Law Professors as Plaintiffs - Albany Law Review

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LAW PROFESSORS AS PLAINTIFFS Robert M. Jarvis I. INTRODUCTION Law professors show up regularly in lawsuits. Their best-known roles, of course, are serving as expert witnesses,1 acting as pro bono counsel,2 filing amicus briefs,3 and having their scholarship cited by

 Professor of Law, Nova Southeastern University ([email protected]). The research for this article closed on January 1, 2017. As such, it does not include any of the lawsuits that have been filed by law professors against the Trump Administration. The first such action (involving the federal constitution’s Emoluments Clause) was brought by Professors Erwin Chemerinsky (University of California at Irvine), Zephyr R. Teachout (Fordham University), and Laurence H. Tribe (Harvard University) on January 23, 2017. See Karen Sloan, Law Profs Butt Heads over Suit Filed Against Trump, NAT’L L. J. (Jan. 23, 2017), http://www.national return=20170123173922. Likewise, it does not include the lawsuits that faculty members at Charlotte School of Law (“CSL”) and Whittier Law School (“WLS”) have threatened to file in the wake of CSL’s mass firing of its faculty in January 2017 and the announced closing of WLS in April 2017. See David Frakt, How Charlotte Law Wrongfully Terminated Half Its Faculty, FAC. LOUNGE (Feb. 6, 2017),; Sean Emery, Faculty Fights Back Against Plan to Close Whittier Law School, ORANGE COUNTY REG. (Apr. 21, 2017), http://www.ocre esa/. Lastly, it does not include the short-lived lawsuit filed by Jennifer S. Bard against the University of Cincinnati. Bard was ousted as dean after her attempts to reform the law school’s budget upset the faculty. See Kate Murphy, Law School Dean Sues UC, CIN. ENQUIRER (Apr. 24, 2017), 604/. The suit settled for $600,000. See Kate Murphy, UC Law Dean Gets $600k to Drop Suit, Step Down, CIN. ENQUIRER (May 8, 2017), http://www.cincin uc-law-dean-gets-600k-drop-suit-step-down/101428204/. 1 See, e.g., New Props., Inc. v. George D. Newpower, Jr., Inc., No. 97-15769-CH, 2004 WL 5724109 (Mich. Cir. Ct. Oct. 1, 2004) (“The analysis of the Bank’s liability was best addressed by the Plaintiffs’ expert and distinguished professor of law, James J. White. Professor White is well known to any lawyer who has studied the Uniform Commercial Code in the last 30 years. He is a co-author of the Uniform Commercial Code and the hornbook used most frequently by law students on that topic. His unimpeachable academic credentials are also supplemented with practical experience as a former president of the University of Michigan Credit Union and as a member of its Board of Directors.”). 2 See, e.g., Sigafus v. Brown, 416 F.2d 105, 106, 107 (7th Cir. 1969) (“Phillip H. Ginsberg of the faculty of the University of Chicago Law School volunteered to serve as plaintiff’s attorney [in this prisoner civil rights action]. The Court is appreciative of his distinguished representation.”). 3 See, e.g., In re Brennan, 134 N.W.2d 126, 131 n.2 (Minn. 1965) (“A helpful brief amicus curiae has been submitted by Professor Robert J. Levy of the faculty of the University of




Albany Law Review

[Vol. 81.1

the court.4 They also routinely appear as defendants, such as when they are sued by a disgruntled law school applicant, student, or staff member.5 In addition, they intercede on behalf of friends and relatives6 and occasionally are picked to sit on juries.7 Some law professors, however, are in the courthouse for an entirely different reason—they are there as plaintiffs. Usually, their interest is a principled one: for