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Gibson’s Bakery v. Oberlin College Closing Argument: “When a powerful institution says you are racist, you are doomed”

Gibson’s Bakery v. Oberlin College Closing Argument: “When a powerful institution says you are racist, you are doomed”

Defense counsel counters: “none of these allegations you are considering have anything to do with what the college did or did not do.”

Today were closing arguments by the lawyers in Gibson Bros. v. Oberlin College, the lawsuit said to represent “the worst of identity politics.”  You can read about some of the background on this case here.

When Lee Plakas, the lead attorney representing Gibson’s Bakery, Allyn W. Gibson, and David Gibson, in their lawsuit against Oberlin College and Dean of Students Meredith Raimondo, started his closing argument this morning, he put a letter on the screen for the jury to see. It was entitled, “If Only Oberlin College Had Chosen to Do This.”

This is what the jury and the rest of the crowded courtroom read:

Dear Oberlin College Community,

Many of you are aware of an incident involving three Oberlin College students at Gibson’s Bakery on November 9, 2016. These three students have been charged with robbery, simple assault and attempted petty theft-shoplifting. Their cases are now being prosecuted in the criminal justice system.

We would like to reaffirm that Oberlin College respects the rule of law and believes that no individuals should expect, nor receive, special treatment, regardless of their affiliation with any institution, their gender, their skin color, or any other grouping.

Oberlin College has enjoyed a very long term relationship with Gibson’s Bakery and the Gibson family and we have no indication or record of any complaints or history of racism or racial profiling by the Gibsons.

Therefore, we urge all of you to not rush to judgment and say or do things that can harm others before all the facts are established.

Respectfully,

Marvin Krislov, Oberlin College President
Meredith Raimondo, V.P. & Dean of Students

Right after Plakas read this out loud to the courtroom, there was a loud thunder clap as a rainstorm rolled through downtown Elyria, Ohio. And Plakas paused for a second as the rain pelted on the 7th floor courtroom windows, and emphasized why this letter he wished Oberlin College had put out in early November of 2016 was extremely important for the jury’s deliberations in this case.

“If it wasn’t for the arrogance of this powerful institution we wouldn’t be here,” Plakas said. “We must care when powerful institutions don’t care enough. You can tell them loud and clear that their behavior has to change.”

[Allyn W. Gibson outside courtroom]{Photo Daniel McGraw for Legal Insurrection Foundation]

Two Different Narratives

The closing arguments by both sides of this case were completed this morning, though the case has not been turned over to the jury just yet. Judge John R. Miraldi held a hearing in his chambers for both sides after lunch, as there was some disagreement as to what his jury instructions – originally slated for the afternoon – would be. Miraldi then sent the jury home and told them they would get final jury instructions from him on Thursday morning. They will deliberate after that.

What each side had to offer the jury was as different as night and day. Gibson’s main theme was that Oberlin College had been having problems with its minority and more radical “cultural appropriation-problem” students, and that they decided to unload on Gibson’s by supporting the racial accusations from protestors.

As Plakas said, “Oberlin College had a choice at one point to appease their base of students and they could either deal with the issue or pass it off on someone else. They chose the latter, and in so doing, sacrificed Gibson’s in the process.”

The lead attorney for Oberlin College, Richard Panza, told the jury the school had no role in any of the protests or the aftermath. It was just students protesting, the rights of free speech, and that “none of these allegations you are considering have anything to do with what the college did or did not do.”

“Something happened that night [of the shoplifting] which ignited the students,” Panza said. “Whatever it was, it was the catalyst that inspired the entire affair. It was student-led and the school had nothing to do with it.”

“The college didn’t organize it. They wanted no part of it. But they were charged with keeping the community safe. To try to talk to the students out of protesting was unrealistic. Once it got going on the fast track down the rails, Meredith Raimondo made sure there were no one was one those tracks to be injured.”

The issue the jury will have to consider is the two pieces of evidence – a flyer passed out at the protest, and an Oberlin College Student Senate resolution – both of which contained sentencing which accused the business of being racist.

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

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

The college claimed in their closing argument that these were student publications, and the school had nothing to do with them and therefore was not part of those messages sent out.” There was testimony during the trial that Raimondo handed out at least one of the flyers and that the college facilitated the posting of the student resolution on campus.

“Publication is what you and your 200 buddies do when you copy flyers and pass them out,” Panza said. “The student senate emailed their resolution to 2800 student and that is publication. But those publications are irrelevant in this case, because the school had nothing to do with them.”

Plakas jumped on this subject, saying “The Gibson’s do not want sympathy, they only want justice.”

“Oberlin College wants it both ways,” he continued. “They say we’re in charge and we have influence, but if anything happens, blame the students. Gibson’s was doing everything right, and in an instant, it was taken from them by a large institution like this college. But [Oberlin College] say they had nothing to do with it, but in actuality, they had the power and responsibility to solve these problems and chose not to.”

“When they had the ability to do the right thing, to be the adult in the room, what did they do?”

The jury interpretation on the issues at play here are key, and the jury instructions by the judge tomorrow will be crucial as to how they interpret things. Oberlin College is saying they let the students protest because of free speech, and that anything that happened negatively toward Gibson was a First Amendment issue. And that nothing that happened after the protests – cutting off Gibson’s as a school vendor, emails from school administrators showing some malice toward the business, or damage from the racist branding of Gibson’s post-protest – could be part of this case.

The attorneys for Gibson’s were saying quite the opposite. The school did not initially “publish” the material in question, but did help students distribute the defamatory material in various ways at and after the protest: punishing the business for not dropping the shoplifting charges against the three who plead guilty eventually, helping the students find “quiet space” during the protests and feeding them and buying them mittens, caving in to students who threatened to “stomp” on Gibson’s bakery items if they were still served in the cafeteria, and never putting out any statement that Gibson’s is not racist.

Plakas compared Oberlin College’s actions to a person standing next to another person shooting a rifle which is killing people, and not stepping in at some point to stop them. And giving them bullets instead. He said they “aided and abetted defamation, the same as one would in a crime.”

In the end though, it also will come down to how the jury assesses damaged in monetary terms. Oberlin College still contends the business isn’t worth much of anything, and goes by their economic expert’s opinion – he was paid about $65,000 by the school – that the 135-year-old business is worth only $35,000.

Plakas put the compensatory and non-economic damages combined for David Gibson, his 90-year-old father Allyn W. Gibson, and the business at $12.8 million. The jury can also add punitive damages if they find Oberlin College guilty of the libel and defamation.

Plakas closed with a pair of social media send-outs that he thinks the jury should see as indicative of the school being in charge of the entire affair. In August of 2017, when the three shoplifters plead guilty and were put on probation, Toni Myers, Oberlin College’s Multicultural Resource Center Director then, send out a text which said, “After a year, I hope we rain fire and brimstone on that store.”

That year length in question, Plakas said, was the time it would take for the three shoplifters to finish probation and have their criminal record expunged.

He also told the jury that the definition of the “fire and brimstone” that Oberlin College administrators were sharing was two definitions in biblical terms: “torment suffered by sinners in hell” and “punishment that lasts forever.”

His second email mentioned in closing was when Meredith Raimondo sent out one about a college professor’s letter to the editor to the school newspaper on the protests. Roger Copeland, an Oberlin College professor of theater and dance (he is “emeritus” status now) criticized how the school was treating Gibson’s soon after the protests ended.

“Fuck him,” Raimondo sent out in an email to the school’s communication’s director. “I’d say unleash the students if I wasn’t convinced this needs to be put behind us.”

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

Plakas used this now-famed email again. “They can’t say they have no control over their students, how they have free speech and are independent, but they can leash their students on unleash them whenever they want?” he asked the jury.

“When a powerful institution says you are racist, you are doomed.”

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

[Featured image photo credit: Daniel McGraw for Legal Insurrection Foundation]

WAJ Adds: We will be on Verdict Watch tomorrow, and Friday if necessary. As soon as there is a verdict, Dan will contact me and I will post it. You will be the first to know, other than people in the courtroom.

————

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Comments

“…both of which contained sentencing which accused the business of being racist.”


Huh?

How long does it usually take a judge to give instructions to a jury? I’ve only served on a grand jury.

    jhn1 in reply to elliesmom. | June 5, 2019 at 7:51 pm

    Sometimes the Jury instructions frame the issues (or even the whole case) in such a way that blocks what the Jury might have otherwise have found as their decision.

    rso3 in reply to elliesmom. | June 5, 2019 at 8:03 pm

    It can take a couple of hours, depending on the case.

    Olinser in reply to elliesmom. | June 5, 2019 at 8:54 pm

    The more specific counts under deliberation, the more time.

    I think that there are… 6 different counts before the jury? Libel, defamation, tortious interference with contract, and a couple others that I forget.

    All of them have different standards for being found guilty/liable, and each count needs their own instructions.

    In this case probably a good couple hours for the instructions.

Somebody should have gotten on record, the local Liquor Board (or licensing authority) and asked them, again for the record, what they would have done to any Liquor License holder that agreed to decriminalized underage alcohol theft.

    Brave Sir Robbin in reply to jhn1. | June 5, 2019 at 8:49 pm

    Who knows how this ends? Be sure the Oberlin staff, except for Raimondo, is not sweating bullets waiting for a decision from the jury. After all, it’s not their money, so why would they care? It’s free to them. It’s just numbers deducted from an account the college owns. But hey, they had good fun prancing around in fraudulent moral posturing and outrage. So what is some local hicks get hurt in the process. At least they got to feel superior and righteous.

    How pitiful and tragic.

    Be sure, at the opportune time, the college will flush Raimondo for costing them so much money. She will be judged as just too much of a potential future liability to be kept around. The college cannot get rid of her before judgement because it makes it look like the tort has merit. I predict no mater what the decision, she is not long for continued tenure at Oberlin.

      counsel4pay in reply to Brave Sir Robbin. | June 5, 2019 at 9:11 pm

      Sir Robin nailed it! But I submit she’s gone whether or not Oberlin loses, she’s gone–but with both a titanium-clad NDA (non-disclosure agreement) and a decent pension: “It is with regret that Oberlin bids farewell to its exemplary Dean of Students who now retires to focus upon her [fill in blank: grandchildren…kniting.]”

      RETRIAL is possible, and she knows where “bodies are buried”. SO, Oberlin pays 100% of any judgment entered against her.

      Oberlin’s INSURANCE CARRIER probably has some “input” here!

        Brave Sir Robbin in reply to counsel4pay. | June 5, 2019 at 9:24 pm

        I am quite sure the insurance carrier, should they have one, will try and not pay for this one, depending upon size of judgement. They will make a rational decision. They will know their liability because the judgement will be known, then estimate the litigation costs and probability of loss in court to deny payment on the policy, then take liability times the probability of loss, add in the expected litigation costs, and if the sum is less than liability to pay Oberlin, then they stiff Oberlin. They will find some clause somewhere in the policy to hang their hat on.

        Generally, such insurance policies only cover errors and omissions, not intentional and tortuous misdeeds.

          counsel4pay in reply to Brave Sir Robbin. | June 5, 2019 at 9:49 pm

          Yeppers! AND, if Oberlin were to DISPUTE this in a public court action, the carrier gets to pound away at the college’s misconduct. TO OBERLIN, IT’S ALL ABOUT APPEARANCES, a happy alumni, prestige.

          Any judgment larger than “nuisance” value will be appealed: “Oberlin college has total confidence that the honor and good faith of the college will be fully vindicated by the appellate courts.”

          THERE’S A LOT AT STAKE HERE: A win for Plaintiffs will send shock waives throughout “ACADEMIA”. Colleges and Universities will ignore future misconduct of their students at their peril. INSURANCE CARRIERS WILL RAISE THEIR RATES. [And, yes, even greedy plaintiff’s attorneys will take cases on “contingency” hoping for a big pay-day.]

          There are specialized on-line and print reporters, magazines, news services, etc. all focusing on so-called “Higher Education”. IT’S A TRILLION DOLLAR INDUSTRY and now, today, it not merely allows but gloats that it is IMMUNE to risk from student “activism” no matter who gets hurt or what abuses arise.

        Cats. She’ll focus on her cats.

        dystopia in reply to counsel4pay. | June 6, 2019 at 6:59 am

        Counsel4pay — Oberlin defense team has argued that Raimondo was not representing the College. How can they use College funds intended to educational purposes to pay a Tort judgment not related to employment? That would seem to border on misappropriation of funds.

          MajorWood in reply to dystopia. | June 6, 2019 at 10:46 am

          The more in-fighting, the better. It will be interesting to see how the potential financial losses will be spread around. A hypothetical $10M loss from the endowment translates roughly into a yearly $400K decrease in income, which is at least 4 FT faculty positions and more. And you know that the marginally useless majors will scream the loudest if they lose a position, so this will pit them against the STEM departments who likely had “0” students involved with the protests.

          I think Ben Jones will be leaving town soon too. I don’t think the free use of expletives in campus communications is within the communications directors job description.

          The president, while not a participant in the event, likely had it within her power to bring this to a close as a new order of business. You would think that with an outgoing president who is a lawyer and an incoming president who is a lawyer that at some point they would stop to see how the law would look at this situation. Or do law schools only teach ideology these days?

Good point!

counsel4pay | June 5, 2019 at 8:37 pm

I like Gibson’s closing. BUT, I’m very happy not to litigate in Ohio courtrooms. In CA, the jury hears the instructions BEFORE the closing arguments–and the attorneys can “work and weave” the law into the facts. Not here. O.K. We ask Heaven to guide the jurors’ deliberations.

I do NOT expect a Plaintiffs verdict this week. Again, here’s CA procedure:

1. The jury is “charged” and enters the jury room to begin their deliberations. They have ready access to segregated bathrooms, a water fountain, maybe more. [Provision may have been made for “alternates”–that’s a subject in and of itself.]
2. First thing they do = select a FOREMAN. [This is an important event.] NO ONE BESIDES JURORS IS ALLOWED TO BE PRESENT IN THEIR DELIBERATIONS–no Bailiff; clerk; judge.
3. The jurors have interacted for nearly three weeks–they know a lot about each other; their jobs; their families; etc.
4. The foreman/woman will almost certainly be an OLDER JUROR and someone with PREVIOUS JUROR EXPERIENCE.
5. Good foremen/women often conduct a “secret preliminary vote” on liability. The goal is to find out how much unanimity exists. If they are 8 for 8 on liability, it’s just a question of dollars–BUT THAT ISSUE HAS MULTIPLE COMPONENTS AND CAN TAKE DAYS. If jury is 4 of 8 for liability or something else, things get complicated.
6. The Foreperson is a “moderator”, making sure that everyone is courtesy and fair minded. A good Foreperson maintains an attitude of mutual respect and good will. We pray that a Foreperson with outstanding calm and superb people skills is selected. [It’s an ART to be a Foreperson.] One key trait: A presence and attitude that focuses only on THE FACTS/LAW IN THE DISPUTE BEFORE THEM. Avoid talk of “current events”; politics; media personalities; etc. Anything which tends to incite hostility; animosity; or intolerance should be excluded.
7. This jury must render judgment on MULTIPLE CLAIMS OF DAMAGES. That can take days, as the Foreperson goes around the room in order asking for opinions; allowing (RESPECTFUL) disagreement; seeking CONSENSUS. The jurors become “advocates” of their positions; they reference exhibits; look at their notes to provide “sound bites/quotes” which support their position. AGAIN, the Foreperson wants MUTUAL RESPECT, EVEN CORDIALITY.
8. Cordiality is assisted by JURORS GOING TO LUNCH TOGETHER, with a Bailiff as “sheep dog” watching the flock. NO ONE GETS NEAR JURY AT LUNCH, AND THEY RARELY DISCUSS THE CASE–it is a pleasing opportunity to “bond some more” and have a break from their task. JURORS WORK HARD. THEY HAVE A HUGE BURDEN. THEY ARE ABOUT TO HAVE IT “ALL COME DOWN ON THEIR HEADS!”
9 Jurors can ASK THE JUDGE for assistance in resolving issues about which serious disagreement has arisen. QUESTIONS FROM THE JURY are submitted in writing. Once given by Bailiff to Judge, HE CALLS BOTH ATTORNEYS and they “formulate” an answer. That process can take time and produe “appealable issues” for the future, as one side or another makes FORMAL OBJECTIONS “FOR THE RECORD”.
10. Juror disagreement about DAMAGES w-i-l-l o-c-cu-r-e. [One absolute “no-no” = “quotient verdict” where everyone writes down amounts they want to give; “these secret numbers are put into a hat”; a total is made and divided by 8. NO NO NO. NOT ALLOWED.
11. SOMETIMES, animosity can arise; people can become INFLEXIBLE; positions can become cemented; tempers can flare. I DO NOT BELIEVE THESE PEOPLE, WHOM I HAVE NEVER MET, WILL SUFFER SUCH INCOMPATIBILITY. I pray they do not. I HAVE FELT A GREAT INNER PEACE ABOUT THIS FAMILY; THEIR CLAIMS; AND THE OUTCOME OF THIS DISPUTE. [And, yes, I do use “all caps” at times. In my former legal writing I could use: bold, underlining; and italics. Here, I’ve got one lousy little option–caps.]
11. With at least four (4) different “causes of action” [damage theories] AND multiple elements of DAMAGES for each cause of action. That’s a lot of work. IF the jury returns by Friday evening, I AM WORRIED.
12. Complications can arise where jury cannot get 6 of 8 agreement about key issues. “Mistrials” are possible, but Judges almost always just “call them into the courtroom for a pep talk about respecting each other’s opinions and getting the job done”.
13. Complexities are endless. Potential land mines abound. Possibilities for error run rampant. But there is a Higher Power at work in Ohio, and a valiant family who has faithfully served their neighbors for DECADES should feel the good wishes and fervent prayers of others around the world seeking their success.
14. Ephesians 6:12 has been invoked: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

Plaintiffs fight for me. In my secret places and quiet times I pray for them. I watch for the Lord’s hand to be manifest.

    Brave Sir Robbin in reply to counsel4pay. | June 5, 2019 at 9:11 pm

    The hand of God is in everything, including granting mankind freewill to be fallible and imperfect.

    You are quite correct to point out foreman selection is vital to outcome, but so too if there exists a strong willed rebel in the group who disrupts the proceedings and diverts weaker jury members who do not care so much about just outcome than trying to see different factions in the jury mollified, because they are uncomfortable with conflict, and who then give in to the most adamant member or members. Some people confuse passion with being right about a matter at issue. I have seen strong willed and domineering individuals completely take control of a group.

    It is good for plaintiff that only six of the eight jurists need to reach consensus, however.

    pst314 in reply to counsel4pay. | June 5, 2019 at 9:15 pm

    Here, I’ve got one lousy little option–caps.

    Would you like to know how to use italics and underlines in your comments?

      counsel4pay in reply to pst314. | June 5, 2019 at 9:52 pm

      Heck yes. I’m an octogenarian fossil. I wrote my first trial brief on an IBM “mag card I”! I’m still more “analogue” thn digital”. All suggestions gratefully accepted.

        pst314 in reply to counsel4pay. | June 5, 2019 at 10:02 pm

        My sympathies. Especially since i have noticed that some tech is not designed to be easy for us fossils to learn and use.

        These are the three that I am familiar with:
        [i]italics[/i]
        [b]bold[/b]
        [strike]strikethrough[/strike]
        but replace the “[” and “]” square brackets with the “less than” and “greater than” angle brackets. (Those angle brackets are part of the html language syntax, and therefore I cannot use them when typing this comment.)

        The tag for underlining has changed, so I need to learn the new method. The old method, [u], no longer works.

        There are also simple codes for things like the “TM” trademark superscript which is “&trade” plus a semicolon.

        To embed an image, use [img src=”url”] where url is the internet link to the image and the brackets are as before.

        Use the “preview” button to try these out before posting.

        Happy to be of help.

          pst314 in reply to pst314. | June 5, 2019 at 10:02 pm

          And again, thank you for your many detailed comments on the legal aspects of this case.

          The Friendly Grizzly in reply to pst314. | June 6, 2019 at 11:45 am

          Just [s] and [/s] works for strikethroughs, and, as near as I can find, [u] and [/u] still work for underscore.

          Another useful one is [blockquote] and [/blockquote]

          The above need the of course.

    Brave Sir Robbin in reply to counsel4pay. | June 5, 2019 at 10:37 pm

    Yes, I too greatly enjoy your commentary and insight. Thank you for your contributions.

“Something happened…” This is the new liberal/Democrat legal excuse for atrocities and crimes that they would prefer the public not know the circumstances of.

I hope the jury members watched Chernobyl this week and somehow the phrase “not great, not terrible” made it into the the defense summary. 😉

JusticeDelivered | June 5, 2019 at 10:21 pm

I pray that the jurors hammer Oberlin College. Also, if either the college or students continue libel-defamation or other torts against Gibsons, and there is any proof of such, they should be sued again.

Diversity or color judgment, including racism, breeds adversity.

Brave Sir Robbin | June 5, 2019 at 10:34 pm

For what it matters and for what it’s worth, use the prospect of going to trial simply as a threat to force a settlement. Once it goes to trial, both sides have lost control of the situation, and no one can really predict the outcome, even if it’s a bench trial.

Trial is a bluffed threat, not a hoped for event. Hopefully your adversary will be of sound mind and knows of reality with some possession of sense, and you settle. But even this process is painful and expensive as both sides may decide to play chicken to draw the most from the other.

Use the legal process with care and foreboding, and take great care to remain in control of the process.

I predict a plaintiffs verdict this week if they get the instructions early tomorrow. That quote about fire and brimstone is gold. And unlike a lot of other jurisdictions this one doesn’t have to be unanimous.

The jury will pick it’s foreperson and take a poll on liability. The bulk of their time will be spent on damages.

Or maybe this it’s just wishful thinking on my part that fire and brimstone rain down on these arrogant snotty thugs

What I don’t understand is why they defended the criminals.

    artichoke in reply to ConradCA. | June 6, 2019 at 12:29 am

    Because they want the same things as those criminals. As undergrads they were the same sort of jerks, and such people have been favored in academia in our lifetimes.

Defense attorney Panza said “Once it got going on the fast track down the rails, Meredith Raimondo made sure there were no one was one those tracks to be injured.”

Huh?

George_Kaplan | June 6, 2019 at 2:33 am

Oberlin College wanted to see fire and brimstone. Lets hope the jury gives it to them – a multi-million dollar fine!

The trend I am seeing and hoe will be crushed with this trial is how so many on the Left, in colleges, on social media, and elsewhere, do something that is completely wrong and then, when accused of malfeasance, claim it was not their fault for they were only observers to others who were really in charge.
>
It seems the one overarching defining characteristic of the Left in today’s world is how they take responsibility for nothing and point fingers at everyone esle for the crime they themselves commit. “It’s not my fault that I robbed and shot the man because society persecuted because I am a member of the Wothi clan of weather forecasters from Outer Slobovia. It was the nonstop questions about where I was from, my age, and why do I wear a funny hat that drove me over the edge. It’s society’s fault not mine.” Worse still is how so many others jump to their support by justifying their absurd excuses as though they were real.
>
I am so tired of hearing excuses always blaming others because people were supposedly not in control of their own actions. Perhaps trials like this one (assuming Gibson’s Bakery wins) will start to turn the tide, but, then again, there are always the Leftist judges who support these absurd arguments so who knows. (Also, have you noticed how only avowed Leftists are justified in these excuses and anyone not in the club who tries these excuses are shot down immediately?)

smalltownoklahoman | June 6, 2019 at 7:23 am

Those emails at the end: classic mistake of this era. In this day and age you have to assume that any communications you do over the internet relevant to a case you may be involved in can and most likely will be acquired by opposing legal teams and used against you in court. Those emails could very well be what turns this case against the college.

    Not just those emails, but the lack of any responding emails that repudiate such sentiments.

    There is no doubt that Raimondo’s failed attempt at humor as in “unleash the students” will be a quote remembered longer than her name. Hopefully, she will bear the bear the ignomy of writing something memorable while she herself isn’t.

      MajorWood in reply to Cogsys. | June 6, 2019 at 10:57 am

      Hopefully the Co-op Bookstore has a copy of Marshall Rosenberg’s “Nonviolent Communication” which she can browse during any upcoming “off time.”

      rochf in reply to Cogsys. | June 6, 2019 at 11:21 am

      Given her earlier comments and behavior, I didn’t interpret this as an attempt at humor–I think she truly would have unleashed the students if she thought it wouldn’t backfire on the college.

      artichoke in reply to Cogsys. | June 6, 2019 at 5:08 pm

      Not humor. She knew she had substantial control over their actions.

OB Resident | June 6, 2019 at 11:50 am

First of all, thanks for following this case in detail and providing additional insight.
As a townie, some additional perspective:
This whole event was an unlikely confluence of events – and the reporters comments that this would have been largely a non-issue had it happened some period before or after the election is spot on. The vast majority consensus in Oberlin is that the Gibson’s are good people, and the protests did nothing to change folks opinion. (probably had the reverse effect). After the Gibson’s win this case – I do not think there will be any significant protests or danger. It is interesting to read some of the hysterical comments on this site that suggest otherwise.

Oberlin College is an outlier – and a poster child for PC run amok. For further amusement, search for Oberlin College and the klansman robe hoax; cultural appropriation of food service; and trigger warnings -safe spaces. I think fair to say that most faculty (older tenured faculty) just shake their heads and lament the influence (and the expansion) of the administration and some of the young deans that have been brought on board. This further turn leftward is mainly with the intent of attracting and keeping a certain type of student – Oberlin is-was very much protecting their brand. Even so, it is amusing to see some of the comments on this website projecting this case as an example of the potential threat to the end of western civilization. This episode certainly provides fodder for that line of motivated reasoning.

As to the merits of the case – i don’t think it can be (reasonably) disputed that Gibson’s has been injured and defamed. This would have been the case regardless of the Deans involvement and the College administrations involvement in trying to muscle the Gibson’s into shoplifting intervention. I think the defense made a reasonable argument on this issue. But I think the colleges involvement does give Gibson’s the smoking gun to sway juror opinions. And the defense has been expert in deflecting attention to other potential motivations (for example, the ridiculous theory that the college covets Gibson’s property to the lengths of conspiring to put him out of business), and ginning up the potential loss of income to hilarious levels only matched by the equally laughable estimation of the value of $35,000.

It won’t substantially change the trajectory of the college, which we can all continue to follow out of curiosity. It will however, probably result in a firm directive on the use of email and texts among staff.

    artichoke in reply to OB Resident. | June 6, 2019 at 5:14 pm

    Buying up undesired neighborhood elements adjacent to campus is a typical practice for well endowed schools. MIT has bought up a lot of formerly slummy Kendall Square. Yale put its new police station where one used to hear gunshots if one lived nearby. University of Chicago has tried to buy up the neighborhood around it, but it’s been stopped by an energetic and watchful anti-gentrification movement.

    So from what I’ve seen of universities, it doesn’t seem a stretch at all to think that Oberlin would want to become the owners of a property in town. It bought the movie theater didn’t it?

    I am far away and have never been to Oberlin. But I’ve seen a lot of what colleges and universities do.

      OB Resident in reply to artichoke. | June 6, 2019 at 9:15 pm

      The college does buy up property, and they usually over pay for it. Occasionally to the benefit of the community (the Apollo theatre as an example). The point in the original message was that it was a kooky conspiracy theory to suggest they were trying to put Gibson’s out of business to get their property.

Conservative0317 | June 7, 2019 at 10:09 am

It has been my opinion that the letter presented by Lee Plakas should be included in the ruling against Oberlin as something the college should be made to read aloud to the student body and at a press conference to be broadcast as far and wide as possible.

Looking at Raimondo’s pic, I’m reminded of what my mom taught me as a kid … “if you can’t say anything nice about a person, keep quiet”. So I’m keeping quiet.

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