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Gibson’s Bakery v. Oberlin College – Trial Day 10 – It depends upon what the meaning of the word “support” is

Gibson’s Bakery v. Oberlin College – Trial Day 10 – It depends upon what the meaning of the word “support” is

Dean of Students Meredith Raimondo takes the witness stand, and is questioned about communications expressing “support” for the student protesters

https://www.oberlin.edu/meredith-raimondo

Today was Day 10 of witness testimony in Gibson Bros. v. Oberlin College. The events giving rise to the lawsuit have been said to represent “the worst of identity politics.”  You can read about some of the background on this case here.

As so often happens in courtroom trials, choice of words used by witnesses becomes an issue. This is, after all, the art of truth-seeking that trial lawyers love to hang their hats on, proving that what was said can be true evidence of what that person accused was thinking. And, of course, common defense is “I didn’t mean it that way.”

As Oberlin College began its defense that it didn’t libel or defame Gibson’s Bakery & Market, co-defendant Meredith Raimondo took the stand today. She is the current Dean of Students for the school, and was appointed on Nov. 1, 2016 – about one week before the shoplifting and subsequent protests occurred that started this legal imbroglio.

At issue verbally was her repetitive use of the word “support” for the student protesters. Her emails, texts, and previous testimony showed she liked to use the term “support” extensively. Many of the usages of that word were describing the school’s relationship with the protesters outside of Gibson’s on Nov. 10-11, 2016.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qw2Sk_JTaXA

On Nov. 11, 2106, Raimondo and Oberlin College President Marvin Krislov sent a letter to the school community stating that “We want you to know that the administration, faculty, and staff are here to support you as we work through this moment together.” In an email sent out to senior administration officials on Nov. 23, Raimondo used the term “support” five different times in one paragraph according to evidence shown in court today.

One support reference had said that the Gibson’s food contract with the school would have resumed “had the Gibson’s been willing to support a resolution outside of the legal system.”

When defense attorney Richard Panza asked Raimondo to explain what “support” meant in her mind, she said, “What ‘support’ means in student affairs is to advise students and when appropriate to challenge them,” she said.

“Did you in any way “support” what the protesters were doing,” Panza asked.

“Our job was to focus on safety and lawful behavior,” she answered.

The goal of the defendants was to show her as a responsible college administration official, who acted as a link between the protesting students, the school and law enforcement. They tried to shoot down testimony that she was on a bullhorn for about a half-hour; she said it was about a minute at most a minute or so, instructing the students to not black sidewalks and to keep their distance from  confrontations.

She also said she did not instruct students how to make copies of their flyers, and said she did instruct the protesting students to use a college building room nearby as a “quite space” area. “When people get emotional, giving them a place to calm down helps to keep fights and violence from occurring,” she told the jury

But Gibson’s attorney Lee Plakas was having none of these explanations of her role during his cross-examination.

“We see your use of the word support in many communications but you are saying the meaning of the word “support” by you is not in the common meaning we all think it is?” he asked. “As in, “support” meaning, ‘I’m in favor of what you are doing’ or ‘you’re right and I’m backing you.’ “

Raimondo responded quickly: “You can twist my words any way you want. No matter how you try to twist [them], it’s not what I meant.”

“I don’t take a side on the position being protested,” she continued. “I’m on the side of safety and lawful behavior. I support the students by what they need to do to keep the action safe and lawful.”

Raimondo said repeatedly under questioning by the college’s attorney that the school had nothing to do with production of the flyer and student senate resolution at issue in the case.

[Flyer handed out by protesters outside Gibson’s Bakery]

https://www.facebook.com/OCStudentSenate/photos/a.10150653508714368/10155590200144368/?type=3&theater

What the plaintiffs are trying to prove to the jury is that the school did not have to compose the flyer passed out at the protests, or write the resolution passed by the Oberlin College student senate. What they want to have the jury consider is that the college and Raimondo “supported” the students in what they did in the plain meaning of the term. So the perception of truthfulness is a key part of this civil case. Raimondo’s credibility is on trial in some respects.

The defense portrayed Raimondo as a highly-respected academic. She graduated as an undergrad from Brown University in 1991, majoring in American Civilization. According to her testimony today, after a brief turn as a teacher in the Los Angeles area after graduation, she then attended Emory University in Atlanta and received a master’s degree (her thesis was on inequality and social change in the U.S.) and a doctorate (thesis on the history of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s).

Raimondo arrived at Oberlin College in 2003 and has been there in various capacities ever since.

Two incidents – one that was gone over today and another that will be subject of cross-examination tomorrow – will have a huge impact in this determination of truth.

Jason Hawk, editor for the Oberlin News Tribune, testified earlier in the trial that he had attended the Nov. 10 protest and that Meredith Raimondo gave him a flyer when he asked what the protest was about. Hawk said in testimony. “She argued we didn’t have the right to take photos of the protest,” He wrote in his initial story that the flyer that said “This is a RACIST establishment with a LONG ACCOUNT of RACIAL PROFILING and DISCRIMINATION” was “literature provided by the Oberlin College Dean of Students Meredith Raimondo, who stood with the crowd.”

The school didn’t like that description of the event in the local newspaper, and Oberlin College’s director of media relations, Scott Wargo, send Hawk and email to retract what they had written and replace it with “that literature was provided by the organizers and not Meredith Raimondo.”

Hawk insisted he was not wrong: “Sorry, Scott, but that’s simply not true. Meredith Raimondo handed me the literature.”

When emailed by Wargo what Hawk had said, Raimondo emailed back, “He is a liar.”

She had testified in court during her first time on the witness stand that she did hand Hawk one of the flyers, but claimed she did not know he was a media member at the time. She acknowledged again that did give Hawk a single flyer, even though she had said he was a liar for saying she did so.

The other item that might drop tomorrow is the schedule of subjects to be covered at a “Solidarity and Activist Lunch” at Oberlin College at an undetermined date. There were 20 students and eight deans listed as guests for the luncheon, and the plaintiffs got it in a discovery request from the defendants.

What is most interesting is that one of the subjects at this luncheon was “divestment of a relationship with the college and Gibson’s.” There is an Oberlin College print mark on the bottom, but Judge John R. Miraldi said he wanted to see proof of the tracking of the evidence from Oberlin College and the defense lawyers before questioning on the matter can continue. There is no date listed on it, but Meredith Raimondo’s title is listed as “Dean of Students.

Meredith Raimondo’s testimony is expected to finish tomorrow morning, and former Oberlin College president Marvin Krislov, who was president at the time of the protests, is expected to testify after.

Daniel McGraw is a freelance writer and author in Lakewood, Ohio. Follow him on Twitter @danmcgraw1

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Comments

Who printed the flyers accusing Gibson’s of racism?
All photocopiers and computer printers use microprinting to uniquely identify what printer produced any document. (Or so I understand.)

Will Oberlin’s claim be that she was doing this on her own time? Will the bus tread marks on her be only once over or many times? Did the college, in having a vested interest in punishing Gibsons, allow untruths to continue? Any coordination with the demonstrators will muddy that separation?

    Joe-dallas in reply to alaskabob. | May 29, 2019 at 8:10 am

    Even if she was doing the protest on her own time, and even with the right of free speech, A normal business would have fired her, or at least some form of reprimand.

    In this case, she was using school computers, school email, school letterhead, using the name of the school in the flyer, etc.

    That is grounds for immediate termination in most any business

Who decided to stop buying from Gibsons? If it was school employees then that’s proof that the school was actively involved in the attacks and protests against Gibsons.

What is the she/her/hers in the woman’s picture? It can’t be the pronouns used to address her? How sick!

WTF?

I thought we were getting testimony from Meredith Raimondo, not Bill Clinton.

‘Support’ doesn’t mean we were actually SUPPORTING them.

How in the name of god did Oberlin’s lawyers think this was a sound legal strategy?

    dunce1239 in reply to Olinser. | May 28, 2019 at 11:30 pm

    Downvoted by accident was trying to click reply. The lawyers have to go with the facts or make up some “facts”.

Extinguish the entire Academy.

Thrice.

    C. Lashown in reply to guinspen. | May 29, 2019 at 1:25 pm

    That is the direction the Marxists have led them to. Sadly, it’s not just Oberlin but major/minor schools all across America. Making money and indoctrinating students seems to be the lone goals; certainly NOT a higher education.

Elsewise we are f*cked.

However, Hillsdale gets a pass.

DDsModernLife | May 28, 2019 at 10:00 pm

Newspaper: “Raimondo handed out fliers.”
Raimondo: “Newspaper is lying.”

Court: “You’re under oath. Did you hand out fliers?”
Raimondo: “Yes.”

Jury: “That noise that sounds like a toilet flushing? That’s your credibility going down the drain and taking the College with it.”

counsel4pay | May 28, 2019 at 10:11 pm

Hit her with Trey James’ Day 3 testimony; the “F-ck Gibson’s” quote; and more. But be civil, even courteous, respectful, and always in control.

DAY 3:
“Clarence “Trey” James, an African-American who had worked at the store since 2013, first denied that any racism existed in either the store’s treatment of its customers, or how he has been treated. “Never, not even a hint,” James said. “Zero reason to believe, zero evidence of that.””
* * *
“James said he was working at the store during the protests and could see Raimondo directly outside the front door, as he was working the cash register near the front windows and store entrance. Raimondo has claimed she was merely at the protest because it was her administrative duty to oversee the safety of the students and to keep the event “lawful.” She has repeatedly said she was not an “active participant.”

But James said he saw Raimondo “standing directly in front of the store with a megaphone, orchestrating some of the activities of the students. It appeared she was the voice of authority. She was telling the kids what to do, where to go. Where to get water, use the restrooms, where to make copies.”

The copy making was needed to get more flyers for the students to pass out. These flyers said Gibson’s had a long history of racial profiling, had assaulted the shoplifting students, encouraged a boycott of Gibson’s, and gave a list of other stores to shop with.

James said Raimondo was taking part in the distribution of these flyers. “She had a stack of them,” James testified, “and while she was talking on the bullhorn, she handed out half of them to a student who then went and passed them out.””

[Break down those statements into component part. IT’S PLAINTIFF’S CHANCE TO HIT DEFENSE WITH CRUCIAL EVIDENCE.

    RodFC in reply to counsel4pay. | May 29, 2019 at 9:52 am

    Maybe it’s better saved for closing. He can trot out the signatures too. Thqt way she doesn’t have to come otu with some rationalization.

And another thing, academic, millenial puppies…

ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ

She did not have political connections with those students.

Our current Academy is corrupt beyond redemption.

    bw222 in reply to guinspen. | May 29, 2019 at 1:50 pm

    What you’re saying is true, but Oberlin is still more screwed up than 98% of today’s colleges and universities.

Terence G. Gain | May 28, 2019 at 10:33 pm

It’s not clear to me from this article whether Raimondo was discredited. As I expected she would be.

    Tom Servo in reply to Terence G. Gain. | May 28, 2019 at 10:49 pm

    We won’t know that until the Jury returns a verdict, since their decision is the only one that counts. It sounds like Gibson’s legal team is doing a good job at accomplishing its objectives.

      Terence G. Gain in reply to Tom Servo. | May 28, 2019 at 10:52 pm

      Tom

      You are not addressing my point.

        zennyfan in reply to Terence G. Gain. | May 28, 2019 at 11:57 pm

        Yes, he did. Mr. Servo may perceive Raimondo as discredited, but the only opinion that counts is what the jury perceives.

        What “point” is that other than you are “unclear”?

        You’re overpaid.

          Terence G. Gain in reply to Barry. | May 29, 2019 at 5:50 pm

          I was the first, and perhaps the only, person on this site to clarify the law on the limit of punitive damages. Since I am not being paid for my helpful comments – and I am retired – only an idiot would claim that I am overpaid.

    Ken in Camarillo in reply to Terence G. Gain. | May 30, 2019 at 2:56 pm

    It would seem her credibility is almost zero: She lied about handing out a flier and had to admit she did; her ridiculous claims of what she meant by support are only rivaled by Clinton’s “it depends on what the meaning of is is”.

counsel4pay | May 28, 2019 at 10:34 pm

On Day 3, James’ testimony cemented Gibson’s “prima facie” case, sufficient to obliterate Motion to Dismiss; Motion for Directed Verdict; etc. etc.

Question: If I were Gibson’s attorneys, would I want Trey James present in the courtroom for the balance of Dean Raimondo’s testimony? Would I call him on “Redirect”?

James’ testimony is so pivotal, I would have a partial certified transcript of the same. IF A JURY ASKS FOR IT, THEY CAN TAKE IT AND READ IT DURING DELIBERATIONS [in CA].

Raimondo is a stone cold liar. And it simply has to be obvious to everyone in the courtroom, which means that instead of helping the case for the college, she is killing it.

    Terence G. Gain in reply to Titan28. | May 28, 2019 at 10:43 pm

    I believe that to be the case, but what in this article makes that point clear?

      Terence G. Gain in reply to Terence G. Gain. | May 28, 2019 at 11:57 pm

      Instead of down voting me, why don’t you refer me to the testimony which addresses my point?

      Gunstar1 in reply to Terence G. Gain. | May 29, 2019 at 2:11 am

      “She acknowledged again that did give Hawk a single flyer, even though she had said he was a liar for saying she did so.”

      She acknowledged she lied.

        Terence G. Gain in reply to Gunstar1. | May 29, 2019 at 8:00 pm

        Obviously Raimondo is a liar and a fanatic. I was expecting more information, but perhaps her credibility was destroyed when Plaintiffs’ counsel cross – examined her as an adverse witness.

It was always fairly clear that Raimondo was going to be the weak link in whatever defense strategy Oberlin adopted.

However, Hillsdale gets a pass.

And of course, as well, our gracious host, Prof Jake.

    guinspen in reply to guinspen. | May 29, 2019 at 7:06 pm

    “However, Hillsdale gets a pass.

    And of course, as well, our gracious host, Prof Jake.”

    So, six downvoters, your downvotes specifically denote that you think Prof Jake should be “nuked from orbit.”

    Heh!

    guinspen in reply to guinspen. | May 29, 2019 at 7:53 pm

    Because we can never have enough college puddings who can’t distinguish their ass from a hole in the ground.

What a tangled web you weave
when first you practice to deceive.

Present company excepted.

“Located Pointe du Hoc—mission accomplished—need ammunition and reinforcement—many casualties.”

Back to Obama Administration “Nuances”.

Oberlin is faced with jury of cretins (in their lofty arrogant opinion). In other words a jury that might actually think using common sense.

The jury is not versed in the cognoscenti’s newspeak. So the jury may make logical inferences that Oberlin intellectuals can’t bring themselves to make. The word “support” coupled with severing ties with Gibson’s Bakery can reasonably be taken as supporting the defamation of Gibson’s Bakery.

Oberlin has a bad hand to play. Raimondo’s mere presence at the protest is a disaster.

    sequester in reply to dystopia. | May 29, 2019 at 6:57 am

    Why would Oberlin expose this woman to a second round of questioning? Her credibility and forthrightness are questionable.

    Her points could have been raised by counsel in closing arguments.

Doesn’t Raimondo know she comes off looking like “Humpty Dumpty” from Lewis Carroll’s “Through the Looking Glass”? I’m referring to this famous passage:

“I don’t know what you mean by ‘glory,’ ” Alice said.

Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. “Of course you don’t — till I tell you. I meant ‘there’s a nice knock-down argument for you!’ ”

“But ‘glory’ doesn’t mean ‘a nice knock-down argument’,” Alice objected.

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”

“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”

“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master — that’s all.”

Hopefully Gibson’s lawyer will point out the resemblance during closing argument.

“I don’t take a side on the position being protested,” she (Raimondo) continued. “I’m on the side of safety and lawful behavior. I support the students by what they need to do to keep the action safe and lawful.”

Then she should have said it like that.

I love the analogy to Bill Clinton–it fits this perfectly. Now support doesn’t mean support, it means student safety or some other thing. After that testimony, the Plaintiff can easily argue that nothing she says in the trial should be taken seriously; it’s obviously CYA.

I understand that the defense plays the hand they’re dealt, but I don’t think I would have put Raimondo on the stand if the best they could come up with is that support doesn’t mean support.

    MajorWood in reply to rochf. | May 29, 2019 at 9:55 am

    On a plus note, at least Raimondo hasn’t yet referred to the students as biorobots.

Although I don’t believe Raimondo for a second that “’support’ [in student affairs] means … to advise students and when appropriate to challenge them”, it’s an interesting legal question whether it even matters if she’s telling the truth. The reason I say that is because, as I understand it, defamatory meaning of a statement is to be judged by how the statement is interpreted by the average person reading it. And to the average person reading Raimondo’s comments, the words “we support the protesters” clearly means “we agree with the protesters and encourage them to keep doing what they’re doing.”

It will therefore be very interesting to see what Gibson’s lawyer argues to the jury during closing, and what instructions the judge gives them, on “defamatory meaning”.

See, e.g., https://www.traverselegal.com/blog/how-does-the-court-decide-whether-something-is-defamatory/ (“In determining whether or not a statement on the internet is defamatory, the court must decide whether the communication complained of can fairly and reasonably be construed to have libelous meaning ascribed to it by the party. In making the determination upon the meaning of the article, it must be construed as a whole and each word must be read in context of all other words. The test is the effect the article is fairly calculated to produce the impression it would naturally engender in the minds of average persons among whom it is intended to circulate. The words must be given by judges and juries the same significance that other people are likely to attribute to them.“)

The one thing, I’m confused about?
Why didn’t the plaintiff’s counsel produce a dictionary and ask her to read it’s meaning?

While Raimondo’s testimony is interesting Perry mason stuff, the plaintiffs have to keep the jury out of the weeds on this.

The whole point is not that Oberlin College instigated or even controlled the demonstrations, though proving either would be a terrific boon for the plaintiffs, but that Oberlin College actively provided support for the demonstrations either material or through direction.

It has already been shown that Raimondo was acting in her capacity as the Dean, with, at least, the tacit approval of the directors of the college when she provided both direction and material support for the student demonstrations. NO evidence has been submitted that Oberlin College took any steps to stop, or even curb, the demonstrations. It is possible to actually confuse a jury, through an over abundance of “facts”. KISS. The tack which should be taken, by the plaintiffs, is that the directors of the college made no attempt to curb or stop the demonstrations. It should be hammered home that the college supplied direction for the protests, in the person of the Dean, Raimondo, and material support, such as the use of school property, located in the area, and school equipment. And, further, that the school assumed an active role in the demonstrations by threatening Gibson’s association with the school in an effort to get the business to acquiesce to demands, allegedly made by the students.

When Oberlin College assumed control of the demonstrations, even for the purposes of safety and lawful behavior, it became a party to the actions of the students. In fact, it became a CONTROLLING party. Just as a traffic cop is responsible for the actions in an intersection which he controls, the college assumed responsibility for the actions of the demonstrators and, therefor, liability for their actions. The college went even further into the liability arena when it aided the students by providing material support and attempted to use its economic association with Gibson’s to influence the outcome to the student’s advantage.

Keep it simple and Oberlin College is toast.

re: “…Gibson’s Bakery v. Oberlin College – Trial Day 10 – It depends upon what the meaning of the word “support” is.”

Sounds reasonable. My own preference is how a doctor would use the word if you had two broken legs, along with a broken pelvis.

Why are leftist women always fugly?

    Arminius in reply to bw222. | May 29, 2019 at 1:55 pm

    Because right wing chicks are beautiful on the inside. And that lasts their whole lives. Unlike the outward beauty which wears away. Left wing women might have started out pretty, but the inward ugliness worms its way through.

      Arminius in reply to Arminius. | May 29, 2019 at 2:04 pm

      I could never love a woman who would kill her own child. Here’s a fun fact. More women are against abortion than men. Especially young men. Who want No Strings Attached hook ups. So it’s kind of amusing when Senators Gillibrand or Harris try to frame abortion as a women’s rights issue.

The thing about right wing chicks is they don’t mind when you call them chicks.

When I call a woman a chick, I mean it with the utmost respect.

Like I need to say this.

Can we replace “its” picture with a silhouette. Puts me off my coffee and bagel to see it this early in the morning.

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