Williams has responded (pdf) to former Professor Bernard Moore’s complaint Motion for Temporary Restraining Order. Comments:

1) EphBlog’s legal eagle writes:

The College basically is asserting that Moore has failed to satisfy his burden for obtaining preliminary injunctive relief (TRO) against the College with respect to his COBRA claim. The Opposition lays out the factors that the court will consider. Likely the most important factor that the court will consider is whether Moore has a “substantial likelihood of success” on the COBRA claim. Interesting to note that the College responds to this factor by asserting that Moore’s admitted crimes constituted “gross misconduct” which, as a matter of law, justified the discontinuance of his coverage under the College’s plan. Also note Footnote 1 — the College will be moving to dismiss for 1) failure to state a claim, and 2) improper service.

Thanks for the update. Any comments from our lawyer Ephs? The filing included copies of two other documents (here and here) that we have seen already, I think.

2) See here for some discussion about the College’s attorneys: Daryl Lapp and Robert Young of Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge. So far, I like their style! Best bit was claiming that Moore’s lack of health care would soon be remedied by his incarceration in federal prison. No need for COBRA there!

3) Love the opening sentence: “The plaintiff Bernard Moore, by his own admission, is a con artist and a thief.” Telling truth to power!

4) Most important tidbit:

This is the first official confirmation we have had that Moore’s second appointment was for three years. And that is the scandal! The College knew, or should have known, by that point that Moore was a shoddy scholar and horrible teacher. It is one thing to take a one-year flier on some visitor because you think he has important Washington connection. It is another thing altogether to offer someone with zero scholarly credentials/ability and a demonstrated record of sub-standard teaching a three year position.

Recall Lawrence Levien’s ’68 demand for an independent investigation.

The trustees need to conduct a thorough investigation. The faculty and administration failed here – they should not be asked to investigate themselves. The trustees should hire skilled, independent legal counsel to lead the effort. The ultimate report, with as few redactions as possible, should be made public, embarrassing as it may be. The goal should not be to blame but to identify what systemic failures led to the outcome and what reforms should be instituted in response.

I think that honest and diligent Williams officials like Assistant Dean John Gerry could conduct an acceptable and transparent investigation. No need to wrack up more legal bills! But there is no good excuse for the College’s current policy of stonewalling.

5) Still unknown is the precise date when the college offered Moore the three year position. (I assume that it was well before July 1, 2009.) Does anyone have further information on that? The time line, as best I understand it, was that Moore first applied for a tenure track position, in the fall of 2008, and was turned down. Kudos to the Political Science Department. After that, he applied for (or was offered?) the visiting position. But we don’t, yet, know when that offer was made or who made it. Any ideas?

6) Liked this:

I like to think of faculty members as serving as role models to Williams students. Would all current faculty members agree? The notion of a “role model” is not, uh, very post-modern.

Going forward, the central policy question for Williams is: What should the standards/procedures be for visiting appointments? The system clearly failed in Moore’s case. Is anything being done to fix it?

UPDATE: Our legal eagle clarifies one point:

One minor, technical correction to your post — this filing is an Opposition to (and exclusively responsive to) Moore’s Motion for Temporary Restraining Order, not his Complaint. The only response to the Complaint would be an Answer or, as the College has suggested in footnote 1, a Motion to Dismiss the Complaint. If the Motion to Dismiss is denied, the College’s Answer to the Complaint will follow. In the Answer, the College must admit or deny every allegation in the Complaint, and raise any affirmative defenses, counterclaims, etc.

Thanks. Correction made.

UPDATE II: Slight edit made to remove a tone deaf phrase. Thanks to a long-time reader for the suggestion.

Print  •  Email