Update in the Case of the Criminal Law Professor Who May Be Fired For His Classroom Hypotheticals

Readers will remember the case of Lawrence Connell, the tenured Widener Law School criminal law professor who was put on leave and may be fired because of his classroom hypotheticals. The faculty committee in charge of reviewing the case has recommended that the Dismissal for Cause be withdrawn while other disciplinary proceedings are being pursued. Here’s the relevant text of the letter:

March 7, 2011
TO: Dean Linda Ammons & Professor Lawrence Connell
FROM: Informal Committee of Inquiry
RE: Dismissal for Cause Charges against Professor Connell

In our role as the Informal Committee of Inquiry, pursuant to Article V, Section 2, charged at this point in time to undertake efforts to informally resolve the status of the Dismissal For Cause Action commenced February 24, 2011 regarding Professor Lawrence Connell, and in light of the proceedings also now underway pursuant to Section 6 of The Widener University Faculty Member Discrimination and Harassment Code concerning Professor Connell, and in the interest of efficient resolution of these issues, we recommend withdrawal of the Dismissal for Cause Action, but without prejudice, thus preserving the possibility of the action being recommenced in the future upon re-filing.


Alicia Kelly, Associate Professor of Law
Michael J. Goldberg, Professor of Law
Nathaniel Nichols, Associate Professor of Law

I’m not sure I understand what this means, as it’s not clear to me what the other “proceedings” are that are “underway,” but according to Connell’s lawyer, quoted at the NAS blog, it’s very good news: According to his lawyer, Connell is “very happy over the recommendation to dismiss the charges against him. He hopes his nightmare is over.”

For more on this case, here is Professor Connell’s affidavit explaining his view of what happened. Notably, the affidavit goes into detail about the allegations against Connell, which have been very vague so far.

It seems inevitable that the press is going to be on this case to figure out what was really going on, so I do hope we will be hearing soon from Widener — and especially from Dean Linda Ammons — to explain their actions.