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MA: Harvard professor loses post for defending an unpopular client

[ – 5/14/19]

As soon as it was revealed earlier this year that a house faculty dean at Harvard University, Ronald S. Sullivan Jr., had decided to join the legal team of Harvey Weinstein, students spoke out. Two undergraduates wrote an op-ed in The Crimson, calling on Harvard to “remove” Sullivan, because he chose to defend Weinstein, “the man whose infamous sexual misconduct and assault of over a dozen women initiated the #MeToo movement.” The students say that they “condemn Sullivan’s decision to represent Weinstein” while serving as dean, and “further condemn the Harvard administration’s inaction.” [Danu A. Mudannayake and Remedy Ryan / Harvard Crimson]

“Petitions and other expressions of student outrage quickly followed,” writes Lara Bazelon for Slate. Hundreds of students protested. Harvard listened. Last Saturday, Harvard announced that it would not renew the appointments of Sullivan and his wife, lecturer Stephanie Robinson, as faculty deans of an undergraduate residence, although both will stay on as professors. “Sullivan and Robinson have served in those roles for a decade and are the first Black professors in Harvard’s history to receive faculty dean appointments.” [Lara Bazelon / Slate]

Sullivan is among the most high-profile criminal-defense lawyers in the country. He has devoted much of his career to representing less-privileged defendants. He is the director of the Criminal Justice Institute at Harvard Law School and previously served as the director of the Washington, D.C., Public Defender Service. After Hurricane Katrina, he helped free thousands of people who had been incarcerated without due process. [Isaac Chotiner / New Yorker]

A Harvard spokesperson said the decision “was informed by a number of considerations,” but students celebrated it as a “win” for the #MeToo movement. “This win—even if it is localized to our campus—means a lot for a lot of other people. It empowers voices that constantly are criticized,” said Danu A.K. Mudannayake, one of the lead student protesters.

But it isn’t a win, especially not for the disempowered. “It is particularly important for this category of unpopular defendant to receive the same process as everyone else—perhaps even more important,” Sullivan wrote in an email to students after the controversy broke out. “To the degree we deny unpopular defendants basic due process rights we cease to be the country we imagine ourselves to be.”

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This new mob BS and this entire #metoo movement is dangerous for us as a nation. We are heading to a civil war and that is not no joke anymore. It used to be like a radical thought but it is getting to the point that it is real. I know many many people that have means and the will that are getting ready and are about to go and are on a very short fuse. All that it is going to take is certain gov actions like trying to ban assault rifles and over taxation that is going to… Read more »

Wow. This is not good. Shame on Harvard!!!

” to the degree we deny unpopular….basic due process…we cease to be the …to be. ”

But your leadership in 1994 (all with ties to Harvard) said it was ok with the WETTERLING ACT!
“WAS IN PRISON FOR….A CRIME” was utilized in statute.

It already “ceased” but most do not acknowledge it. The republic is dead. What is left is corporate oligarchs, many of whom belong to the D party. BOTH parties feed off the tax pie. The people remain convinced the control the people’s purse, yet that too is wishful thinking.

Harvard actually did this to a decades-long well-respected, well-reputed professor and aren’t afraid of a real possible lawsuit?

This is obviously wrong and scary on so many levels, at least to anyone exercising any level of common sense. Based on the prestige of the “Harvard” brand, you would want to think/hope that the students and the faculty at a prestigious school, a prestigious law school even, would see the errors in their ways. If the injustice wasn’t already bad enough, they opted to also not renew his wife’s contract. Wow! Nice to know there is no shortage of idiots even at a school like Harvard.

I agree with @MS wrote, but there is more to this decision that is not probably considered – the Harvard U Endowment currently valued at over $38B (Yes, that is a B). Why is that important? The donor who gives to the endowment can quietly drive what they want to happen without any attention. While these the husband and wife are staying on as faculty members, which I believe is a political move to avoid racial discrimination overtones because fully removing them from both could be seen as so, one as to wonder if they will stay and for how… Read more »

This is just Harvard protecting their brand and reputation by distancing themselves from anything “sex.” Ever since the Sandusky fiasco, this has become the norm.

America has turned into Salem 1692 thanks to social media.

So sad to hear this. This kind of Lynch mob mentality is tearing the country apart. It’s all just insanity at the end of the day though, and eventually I know it’ll stop. When it does, I think it’ll be permanently too.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x