must have done something wrong.” That statement alone should disqualify her for working for a “Justice” Department. While academic freedom is great, with a statement like that, I would be concerned that she is not teaching students the actual law.

    1. “the number of people who think an attorney should not represent someone they consider “evil” and that if he or she does, they must be evil too.”

      The liberal ideals of American justice suggest that everyone may properly employ a lawyer regardless of their “evilness” etc because our system is based on individual rights.

      Individual rights is only championed by the Left when it suits them.

      They want to deny to poor white person who is considered a racist the right to have a lawyer, because they don’t like poor white crackers, basically.

      That’s why they have hounded lawyers who dared to stand up to “civil rights champions” in civil cases. And so for example morris dees got his big win in a flimsy case against Tom Metzger, mostly because Tom Metzger was a TV repairman who couldn’t get a lawyer, they were all too scared of Mo Dees and so bid up the defense and Metzgers could not afford a massive advance representing the entire legal fee expected, up front, to fight the SPLC in court. So Dees got a big judgment on a trial that a decent defense lawyer could have won at summary judgment. And Dees flogged it in his fundraising for decades.

      A Rolling Stone reporter, a jewish liberal I might add, wrote a good book on this story called “A Hundred Little Hitlers” which told this story. the incident that gave rise to the suit was end of 1988. That was a long time ago already. Things only get worse, in general.

      The author was no fan of Metzgers; but she was fair to him. She alluded to social-economic situation of the times which gave rise to skinhead movement, but has repeated itself much since then, namely an increasing rise in white male unemployment and other social trouble signals, and tension evoked by mass migration. Sound familiar? that was 1989!

      It took all that time for “journalists” to recently discover that Morris Dees the “famed civil rights crusader” actually had a pattern and practice of harassing his own female and black employees, but in the intervening decades while “journalists” were busy shining his boots all the time, he became a millionaire many times over.

  11. The Republic would benefit if Harvard, Yale, Columbia, and Duke were closed, their endowments distributed among all other accredited public and philanthropic tertiary institutions (with each getting a share according to the number of degrees they award annually), and their plant and equipment auctioned off. Any consortium which get’s hold of their medical facilities can retain the extant staff and keep them open that way.

    1. hey why not throw princeton in there too? are they failing to keep up with negative expectations these days?

      1. He was eighty years old, obese, and diabetic. Really no mystery there.

      2. Scalia’s death, no proper investigation, no compliance with local law requiring autopsy. why?

        Autopsies are rarely done today. The mean autopsy rate in the 1950s was in the 80% range while today the mean autopsy rate is in the single digits about 5%. There is little diagnostic value in the autopsy. In the case of Scalia it was a miracle he lasted as long as he did

        Scalia was sadly a prideful man in preaching one thing but living a truly gluttonous, slothful. I always found his testament of his outward life discordant with what he preached. Great mind though: “do as I say, not as I do”

        1. No clue out of which orifice you pulled that datum.

          The rest of your remarks are libelous and frankly repulsive. Why are there so many creeps on these boards?

          1. No clue out of which orifice you pulled that datum.

            The Vanishing Nonforensic Autopsy
            Kaveh G. Shojania, M.D., and Elizabeth C. Burton, M.D.
            February 28, 2008
            N Engl J Med 2008; 358:873-875
            DOI: 10.1056/NEJMp0707996

            Now tell us when you are going to address your Axis II personality disorders because frankly you’re presence on these forums are worse than Peter Shill’s even if the latter gets paid to troll. you however? You just lead a meaningless life by lobbing your bombs

            heckuva job there as a man of God

        2. There was a procedure that was supposed to be followed and instead a federal marshall told the local judge lady that she didn’t need to bother to even come down and eyeball it. The only “investigation” was her saying ok & fugheddaboudit over the phone. It looks bad at the time and stills looks bad in retrospect.

          I don’t know about him being gluttonous or slothful. Where did you get that? He was an old Italian guy who probably liked pasta. So what? He was certainly not lazy. That’s defamation and bs.

          I looked up to Scalia and I still do. He was a champion.

  12. I have previously written about the growing intolerance of faculty and students for opposing views and speech.

    Yea but it doesn’t keep you from once again bringing to our utterly super saturated brains the same tired stories of academia gone amok, Trump passing gas and the hysteria that causes you and the internet, hunters shooting helpless animals, and other inconsequential stories.

    It would be a welcome change if you discussed how Americans have come to have complete contempt for the US Congress & US Courts, the US news media, how we got here, how the US Courts particularly SCOTUS opinions are showing symptoms of political ideology sans logic, how the Constitution might address this (wait for it) Constitutional crisis, and otherwise share scholarly discussions on the nation’s slouching towards Gomorrah like you know who did even if he got Borked.

    Enlighten us, Jonathan.

    Your “if it bleeds it leads” articles make you part of the problem.

    1. Estovir, Republicans have dominated Congress for most of the last 20 years. What’s more Republican-appointed judges comprise more than half of all Federal judges. So I don’t know ‘who’ you think you’re ranting at in this utterly mindless post.

      1. Mindless post? You’re kidding, right? JT’s point is that people are being attacked and fired for representing unpopular or unfavored clients. And it won’t stop with Harvey Winestein’s lawyer or the Central Park 5 prosecutor.

        I’m glad I represented garden variety criminals back when I was doing defense work. Never represented any “nazis” or “white supremacists” to the best of my knowledge. Never know when a SJW might come after you for someone you represented 20 years ago.

        SJW’s and the antifa are America’s Red Guards.


        1. Oh, they’re not as bad as Red Guards, but there’s a lot of similarities.

          They will end up like the Red Guards too, suppressed by the coming generation of leadership that’s sick as hell of them. The Communists that took over in China had been much under suspicion under Mao and his last crazy wife, when they were gone, it was payback time

          I am a civil practice lawyer not a criminal defense lawyer. I have represented some sketchy businesses and some people who are deemed undesirable, both from the left and the right. I don’t regret it. People always try and scare you off. Political cases arouse political forces. Power acts to win and rules are just tools to the powerful.

          Mostly if a client can pay the toll, and they have a case with merits, a lawyer should be willing to help. And most lawyers even rank and file Democrats are pretty good about that. They always told us that in law school and I suspect 90% of them were Democrats!

          In fact a lot of liberals are really cool about that, and it’s the chickenpoop country club types who are the worst about lawyers who take on difficult cases for those they deem undesirable.

          If you are a real lawyer, who works whatever kinds of cases to win, then you aren’t afraid to make enemies. A real lawyer who goes to court and wins. Not just some phony office practice honcho at a silkstocking law firm or the leftist counterpart, a “public interest” “nonprofit” firm no names mentioned.

          For any aspiring lawyers out there who are deluded into thinking in a narrow box as a lawyer, watch clint eastwood’s “dollars” western trilogy and you will expand your imagination to your own benefit.

  13. Not a big fan of the ABA, in fact haven’t been a member for years, but they got it right here.

    ABA Model Rule 1.2(b)

    A lawyer’s representation of a client, including representation by appointment, does not constitute an endorsement of the client’s political, economic, social or moral views or activities.

    What ever happened to someone hiring the lawyer of their choice?

    Wonder when rightist dissidents and other thought criminals will be deemed too evil to represent?


    1. ha ha ha Antonio. Don’t be coy. You know that representing “white nationalists” and “neonazis” and kluckers is only allowed for the ACLU in littering and cross lighting cases, for decades now.

      If it’s anything more daring than that, from a lawyer not approved by the “High Table,” then it will fetch a spanking from the Poverty Pimp’s Palace in Montgomery, Alabama.

      1. I have a suspicion that to our friends on the left that the definition of “nazi” and “white supremacist” is much broader than formal members of the NSDAP or NSM. Actually, I’ve never met a member of either group.

        Barbara Jordan who chaired President Clinton’s study on immigration in 1995 would be called a “nazi” now for the proposals she made at the time.

        A “nazi” is basically someone who disagrees with some tenant of political correctness regarding immigration (or racial matters).


    2. i have also pointed out here how RPC 8.4 is being used and misused to control lawyer speech and punish lawyers for daring to use such words with precise legal meaning as “illegal immigrant” — in various different states, again, for years now– and imposing such discipline even in cases where the issue was germane to proceedings.

  14. What we are seeing is the normal cycle of revolutionary movements; success always breeds excess. Eating their own is a hallmark of revolutionaries for whom revolution rather than an objective is the goal.

    Prof. Sullivan was once a leader of the left; now he is detritus. Such is the fate of revolutionaries (other than Che Guevara, who was lucky enough to get killed by the Bolivians).

    1. They treated him and his little band of bandidos as common criminals but also cut the head off the snake. Argentina did worse in deleting his very existence .He was so inept in Africa the USA advised let him become a living fool instead of a monument to stupidity. Castro’s kicked him out of Cuba. Other than being used by the Russians he had very little purpose in life I always thought his death was from insider to the left arranging it including the contrived pose. Not just raiding the local population for food etc but there was the matter of some raping the local populations daughters that got him and his band of criminals turned in. They had no where else to go. Now only the left overs with the t shirts hawking worn out copies of the Daily Worker on the street corners of Sebastopol or Berkeley are left and they are suffering from the disease of old age Nothing gained nothing accomplished.

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