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Widener law prof. lawsuit to stay in DE county Christine O’Donnell won 57-40

Widener law prof. lawsuit to stay in DE county Christine O’Donnell won 57-40

I have posted numerous times before about the case of Lawrence Connell, the Widener Law School Professor who was placed on one-year unpaid leave and forced to undergo a psychiatric examination as a condition of return.

The sanctions imposed by Dean Linda Ammons were so controversial that a high profile alumnus and major donor to the law school resigned from its fundraising committee and publicy criticized Ammons.

The short story is that Connell was vindicated by a university panel of allegations of race and sex discrimination, but found to have “retaliated” against the two complaining students by circulating an e-mail to the student body defending himself and having his lawyer threaten to sue the students.  Connell has sued Ammons as well as the two students, and the case was filed in Sussex County, Delaware.

Sussex County is the most conservative county in Delaware.  While the state went 57-40 for Democrat Chris Coons in 2010, Sussex County went 57-40 for Republican Christine O’Donnell.  The jury for the trial thus would be drawn from the most conservative pool in the state.

Understandably, Ammons attempted to have the case moved out of Sussex County to New Castle County, a more urban and more liberal venue.  New Castle County went 66-31 for Coons.

Here, the students alleged, among other things, that the use by Connell of terms such as “black folks” evidenced racial animosity and created a hostile environment, while Connell says there was nothing subjectively or objectively hostile about the phrase or any of the other language which the students and Widener administration deemed “racially insensitive.”

Juror perceptions could be key not only as to  whether referring to a group as “folks” is pejorative, but also as to the reasonableness of Ammons’ actions and punishment.  It is not hard to imagine a rural conservative jury pool thinking “folks” is a term of endearment while an urban liberal jury pool may find it odd at best.

In a major win for Connell, a Delaware judge earlier this month denied Ammons’ request to move the case to New Castle County, finding that under Delaware law Connell’s choice of venue was to  be given great weight and Ammons had not made a sufficient showing to overcome that choice:

Quite simply,any inconvenience is minimal as to Ammons and the other defendants, and is certainly no greater than the inconvenience that Connell faces. Given all of this, I find that Connells choice of forum should be respected and that it would not be an undue inconvenience for Ammons, or any of the other defendants, to attend trial in Georgetown.

These sort of venue battles can be critical in a highly charged case as this, where juror political leanings and outlooks may influence how they see issues.

Connell’s attorney Thomas Neuberger was not shy about the significance:

[V]enue was the one bullet in Dean Ammons gun. She has fired her gun and she missed the target.

I will continue to follow this case as it heads towards trial … in Sussex County


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So, it’s okay to say ‘folks’, a term I do use a lot, but not okay to say ‘black folks’? How does Ammon reckon that to be a pejorative? Perhaps she’s been listening to black comedians talk about ‘white folks’ and knows that their usage is pejorative, so she transfers the racial animus, inherent in many white jokes made by black comedians, to a guy who is just talking about a case. Those students should be expelled from law school on the grounds that they are too damn stupid to exist.

I address every group e-mail to my employees with “Folks”. Never thought of it as “pejorative”. I know I occasionally get kidded about it, I never understood why – but I grew up in a very rural area 🙂

I also lived in Manhattan or within one subway stop for more than 10 years, so I guess I’ve been equally comfortable in both worlds, but makes me think that maybe there is something deeper about why I am more comfortable with some candidates and politicians than both liberal and conservative acquaintances with a largely urban experience.

Maybe my broader world experience means … I’m more tolerant? 🙂

Just yesterday Obama referred to a black audience as “folks” and “ya’ll”.

Now the double standard of pejorative usage has gone from truly vile words to the benign term “folks” in the ever deepening PC capitulation. Have people noticed it is becoming o.k. again to refer to black (dare I say folks) as black and not strictly African American? Black is beautiful, and cool now perhaps because of having a black president. Benign differentiating adjectives are necessary to succinct language communication. You may describe me as white and skinny but that doesn’t make you an Anglo-skele-phobe.

MaggotAtBroadAndWall | September 25, 2011 at 12:32 pm

I’ve read all of your posts on this case and most, if not all, of the numerous embedded hyperlinks, including the lengthy report published by the University committee charged with exhaustingly investigating the allegations of sexism and racism.

I really hope the University and Connell do not reach a settlement and allow the jury to reach a verdict. I want to see how pervasive the insane and extremem political correctness agenda of the Left has corrupted the common sense of those selected for jury duty — and by extension society at large — at least in Sussex County, Delaware.

Thanks for continuing to follow the case.

I have developed a distaste for the word “folks”. I have noticed its growing inappropriate usage in multidisciplinary academic and law conferences in the recent decade or so by snob-wannabes. I suppose it’s a replacement for “gentlemen” or the ill-fitting substitute “ladies and gentlemen”, when the speaker doesn’t want to say “friends” or “colleagues” and is confused as to when it is or is not okay to use “people”. Obama’s overuse of “folks” has made it cringe-worthy. I suppose he also uses it to avoid saying something like “my fellow Americans”.

They really are out of touch up there, huh?

If a racial slur is anything some Black folks decide to say it is, then there is really no such thing as a racial slur. When everything subjectively fits the definition of some particular thing, nothing does. It becomes an undefined term. All accusations referring to it must be dismissed for vagueness.

“Here, the students alleged, among other things, that the use by Connell of terms such as “black folks” evidenced racial animosity…”

And yet black Americans use the expression too.

This has nothing to do with actual racial animosity on the part of the professor.

This is merely PC bullying, to make an example of the professor, to intimidate everyone by demonstrating that the Politically Correct fascists can destroy anyone, no matter how innocent.

“/…and created a hostile environment”

There is no environment more hostile than one populated by leftists. “Not just wrong, evil.”

In a SANE world we wouldn’t even be reading, much less discussing, a story like this. How anyone can believe that using the term “black folks” is pejorative, or racist, in anyway is beyond me.