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ABA Urges Judge Not to Intervene In Accreditation Denial

Posted Jan 4, 2012 3:15 PM CDT
By Mark Hansen

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The ABA is urging a judge not to intervene in its decision (PDF) last month to deny provisional accreditation to a Tennessee law school that is now suing the association over alleged antitrust and due process violations.

In a brief (PDF) filed Tuesday, the ABA says that Duncan School of Law's motion (PDF) for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction ordering the ABA to remove the denial notice from its website and hold any accreditation decision in abeyance was both "undeserved and unprecedented."

The ABA says the Knoxville, Tenn.-based school has not yet exhausted its right to appeal the Dec. 20 decision by the governing council of the Section on Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, its law school accrediting arm. It also says that Duncan has failed to show that it is likely to prevail on the merits of its claims or that it has been irreparably harmed by the denial of provisional accreditation.

Ordering the ABA to remove notice of the Council's decision from the Section's website would also censor truthful speech, conceal information about which the public has a right to know and interfere with the section's free speech rights, the brief says.

Duncan sued the ABA in federal court last month after its bid for provisional accreditation was denied. The suit alleges that the decision was both arbitrary and capricious, and was motivated by a desire to restrain trade and limit law school competition.

The ABA maintains that Duncan failed to meet several of its Standards for Approval of Law Schools, including one requiring law schools to have and adhere to sound academic standards, one requiring law schools to demonstrate that they have specific goals for improving their program and one prohibiting schools from enrolling students who do not appear capable of satisfactorily completing their educational programs.

Hulett "Bucky" Askew, the ABA's Consultant on Legal Education, declined comment on the filing.

Duncan officials could not be reached for comment.

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