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Oberlin College – Gibson’s Bakery Tag

In ways that are both irritating and interesting, the opening statements by the attorneys in Gibson Bros. v. Oberlin College shows how jurors may have a hard time defining the event in question accurately. The question is whether a fairly elite, liberal arts college (Oberlin College) defamed and libeled a small family run business (Gibson’s Bakery & Market) with racial overtones. All this in a time when the different political and cultural tribes were picking sides on just about everything, the day after Donald Trump's election.

Given its complex nature, the jury selection for the Gibson Bros v. Oberlin College civil case trial will not be finished until Thursday, with the first witness not taking the stand until Friday. The intricacies showed up on Wednesday when potential jurors were questioned on their views of the rights of criminal victims, freedom of speech, religious forgiveness of those who steal, and the nature of how does one react when one’s reputation is damaged by social media bullies.

With the lawsuit that decides whether a liberal arts college defamed a more than century-old small business with racist accusations getting officially underway Wednesday with jury selection, there was one major motion that had to be decided. No, it wasn’t whether Oberlin College has officially subscribed to a Maoist-crypto-neo-anarcho-communist state of education in recent years. It was about how does a court define how a dollar amount is determined if a jury arrives at the conclusion that the defendant did defame the plaintiff.

With the Gibson Bros v. Oberlin College lawsuit set to begin jury selection on Wednesday, I want to pursue the discussion of why this case hasn’t received more national publicity. Specifically, let’s look at why the national politicians, who crave attention on various issues that keep them elected, haven’t used this case to bolster their left or right viewpoints.

With the first week of Legal Insurrection's coverage of the famed “liberal arts humanitarianism and defamation lawsuit” trial ending, word now is that jury selection has been pushed back even further. Given that Lorain County court Judge John R. Miraldi also handles drug courts on Monday and Tuesday mornings, and given that Judge Miraldi has a few more evidentiary rulings to ponder, jury selection will now begin on Wednesday morning, May 8.

With Gibson Bros. v. Oberlin College scheduled to start trial this week, there is much back and forth among political and legal analysts as to “what it is” and “what it is not.” For the most part, regardless of the political leanings of the various parties observing from the outside, this is still a basic tort law case involving libel and defamation.

Oberlin College President Carmen Twillie Ambar send an email to the college community on August 23, 2018, followed by a similar email to alumni, regarding faculty sexual misconduct. The situation presented was stark: The college received "several" accusations of faculty sexual misconduct from alumni, leading certain faculty members to resign rather than participate in an investigation.

We previously covered the lawsuit brought by the local Gibson's Bakery against Oberlin College and its Dean of Students, Meredith Raimondo. The lawsuit arises out of accusations by Oberlin College students, allegedly assisted by Raimondo and others at the college, that Gibson's was racist and engaged in racial profiling after the arrest of three black Oberlin College students for shoplifting. Protests outside Gibson's ensued, as did a boycott of Gibson's by students and the college.

Oberlin College attempted to subpoena the communications of WAJ Media LLC (dba Legal Insurrection) with sources regarding our reporting on an Ohio lawsuit by Gibson's Bakery of Oberlin, Ohio, against Oberlin College and its Dean of Students, Meredith Raimondo. The subpoena specifically sought our communications with the attorneys for Gibson's, who had provided us with a statement about the case that we published as part of our reporting, Gibson’s Bakery sues Oberlin College over racial profiling accusations, Oberlin cuts business ties:

Oberlin College faces serious financial challenges, resulting from a variety of factors, particularly a decline in enrollment. The "social justice" turmoil of recent years at Oberlin, the focus of local and national media coverage and mockery, likely was a contributing factor, as we pointed out in September 2017, Radical fallout: Oberlin College enrollment drops, causing financial problems:

Oberlin College and its Dean of Students Meredith Raimondo are defending a lawsuit brought by the local Gibson's Bakery after in incident in which three Oberlin College students were arrested for shoplifting. Oberlin students launched protests and a boycott of the bakery claiming racial profiling of the students. The college itself cut off business with the bakery, and the lawsuit alleges, assisted in helping organize the protests. The three students eventually pleaded guilty, but that didn't stop the controversy. The boycott continued even after police released data showing there was no racial profiling in shoplifting arrests at the bakery.
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