Namaste: If Not Now, When? Chapter 10 Whistleblowing Along The Path With Heart (Part 2)

Chapter 10 (Part 2)

Whistleblowing Along The Path With Heart

We also were concerned that the American Bar Association (ABA) would never accredit our school as long as the dean was connected with it because we had just learned that the ABA had denied us provisional accreditation. Our law library, most of which was stored out of sight in boxes in a back room in the library, did not comply with minimum ABA requirements and the dean had misrepresented what we had to the ABA in our application for accreditation. He also had lied to us about what was packed-up awaiting new floor space and shelving. We were shocked by this news as we expected to receive provisional accreditation from the ABA. Indeed, the ABA site-visit team gave our faculty its highest rating.

The judge wrote a confidential letter to the chairman of the council expressing our concerns and the chairman immediately sent the dean a copy. Enraged by our discovery of his criminal activities, the dean promptly fired us and called a news conference in which he denied all wrongdoing. He also produced affidavits from several students who praised him for his inspirational leadership and denied that there were any problems at the school. Calling us disgruntled law professors, he dismissed our claims as false allegations motivated by a desire to destroy the value of the school in order to force him to sell it to us at a fire-sale price. Not surprisingly, the student affidavits upon which he relied to refute our allegations, were signed by students who had benefitted from his schemes. The local newspaper, which is owned by the chairman of the council, immediately lapsed into its best rendition of that old saw, he-said, she-said, and I hustled on down to the unemployment office to file my first claim.

Many of the students who had confided in us stepped up to defend us, and several weeks later the minority lawyer-shareholder filed a civil RICO and shareholder’s derivative action in federal court against the deans and their accountant. The judge persuaded an old friend, who is a lawyer, to represent the students and the case was underway with the good citizens of Paducah now hopelessly confused by the non-Pulitzer-Prize-winning staff of the local rag that serves as a newspaper.

After a considerable amount of public posturing and the usual breast-beating lawyer games associated with affairs of this nature during which the deans and their accountant continued to feign innocence while looting what remained of the school’s assets, the lawyers representing the deans and their accountant floated the ye-olde-fictitious-buyer ploy, in which they produced a so-called “serious buyer” with an equally serious offer, whose wife had suddenly inherited millions of dollars, to instill panic in our ranks and, not coincidentally, to jack-up the price to settle the case. The lawyer shareholder responded by slamming one of the lawyers representing the deans up against the wall during a settlement conference and the deans thereafter settled the case by signing over all of their worthless stock in the now bankrupt law school to the lawyer-shareholder in exchange for his promise to assume the school’s debts and pay off its creditors.

The lawyer, who now owned 100% of the worthless stock, created a new corporation that he called the Barkley Law School, Inc, and entered into a joint venture with a local pain-management physician to construct a new law library adjacent to the existing building. After assuring us that money would not be a problem because he had substantial financial backing from several local millionaires, he reinstated the judge and me with full back-pay, appointed the judge Interim Dean, and commenced a search to hire a new dean. At our first faculty meeting the judge announced that we had scheduled a return site visit for the ABA accreditation team in the fall and, assuming it went well, we would obtain ABA provisional accreditation in time for our charter class to graduate from an accredited school. Let the good times roll, we thought, as we returned to work almost three months to the day after we were fired.

The good times did not last long, however, because the financial backers never materialized and the new owner refused to pay the creditors of the now defunct American Justice School of Law. The judge submitted his resignation in disgust as he wanted no part of corporation shell games to stiff creditors whom he had promised to pay as the Interim Dean. I also would have quit, but I was in desperate financial straits after the three-month layoff and I did not want to abandon my students.

With great fanfare and speechifying at a no-alcohol party in town, the lawyer and the doctor announced that the school now would be known as the Barkley Law School and they unveiled the blueprints for the new library together with the blueprints to remodel the existing building. They also introduced the new dean whom the lawyer had hired to replace the judge.

At his first faculty meeting, the new dean announced that he had decided to cancel the fall site visit and he would not schedule a new visit before the spring of 2010. I immediately realized that meant that all of our current students would graduate before the school was accredited. He followed that announcement with a warning. He ordered us not to discuss his decision with anyone outside of a faculty meeting, including our marriage partners, and said he would fire anyone who leaked that information to the students.

I could not in good conscience abide by his decision, regardless of the consequences to myself. Such was my commitment to my students. So, I told them and urged them to transfer to an accredited law school as soon as possible and I promised to do everything within my power to help with that process. Sure enough, the new dean fired me as promised, but not before I assisted my students to transfer to other schools.

As I write this in July 2011, I am extremely pleased and proud to announce that most of my students have graduated from accredited law schools and passed their bar exams.

Welcome to the practice of law my friends. May you never forget the importance of following the path with heart.

Next up: Chapter 11 The Plot In Paducah Thickens: Crane-Station’s Arrest And Prosecution

Cross-Posted at Firedoglake and the Smirking Chimp.

If Not Now, When? is my intellectual property. I retain full rights to my own work. You may copy it and share it with others, but only if you credit me as the author. You may not sell or offer to sell it for any form of consideration. I retain full rights to publication.

My real name is Frederick Leatherman. I was a criminal-defense lawyer for 30 years specializing in death-penalty defense and forensics. I also was a law professor for three years.

Now I am a writer and I also haul scrap for a living in this insane land.




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4 Comments on “Namaste: If Not Now, When? Chapter 10 Whistleblowing Along The Path With Heart (Part 2)”

  1. You know, I have to tell you, I really enjoy this blog and the insight from everyone who participates. I find it to be refreshing and very informative. I wish there were more blogs like it. Anyway, I felt it was about time I posted, Ive spent most of my time here just lurking and reading, but today for some reason I just felt compelled to say this.

    • masonblue Says:

      Thanks for your comment. I appreciate comments. Sorry it took me so long to respond, but the program defaulted your comment into the spam folder and I just found it when I reviewed the contents of my spam folder. Hopefully, it won’t make the same mistake again.

      I’m trying to post a chapter a day, but took today off.

      Stay tuned.


  2. Ed Griffith Says:

    This was a very interesting story. Law Schools are where lawyers are first formally introduced to the law and the impression lingers. I graduated from Woodrow Wilson Law School and was admitted to the Georgia Bar. Later the over 50 year old Law School was closed because it was not an ABA Law School, though it was approved by the Georgia Bar. Certainly ABA accreditation had a lot to do with making law school expensive, but not much to do with being inclusive to all members of society or – as far as I could see – the quality of education.

  3. Rick Wood Says:

    Yes. I like it too.

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