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Safety Dance Continues II

Let’s discuss the latest Safety Dance court order (pdf). Day 2 of 3.


rossiThat is a fairly harsh smackdown of Doe’s attorney, Stacey Elin Rossi. Are such direct criticisms of lawyerly competence common in court decisions? Are they justified in this case? Does this sort of language provide us with any clues as to where Judge Posner’s sympathies may lie?

lapp As we have commented before, no courtroom battle between the rich (Williams College and its highly experienced lead attorney Daryl Lapp) and the poor (John Doe, the son of poor Ecuadoran immigrants) is ever fair. But Lapp has been involved in several (a score?) of cases like Safety Dance. I believe that this is Rossi’s first. (Although the way that Title IX has evolved at Williams and elsewhere, she may eventually build up a thriving business. Informed legal commentary welcome!

The decision continues:

The evidence of gender-based discrimination offered in the complaint is thin. The unusual feature of this case, however, is that Plaintiff alleges that he was himself a victim of harassment, and even a physical assault, by the party he was alleged to have victimized. His allegations include claims that his own complaints of harassment were treated with less seriousness than the alleged victim’s complaints and that responsible administrators were more solicitous of her because of her gender than of him. At this stage, these allegations are sufficient to boost the complaint over the Rule 12 threshold.

A fair reading of the documents so far would convince most people that Doe’s allegations are most likely true. Smith, while a Williams employee, did slap him. His complaints were, obviously, treated much less seriously. The College was incredible solicitous of Smith. (And we still need to figure out how she got hired by Williams in the first place.) But the College will argue that, even if all of that is true, it was not driven by anti-male bias and that, therefore, Title IX does not apply. How can Doe demonstrate otherwise? What aspects of the case would you urge him to focus on?

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#1 Comment By anonymous On May 2, 2017 @ 9:16 am

FERPA and the event Doe was restricted from attending.

#2 Comment By CV On May 2, 2017 @ 1:00 pm

“A fair reading of the documents so far would convince most people that Doe’s allegations are most likely true.” I completely agree.

Also, a fair reading of all the documents would convince most people that the legal claims are supported by the evidence. So, why does the judge think that the case is so thin??? Combine that with the harsh language used to describe the length of the complaint (when the devil is in the details and specific facts need to be alleged, lengthiness seems unavoidable), it sounds like the judge has some underlying bias against Doe. After all the unfairness during the college’s recent proceedings, it would be truly tragic if unfairness pervades the judicial proceedings. It will be very interesting to see how this case goes compared to the parallel Amherst case which has a different presiding judge.

#3 Comment By CV On May 2, 2017 @ 1:02 pm

P.S. Also compared with the other two similar cases Ponsor has before him: UMass Amherst and WNEU

#4 Comment By Fendertweed On May 2, 2017 @ 4:51 pm

For Rule 12 purposes the statements in the Complaint are assumed to be true. If they then present a prima facie case, motion to dismiss = denied.

No fact- finding or weighing credibility is done at this stage.

The attorney who got spanked better figure out how to write a competent Complaint (including consulting with more experienced counsel) before re-filing, that’s a fairly harsh rebuke by the court.