Labor & Employment

Embattled Widener Law Prof Suspended for 1 Year Without Pay, Ordered to Get Psychiatric Treatment


Twice exonerated by faculty panels of making racist and sexist statements, a Widener University law professor was, however, found by the second panel to have retaliated against the students who made the accusations against him.

Now Lawrence Connell, who taught at the school for 26 years, has been suspended for a year without pay and ordered to apologize and get psychiatric treatment, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Connell, who has been on paid leave, is suing the school and other defendants for defamation. His lawyer, Thomas Neuberger, called the punishment “draconian” and inappropriate, saying that it is “irrational to acquit a person of being a racist and sexist and then say he needs a psychiatric exam,” the newspaper reports. He also says Connell is going to look for another job.

As detailed in a previous ABAJournal.com post, Connell, who is white, reportedly used a hypothetical in his criminal procedure class in which law school dean Linda Ammons, who is black, was shot: For a Second Time, Widener Law Prof’s Classroom Hypos Pass University Review.

An Associated Press article notes that law bloggers have come to Connell’s defense. Among them, clinical professor William Jacobson of Cornell Law School says in a post on Legal Insurrection that it was “outrageous” for Widener to punish Connell for defending himself against false accusations of racist and sexist conduct on his part.

“Widener’s requirement of a psychiatric evaluation under these circumstances clearly is intended to further damage Connell even though the committee found no conduct which reflected any alleged psychiatric or anger management issues,” writes Jacobson. “Connell simply defended himself.”

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