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Law Prof Sues Students, Says They Defamed Him by Calling Him a Racist

Posted May 1, 2008 5:47 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A constitutional law professor at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock has filed a defamation suit against two students that says they wrongly accused him of being a racist.

The suit by Richard Peltz says he took part in a legitimate debate on affirmative action at the invitation of the Black Law Students Association, the New York Times reports. The two student defendants, Valerie Nation and Chrishuana Clark, are 3Ls.

Besides the students, the suit names the local chapter of the student association, an association of black lawyers called the W. Harold Flowers Law Society in Little Rock, and the law society's president, Eric Buchanan.

Members of the law students association had complained in a March 2007 letter to the law school dean about a 2005 incident in which Peltz showed a satirical article from the Onion about the death of Rosa Parks, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports. He also was accused of criticizing affirmative action and promising to award an extra point to black students who scored the same as whites on an exam.

The W. Harold Flowers Law Society had supported the students.

The Democrat-Gazette obtained internal e-mails about the incidents under the Freedom of Information Act.

In one of them, Peltz wrote: “I would like know when these students will be told that libel and slander is not the way for them to earn respect and to demonstrate merit. It seems that they are able to complain, to accuse, to offend, without end, and everyone is expected just to take it. My students, my best students, our law review editors, are being bad-mouthed not only in the school, but in law firms and practice circles too. But no one in authority at UALR seems to be looking out for them, and they know it. Well, let’s see what kind of alumni relations develop from that experience.”

Peltz said in an internal complaint filed with the school that the 2005 incident had already been resolved, but it was reopened because he supported a law review member who was criticized for failing to appoint black students to the editorial board. Two black students traveling for a moot court competition weren’t able to attend a “meet-and-greet” for interested applicants and were not selected for the board.

Nation commented on the suit in an e-mail to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. “I am shocked and disheartened to learn that I have been sued by one of my professors,” she wrote.

Article updated on 05-02-2008 to clarify that the campus is located at Little Rock.

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