Today Lawrence Connell, the professor who was suspended from teaching at the Widener University law school after two students complained about the examples he used in his first-year criminal law course, filed suit for defamation against the law school dean, Linda Ammons.
On February 24, 2011, Dean Ammons submitted a Statement of Reasons for Dismissal for Cause for Professor Connell. The allegations accused him of exhibiting racism and sexism in his teaching, among other charges. On March 7, a committee set up to investigate these charges determined that the University should withdraw the Dismissal for Cause action. On March 16, Connell’s lawyer Thomas Neuberger issued a press release stating that Dean Ammons had chosen to disregard the recommendation and had ordered the two students to re-file their complaints against Connell. (The university issued its own release declaring its commitment to due process and a fair trial.)
According to Neuberger, the case will now go to a university hearing in which the panel is composed almost entirely of administrators, not faculty members, and where the lawyer will not be allowed to cross-examine witnesses. It is in light of this impending hearing and Professor Connell’s view that he will inevitably be fired that he is bringing this lawsuit today. He believes Dean Ammons is seeking to remove him because he is a conservative, a belief he explains in his interview with NAS.