Harvard and Ronald Sullivan, why Harvard was basically right

I hope your head doesn’t explode, but it seems to me that Harvard and Matt Yglesias are right about the dismissal of Sullivan from his Winthrop House post at Harvard.  Matt explains:

Sullivan isn’t a public defender who’s simply taking the clients assigned to him. He’s not even a full-time criminal defense lawyer who just takes whichever clients happen to come through his door. He’s a busy guy who has classes to teach, a dorm to administer, and various other demands on his time. While it’s obviously true that all criminal defendants have a right to an attorney, it’s equally obvious that criminal defendants don’t have a particular right to Ronald Sullivan’s services.

Now, I don’t doubt that Harvard may have acted for what in part are the wrong reasons, namely asymmetric treatment of left-and right wing causes and cases.  Still, it seems reasonable to me that Harvard insists that its faculty dorm administrators face a minimum of outside distractions, especially controversial distractions, without having to judge whose fault is the controversy (Sullivan’s fault? Harvard’s fault? the fault of the possibly “snowflaky” students?).  Maybe Harvard would have been unfair and inconsistent had another, non-Weinstein defendant been involved, still that does not make Sullivan’s dismissal the wrong decision.

On top of that, having “snowflake” students in the dorm is still a reason to make Sullivan choose either the dorm or the legal case — complainers don’t always have to be correct for their wishes to have some validity.  It really is about helping students focus on their studies, and sometimes that might mean removing distractions which distract for maybe not entirely rational reasons.  Furthermore, in this case maybe the distraction was rational to some extent (I genuinely do not know on that one as I do not have direct information, Matt thinks yes but in my view leaps to quickly to that conclusion).

Let’s say I hired a TA for my Econ 101 class, and then I learned that TA would be defending Edward Snowden in his or her spare time.  Probably I would ask for another TA!  And that has nothing to do with my view of Snowden, one way or the other, or whether my students have rational views of Snowden or not (I genuinely do not know if they do).

With the Sullivan/Weinstein episode, it is not difficult to imagine the media becoming “too interested” in Winthrop House and Sullivan’s role, for media-prurient reasons, and to the detriment of student focus.  It is not crazy for Harvard to choke this off before it gets started, with no animus required toward Sullivan or any particular defendant.

Note also this from Matt:

At least some of the heat around this topic stems from a measure of confusion among the general public as to what the job of faculty dean amounts to. It sounds like a lofty academic post but actually is closer to being a kind of glorified RA — though even this is arguably an overstatement of the role.

Overall, I don’t think this is the right cause for free speech advocates, opponents of PC in universities, etc.  It seems to me like a private institution making an entirely defensible governance decision, on a matter which does quite genuinely fall under its governance purview.


Yes. A big part of the reason why Sullivan was useful to Weinstein was his affiliation with Harvard. Should Harvard be contributing its brand name to Weinstein's defense? No. It is ok for Hardvard to ditch him. Perhaps regrettable that the original deal between Harvard and Sullivan did not make this clear.

Alan Dershowitz helped to defend a whole cast of unsavory characters while serving as a member of the faculty at Harvard, and although he's emeritus now, he also has served as a consultant for Weinstein's defense, so Harvard's brand name is already associated with all of them.

The difference is Sullivan's role of faculty dean, for which there is colorable pretext for asking him to choose.

Mike Tyson should have sued AD for malpractice. I'm not joking. His strategy was "ludicrous" (although I'm sure that's what Mike wanted, nevertheless as his mouthpiece, AD should have advised more wisely and turned down the money if Mike refused. I'm assuming that AD knew what wise advice would have been. but being a Harvard law professor, lacking street smarts, maybe he didn't, in this particular case. By which I mean he wasn't the right lawyer for the job).

It's all cowardly rationalization by Harvard. If anything Harvard should be supporting the free choices that lawyers make. This puts a pall over the profession and fear that choosing the wrong client might destroy their career. What next? No trial at all for anyone accused of crimes that the PC correct crowd dislikes?

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I get Yglesias. He gets paid by the word-count.

End income inequality. Abolish the Ivy League.

Everything Cowen and Yglesias just wrote is bull shit.

You people never learned the second two- word phrase every first day law student learns, "Prove It." The first phrase is "It Depends."

That's as much explanation as that bull shit merits.

You actually do not seem to get Yglesias at all

No, he said everything ygie wrote is bullshit. I would say he get him.

Sullivan has defended indigent clients and black clients and yet it is only now that suddenly his legal work is a distraction and his performance a problem? Just a coincidence it coincides with a student protest?

The argument is highly disingenuous. There is no principled difference between a public defender and Sullivan taking on Weinstein which depends on 'choice': after all, does not the public defender make a *choice* to represent each client? If they refused a client, would they even be fired? Given the reality of public defenders, being fired would result in a major pay raise for them. And does not a law firm make a *choice* about each client? They are neither legally nor contractually bound to take 'every client that comes in a door' (not that this would deprive them of their free will any more than the public defender). Is Sullivan busy? Well, so is everyone; if they aren't busy with dorms, they're busy with children, relatives, research, self-improvement, charity, or any of an infinity of worthwhile ends. This supposed distinction about 'choice' and being 'busy', being meaningless and applicable to all possible lawyers, is nothing but an attack on the idea of representation at all for defendants.

But he retains his association with Harvard. They didn't fire him as a professor.

I have not the slightest idea of what you are talking about.

Is it my ignorance or your provincialism?

Harvard is an American university in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Mr. Sullivan is a lawyerand Faculty Dean of Winthrop House.

Overrun by old and young people that cannot decide which shit house to use.

Are the new bathroom signs confusing to you, hun?

"It sounds like a lofty academic post but actually is closer to being a kind of glorified RA"

Resident Advisers these days seem to tend toward being Volunteer Auxiliary Thought Policepersons.

They do get paid though, Steve. By the college.

Unless you're implying that's just their side-hustle...

My thesis advisor was a former "dean" of Winthrop House, at that time called a "house master." It's a sweet gig. You live in a luxury apartment in the residence hall on campus, you have servants who do everything for you. You're treated like royalty, at the university's expense.

Being a Mob Lawyer is a well paid specialty, but it's also tends to render you a little tainted in reputation. The old mayor of Las Vegas, Oscar Goodman, was a Mob Lawyer, but that seems like a Vegas thing. I wouldn't think most cities would elect a Mob Lawyer as mayor.

I used to point out that Dick Cheney's chief of staff Scooter Libby had been Marc Rich's long time lawyer, and that in my view Rich was a mobster on a global scale, so that would make Libby a Mob Lawyer and therefore not appropriate for the vice president. But not too many could follow my logic.

One question would be is whether Harvey Weinstein qualifies as a mobster. Perhaps his close connections to the Clintons?

But did the Harvard lawyer regularly represent Weinstein or is this the first time? If Weinstein's trial is supposed to be a grand show trial of the New Dispensation, it would seem reasonable that a famous lawyer would be encouraged to parachute in. For example, Clarence Darrow was vastly praised for representing thrill-kill cultists Leopold and Loeb and saving them from the death penalty with a giant closing speech (which was absurd, but that's a different matter).

It seems like there is a push lately for Designated Bad People to not get adequate legal representation, like in the Charlottesville trial and now Weinstein.

Sullivan can still practice law defending The Bad People TM. Just not as a faculty dean at Harvard. Sullivan can manage his own brand just as Harvard must manage theirs.

There is a recent trend toward society denying strong legal representation to defendants who have been deemed Bad People before their trial.

Now that I mention it, that's sounds like the logline to some 1970s movie about how awful the McCarthy Era was.

If this trend of what you say is true, Weinstein wouldn't be a good example of it. Obviously his opposition, who are celebrities that can afford high-priced lawyers of their own, will try to do their best and this is probably one result of it but even without Sullivan, he still has a very strong legal dream team. He loses a Harvard law professor but still has 3 celebrity lawyers and a former Manhattan prosecutor.

Hopefully those three celebrity lawyers and the former Manhattan prosecutor don't have anything else going on in their lives other than defending un-persons.

I mean, they can, they just have to make sure it's not affiliated with anyone or anything that's On The Right Side Of History™. Don't want to confuse anyone by jumping from one side to the other. Maybe they could be Grand Wizards or serial killers or Richard Spencer's alter-ego. They probably are, honestly. Who else is going to defend a certified monster like Weinstein in a courtroom.

'Who else is going to defend a certified monster like Weinstein in a courtroom'

Pretty much any attorney willing to take a big enough fee. Upfront, admittedly - Weinstein seems like a poor client. 'Another prominent law firm is parting ways with The Weinstein Co., but this time it isn't related to the sexual harassment and assault allegations plaguing ousted co-founder Harvey Weinstein.

Greenberg Glusker, lead by veteran Bert Fields, is asking the court for permission to leave a rights dispute because it hasn't been paid — and, in doing so, the firm underscores that it is not involved in the ongoing sexual scandals.

Donald Borchers sued in August, asking the court for a declaration that he holds film rights to projects based on Stephen King's Children of the Corn. Borchers claims he licensed some rights to sequels or remakes of the film to Miramax but kept for himself certain rights, and he wants the court to make sense of the mess.' https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/thr-esq/weinstein-being-dropped-by-longtime-lawyer-failure-pay-legal-bills-1067692

This is the part not really being discussed - any attorney willing to take on the grief to defend Weinstein at this point is making a choice to associate with an exceedingly bad client, apart from any criminal charges. Bad at least by the measure that most attorneys use - getting paid.

Basically, attorneys are free to choose their clients. However, the real monsters in most attorney's eyes are those clients who don't pay.

15 or so years ago there were attempts to brand the people defending the GitMo detainees as "terrorist lawyers" or something.

Weinstein is facing criminal charges. The state is a giant behemoth and he deserves representation, the same as the accused terrorists.

I am sympathetic to the theory that the RA is a role with its own sort-of "fiduciary duty" to take care of the students' emotional needs, even if they are incredibly dumb.

Marc Rich might prove too much -- it was, after all, Ruth Bader Ginsburg's husband, Martin, who co-authored the brief that justified Marc Rich's pardon.

Harvard Law can do whatever they want.

I can regard any lawyers that graduate from Harvard as useless craven shallow twits.

they are good at changing/controlling narratives.
did you notice how the harvard lawyers changed the narrative-
the climate review said being around sullivan was fraught because he
was a bad guy for representing the wrong client.
todays harvard spin has changed - the problem was Sullivan was not
around because of the law case
+1 squirrelly

Yep our elite have lost all honor. They dance around shifting their stances and shaping narratives to suit their interests. Scum they are.

Colonel Cathcart was indefatigable that way, an industrious, intense, dedicated military tactician who calculated day and night in the service of himself.

Now if only there were more reasonable, we're-not-always-right, they're-not-always-wrong people on the other side.

I guess the thought-experiment here is: would this man have been dismissed if, say, he were defending someone like Angela Davis? It doesn't make the current decision wrong, and I'm more or less convinced by the argument presented, but ...

good point
mebbe Dr. Cowen has been struck by flying space shuttle debris!
code icd9 e845.9
Sullivan was mostly punished for a perceived ideological crime
& todays explanation for his punishment (removal) is mostly
postmodern bullshit. the explicit goal is to punish lawyers based on
ideology thus reducing the potential lawyer pool for people who
occasionally find themselves in legal trouble often through
no fault of their own!

1 hat tip anon.

Sullivan has defended several accused murderers, and the students weren't bothered in the least. Whatever one might conclude about whether the students' complaints should be indulged as a procedural matter, they're not acting from some admirable or even consistent moral stance or any genuine concern. They're just posturing on the basis of recent headlines to enjoy a glow of self-righteousness.

"Free speech advocates" don't really care about free speech only the most marginal culture war battles. If they did they would raise hell about Khashoggi's murder by the KSA, the state-sponsored cyber firms in the Middle East that spy on journalists, or make some kind of noise about the Chinese Great Firewall which nobody even talks about even with the latest anti-China sentiments floating about. Free speech is under attack but nothing will be done if we spin our wheels by playing who got fired for saying what.

You can talk about "free speech advocates" as a movement not particularly placing activity in the Middle East or in China at the absolute heart of their concerns, and you'd probably be right that they don't.

(Although should they? These are... other countries. There's limited ability to even do anything about how they structure themselves, and less inclination for us to concern ourselves with the rights of foreign nationals.)

It's retarded to suggest that they none do as individuals though - personally speaking, most of the voices that I follow who are concerned about the chilling of free speech largely want to divest the US of its Saudi alliance or are extremely critical of it, and are relatively China hawksish and mention state censorship and control in China frequently.

Let's be blunt. Americans only care about the Almighty Dollar. That is why they support Red China and Saudi Arabia.

So by your logic NFL teams are well within their rights to not employ Colin Kapernick?

The snowflakes in the NFL censoring free speech they were offended by is deeply totalitarian and fascist.

Totally fair point. Of course, extending this logic shows Harvard to be more honest than any football team that refuses to employ Kaepernick and lies about the reasons why.

No NFL teams lie about the reasons why.

There just happen to be two. He sucks, AND he's an idiot.

What was the second payed job of the NFL player?

Virtue-signaller by proxy for Nike.

You mean shoe salesman. And a pretty successful one at that.

The nature of college and sports is very different. Sports is entertainment, and insulting the majority your fans is usually a bad move. The NFL should not be policing off the field speech, but restricting on field speech is typical and necessary. The flag protestors are multimillionaires with numerous opportunities for free speech on their own time.

Kaepernick was a washed up QB who lost his job because he sucked. Protesting the flag was his way of regaining the initiative. He is a loathsome POS using race as an excuse for his own failures. Similarly, Jussie Smollett was a minor character with an aggrandizing view of his own performance and entitlement. He staged an incident for higher pay and attention.

They both have Invisible Man Syndrome.

'(Sullivan’s fault? Harvard’s fault? the fault of the possibly “snowflaky” students?)'

And the only name that matters, due to his actual actions, is missing from that list.

The name of the man credibly accused of years of multiple crimes against a variety of women is Harvey Weinstein, GBE.

Who will also likely be needing legal counsel outside of the U.S., it should be noted (and one assumes he may be privileged to learn the difference between a solicitor and a barrister).

And this is the sort of case or client that does not seem particularly attractive for those free to choose something besides a fat pay check - 'Given his infamously belligerent personality and predilection for public meltdowns (including one tantrum where he allegedly put out a cigarette in a plate of lox on a craft services table), it’s perhaps unsurprising that disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein has been on less than great behavior in the months leading up to his trial. He has reportedly had fights with members of his legal team, leading at least one of his lawyers to quit, and a dispute over payment led to at least one female lawyer on his team to choose not to work with him, despite his repeated (and very charming!) requests to hire a “skirt” to represent him.' https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-news/harvey-weinstein-trial-lawyers-sexual-assault-804901/

'I don’t think this is the right cause for free speech advocates'

Well, the deafening silence in regards to the clear right for private companies to fire employees for their speech is a clear sign that free speech rights are also the wrong cause for free speech speech advocates to get involved in. Which is actually a rare case of MR being on the right side of a free speech issue, particularly in light of how disastrously wrong the perspective here on net neutrality really is.

'It seems to me like a private institution making an entirely defensible governance decision'

See? Private company, private institution - identical in terms of free speech.

'on a matter which does quite genuinely fall under its governance purview'

And for a man that wrote a love letter to shark like entities, there is no way he will ever say that big business is prevented from firing an employee for any reason, including speech (which again, is absolutely correct).

Just in case anyone isn't up on p_a's unique stand on free speech, he believes firing someone for their speech is exercising free speech while criticizing that firing is anti-free speech. If you question this he will claim you want government control over speech and that the principle of free speech is solely about government not making laws against speech. Whether this is dumb and illogical I will leave to the reader

'he believes firing someone for their speech is exercising free speech '

No, this is (again) a blatant misrepresentation. Firing someone involves an employer exercising the right to terminate employment. And in an at will employment state, an employer requires absolutely no reason at all to terminate an employee.

'while criticizing that firing is anti-free speech'

An even more blatant misrepresentation, as any American citizen is free to criticize any company for any reason at all. Including calling for a boycott, which any American is free to do, for any reason, against any company they wish.

'If you question this he will claim you want government control over speech'

So, a truly laughable misrepresentation, seemingly based on the fact that at least one commenter here is unable to distinguish between free speech and private employment.

'and that the principle of free speech is solely about government not making laws against speech'

Finally, something that at least approaches reality, as the 1st Amendment of the Constitution only applies to law making and government action involving speech.

'Whether this is dumb and illogical I will leave to the reader'

Most readers are fully aware of how dumb and illogical these misrepresentations are, which is why there is no reason to link to all the other times this peculiar and misleading 'explanation' has been explicitly rejected as incorrect.

Your aggressive stupidity was probably a factor in the termination of your employment from George Mason as a public affairs paper pusher. Anon upthread takes it too far.

However, you’re a buffoon if you think legal standards and cultural norms are separable.

We’ve gone over this a hundred times.

Things can be both condemnable on the level of principle and legal.

What I really think breaks your GMU educated brain is this : Things can even be condemnable on principle and yet the legality is not only defensible, it’s imperative.

Hence free speech is a cultural norm, as is freedom of association. Harvard is fully within its rights, and Yet some believe Harvard should be condemned for sacrificing principle to the mob.

But link a few articles about how the 1st amendment only applies to government. As if that were even remotely relevant.

'Your aggressive stupidity was probably a factor in the termination of your employment'

An apparently unkillable lie also, regardless of how many times it is pointed out as a lie.

'you’re a buffoon if you think legal standards and cultural norms are separable'

I still have faith that the legal standard in the 1st Amendment will withstand cultural norms, at least as long as the Constitution is the law of the land. Hate speech is not possible to criminalize in the U.S.. regardless of how many people want to make it a crime. However, no home owner need allow someone into their house to listen to someone else merely because the other person claims a right to be listened to.

'Things can be both condemnable on the level of principle and legal. '

Clearly - but condemning a legal action because for whatever reason one thinks the action is actually illegal is condemnable because it is wrong.

'Things can even be condemnable on principle and yet the legality is not only defensible, it’s imperative.'

Absolutely - so call for a boycott of any company who acts in a way you do not approve of, and use your 1st Amendment rights to attempt to change that company's behavior. Welcome to being a citizen in a free country, by the way. Unfortunately, freedom does not come with a guarantee that anyone else will care about your calls for a boycott, but you are welcome to try regardless.

'Hence free speech is a cultural norm'

No, free speech is guaranteed by the 1st Amendment, and has never affected what private people are required to do. A home owner has zero obligation, in their own home, to ever have to listen to someone else, merely because the other person claims that there is a cultural norm of free speech that prevents a home owner from telling someone to leave.

'Yet some believe Harvard should be condemned for sacrificing principle to the mob.'

And they are more than welcome to do so - unless they start to bleat that somehow, a private institution needs to justify its decisions to anyone else.

'As if that were even remotely relevant.'

So, you honestly think that Harvard's actions somehow pose a danger to democracy? Thankfully, the 1st Amendment completely protects your rights to protest against Harvard in ways that allow you to change Harvard's behavior.

In precisely the same fashion that another group of people did the same thing, actually.

I must admit this loses me.

1. If white students had complained that they felt threatened and disrupted because Mr. Sullivan worked with Michael Brown's family, would you equally argue it was OK to remove Mr. Sullivan from his position? If the two cases are different, what is the difference other than your differing perceptions of the merits of the individual cases? Almost certainly the Michael Brown case involved more media scrutiny and potential for conflict than does the Weinstein case.
2. Don't you want your most prominent professors involved in the most nationally relevant cases? Did Harvard punish Dershowitz when he was involved with OJ or is on CNN commenting on about, well, everything? I would argue Harvard loved it, despite the disruption, because it kept Harvard's name at the center of nationally relevant issues.
3. I think there is a fine line between being sensitive to your students' concerns and allowing a small group of students to weaponize insecurity. I think we are well over that line.

Indeed, and Tyler's conclusion that "giving in to the demands of the mob is not an endorsement of the mob's views" is likely to prove to be cold comfort if he ever inadvertently says anything heterodox enough to bring the protesters after him.

Tyler is very careful. That suggests he knows this full well

100% agree with Coyote’s comments. Students and other people in society who mobilize mob protests are essentially just a bullying mob. In this case its a pseudo-woke cause of #metoo (they claim) but they really seek vengeance, retribution and harm to others. Really...think about it, what’s the outcome here? Telling a defenseless attorney he can’t represent a client because YOU don’t like that client? Or trying to damage his livelihood...because YOU (students) don’t like the client? Of course they throw in their own narcissism and make it about “social justice” or other issues but strip all the superficial stuff away and that’s what this is about.

Love how you use the term mob, particularly where you end up.

However, let us try to write that sentiment from the perspective of the people that actually wrote the Constitution, 'Students and other citizens in society who mobilize citizen protests are essentially just peaceably assembling for a redress of grievances.' So how easy it was to replace 'bullying mob' with actual words from the Constitution? Admittedly, that 'peaceably' is important, but it appears that the students at Harvard were peaceable.

Generally speaking, American culture has had a bias in favor of lawyers being allowed to take on unpopular defendants as their clients (e.g., John Adams successfully defended the British soldiers accused in the Boston Massacre). Whether after 250 years we want to end that bias should be debated.

'Glorified RA' isn't a decent definition of a House Master, as the title was until very recently, in a healthy house.

Inane excuse-mongering. No surprise there.

A faculty member at my law school was a well-known expert in the federal rules of civil procedure, and he was often engaged by large corporations in federal litigation, often litigation by David against Goliath. His job was to exploit the rules to benefit Goliath (i.e., the large corporations); in other words, to gain an advantage on a legal technicality. Was his representation of Goliath resented by the students or did it create a distraction for the students? Hardly. Students flocked to his course in procedure because he was an obvious expert, as evidenced by his work for Goliath. Of course, his work for Goliath sometimes created a distraction for the professor: Goliath paid a much higher rate than the students.

I should add that this professor's TA was a highly sought after position, even though everyone knew that it meant extremely long hours and few weekends off. The payoff was that the TA often worked on real-world cases, some notorious, and expected to be heavily recruited by large firms with what lawyers call a motions practice (cases that went on endlessly with the lawyers filing motion after motion in attempts to gain advantage on legal technicalities until, finally, the party with the greatest disadvantage as a result would relent). Not my idea of a good time, but many federal judges are often selected from the (highly regarded) lawyers with a motions practice, because they are considered the intellectuals of the (practicing as opposed to teaching) lawyer class.

Harvard was OK with him when he was defending Aaron Hernandez, but that was just murder. He wasn't a part of the latest cultural moral panic.

And wasn't Harvard OK making some woman who murdered her own child a professor. That's not distracting.

If you make it so defending certain individuals in court gets you blacklisted, then large swaths of people won't be able to get good representation in court. This is pretty obvious.

It seems to me that if you dismissed a TA involved in the Edward Snowden case you would be failing in your obligations as a citizen. I'm actually having a very hard time believing a LIBERTARIAN would say this. "I want to control government abuse of power...but I don't want to actually stand up for anyone that actually attempts to control government abuse of power."

What a two bit sell out. You are the hack voice of the establishment and don't ever forget it.

If there is a problem with the "distraction" affecting performance, that can be dealt with through normal channels (performance reviews).

Look, lawyers have to defend unpopular people, and they need good representation just as much as cultural heroes.

I don't know how you can adequately defend someone, though, holding down several jobs at once, without having one of them suffer.

Perhaps the lawyer wasn't doing much, but was just a poster child, just as hiring Alan Dershowitz or Larry Tribe brings an aura to the case...basically a signal based on the reputation of the institution.

Harvard has an opportunity to signal as well...if its their reputation which is being "rented".

As for me, I think it is an advantage if Harvard is seen as having hired people who defend unpopular people.

Get over it. It's the jury, and not Harvard, that ultimately decides.

Sullivan is quite impressive:
"Sullivan began his teaching career at Yale Law School where he won the law school's prestigious award for Outstanding Teaching. He was recruited by then-Dean Elena Kagan to become part of the Harvard Law School faculty.[3] He teaches first year criminal law and upper level criminal procedure at Harvard Law School, where he is the director of the Criminal Justice Institute. He continues to write on the subjects of criminal law, criminal procedure, democracy, and race.[4]

Sullivan serves as a Faculty Dean of Winthrop House at Harvard College, where he lives with his wife (fellow Faculty Dean of Winthrop House, fellow Harvard Law School instructor, and Class of 1994 Harvard Law School alumna Stephanie Robinson) and two sons. He is the Director of the Criminal Justice Institute at Harvard Law School,[2] where he serves as "a real live criminal defense lawyer for clients who can't afford one."[5] Sullivan also oversees the January term Trial Advocacy Workshop, an intensive three-week course for Harvard Law School students, featuring assistance from high-profile lawyers and judges from around the country. Sullivan is also a founding fellow, along with his wife, of the Jamestown Project,[4][6] is actively involved with community organizations in the Massachusetts area, and regularly gives speeches and moderates panels on race-based violence. Sullivan also now serves as the official faculty advisor for Harvard Law School's chapter of the Black Law Students Association.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ronald_S._Sullivan_Jr.

Interestingly, he has a history of taking on high profile cases while serving as an RA. So, why treat this differently?

If Harvard was OK with him serving in an outside capacity for other matters, why is this one different other than the defendant.

It looks, though, that he will be losing some housing but will be staying on his teaching duties.

Rumor is that he is being replaced, in his dorm capacity, by Rudy Guilliani who is also being recruited for the same position at Liberty University.

Harvey Weinstein and his legal team is quite unimpressive, actually, as noted in the Rolling Stone link above - 'On Wednesday, State Supreme Court Justice James Burke, who is overseeing the Weinstein case, called Cogan to tell him that Sullivan and Baez had “a significant trial set before him to commence in early June.” (Weinstein’s trial is set to start June 3rd.) This was in spite of the fact that Cogan was set to hear the Nordlicht case on April 19th, which was expected to run at least two months and would have overlapped with the Weinstein trial.

Cogan was reportedly furious, and essentially accused Weinstein’s legal team of manipulating him and Burke to buy more time for the Weinstein trial. “Not only did Mr. Nordlicht’s attorneys fail to advise this Court of their competing obligation when this Court reset trial for 4/15/19, but they attempted to push the trial date for this case a month later, which would have ensured the conflict,” Cogan wrote.

In court on Thursday, Cogan refused to delay the Nordlicht case, despite the overlap, and further upbraided Baez and Sullivan, telling them that “judges tend to know when lawyers are playing judges off of each other.” In an even more punitive (and honestly kind of badass) move, he instructed Baez to print out a transcript of the hearing and deliver it to Burke, as well as personally call Burke to apologize.'

Professor Bainbridge provide a conservative perspective in support of Harvard: Essentially, if Harvard wants to market itself to snowflakes, it made the right call. He does not argue whether this marketing decision enhances Harvard's reputation but that is already rapidly withering anyway. https://www.professorbainbridge.com/professorbainbridgecom/2019/05/an-argument-that-harvard-made-the-right-decision-by-firing-faculty-dean-representing-harvey-weinstei.html

Novel perspective compared to this thread. Most perspectives tend to assume that Harvard has the "power" here, but part of this is really whether folk who will likely have to become criminal defenders will really see Harvard as an attractive place to build a career. If they make a misstep that moves them away from being able to attract talent and genius, that's probably a good thing.

Two points about lawyers. First, lawyers take cases not causes. Indeed, a lawyer who takes a cause is not the lawyer the cause should hire: to be effective, a lawyer must be detached. Second, our system of justice is the adversarial system: two advocates representing their respective parties (the accused and the accuser in the criminal context) before an impartial judge or jury who must decide the truth and pass judgment accordingly based on the advocates' efforts at persuasion. If the two advocates are not of roughly equal quality, the decision of the impartial judge or jury is inherently flawed (i.e., the outcome is not justice). Thus, the system has a bias for representation of the accused by the best available advocates: to deny the accused the best available advocate is to deny justice. One might question whether justice is ever possible in the adversarial system (because no two advocates are ever of equal quality), but it's our system of justice.

Much writing, but ultimately nothing more than a tired defense of a heckler's veto.

Suppose the students were upset merely that Mr. Sullivan was black. He would still distract from their studying. Maybe a number of them have had traumatic experiences at the hands of black men (after all 42% of rapists are black per Bureau of Justice stats) so maybe the racial distraction was rational to some extent. Perhaps it would be best if black men did not have such direct positions of authority over students in these circumstances.

And on it goes. After all in most of the world, atheists are deeply distrusted and studying under one may well be distracting for international Harvard students from devout societies. Women are highly distracting to students from patriarchal societies (e.g. in Saudi schools women can only instruct men from behind visual barriers for this reason).

I could buy cases of national publicity being problematic ... except that Harvard has literally nothing about such things in their faculty guide. Nor does there seem to be any shortage of Harvard faculty enmeshing themselves in controversies (e.g. BDS).

At the end of the day, you cannot police for everything someone might find distracting. The standard all but begs for duplicitous use.

And ultimately these are HARVARD students. Are they not supposed to be the elite of the elite? Are they not supposed to literally become wolrd leaders. How exactly are they set to rise to these standards if they cannot deal with "largely symbolic" position they find distasteful? Perhaps Harvard might try using their "personalty" screens less for racism and more for finding some level of grit.

Well said.


And Tyler would never, ever have written this if the guy was fired for defending James Comey. "No enemies to the left."

"I could buy cases of national publicity being problematic ... except that Harvard has literally nothing about such things in their faculty guide."

This - surely Harvard bears a great deal of responsibility for the minutiae of employee codes of conduct everywhere, and the "work" of HR departments. So it is exasperating as usual to find there is one standard for the rest of us and another for them: no clear guidelines in his employment, as to what sort of outside legal work he was permitted to do?

Is being "dorm dean" an honor or a burden? Because it sounds dreadful, like something you'd agree to do to demonstrate your commitment early on, but that you'd want to shed as soon as possible. Perhaps he'll be relieved to let it go.

But if it was a coveted position, it will surprise me if we don't hear any more about race in this connection. I scanned the long Harvard Maroon article detailing the "turmoil" and turnover at Winthrop House under Sullivan's tenure. A suggestion that he played favorites (unusual, in academia ... ?) and had underlings "work late at night" beyond their house duties. Who knows, he does seem to have a lot of irons in the fire. Story and comments suggested a possible fracturing of an always shaky alliance: black students/faculty more suspicious of the criticism of him, while to the general activists, hewing first - always - to a feminist template, he was a mean, threatening boss.

"dorm dean" is a burden. I once had an RA who continually fell for the same prank. We'd put saran wrap outside his door, and line the inside with tape. Once a week, we'd watch the door swing open and him kind of tumble through doorless frame.

so we can expect more fraughtly funny/fraudulent
harvard "climate" review scams
+1 postmodern/Marxist
looks like we gonna need more coffee

Harvard is a private organization and can make personnel decisions as it pleases. And yet, this decision makes the world a worse
place by creating an incentive for top lawyers to avoid unpopular defendants. Small incentives can have big consequences. Harvard acted in a way that minimized their
own hassles at the expense of creating this socially damaging example and incentive, and they should be taking some heat for it.

The core of Yglesias' argument is this absurd, outrageous passage: "To infer from Sullivan’s representation of Hernandez that he’s pro-murder would be to attribute something outlandish to him, whereas to infer from Sullivan’s representation of Weinstein that he agrees with many op-ed writers, cable news talking heads, comedy show bookers, and others that today’s young women have become excessively puritanical in their view of sexual harassment is far less of a stretch."

Without that, Yglesias' defense of Harvard collapses.

Because without that, Sullivan is simply doing what all defense attorneys do: they defend their clients. They don't have to believe that their clients are innocent; that the law under which their client is charged is bogus; or anything else. They are simply trying to ensure that the govt proves its case.

Correct, but suppose those are Mr. Sullivan's views. So what?

Does merely believing have overly puritanical views mean that Mr. Sullivan is incompetent at enforcing whatever standards Harvard employs? Does this mean that he will not give female students due consideration?

Even if everything Mr. Yglesias implies about Mr. Sullivan were true ... it is still tantamount to libel to say that Mr. Sullivan, even in that circumstance, cannot behave professionally and still enforce the standards he is contractually obligated to defend.

Why, exactly, does Mr. Ygelsias believe that Mr. Sullivan cannot put aside his own viewpoint and enforce the written rules of Harvard?

Again I come back to, the only defense here is that Harvard students are utterly incapable of dealing with minor adversity that anyone in the rest of life finds on daily basis. How often do police hold stereotypes? How often do plaintiffs plead in front of judges who disagree with the legislatures decrees upon which the plaintiffs defend?

The delusion of liberal bastions that one must not only enforce some code of conduct, but that individuals must also "believe" it is spurious in the extreme.

Whatever else is being said, Cowen et al. are basically saying that Harvard students are not able to set aside their positions, so once again a black man must be deemed incompetent to be professional to slake their insecurity.

+100. I read Yglesias' article until, yes, my head started to explode.

Here's another insidious claim:
"And given the nature of the resident dean job and the ongoing social dialogue around sexual assault and sexual harassment, undergraduates had some real reasons to wonder where Sullivan stands."

Lack of credibility is, for Yglesias, kind of his thing:

a) he has openly admitted on twitter to attempting not to publicize arguments, irrespective of how much truth he judges them to contain, if they don't support his side; he's not even deluded about his partisanship

b) on sexual misconduct / assault issues specifically, he has in the past proposed abandoning the presumption of innocence, and Blackstone's Formulation ("It is more important that innocence should be protected, than it is, that guilt be punished") in order to juke the numbers

Wrong, wrong, wrong. The only reason they cared is because weak-minded brats complained that they felt “unsafe” because words are violence, blah, blah. And giving into that bullshit only emboldens its purveyors. In the current atmosphere of utter stupidity of this sort I can’t believe Tyler wants to yield to it. It won’t be long before his colleague Robin is banned from setting foot on an Ivy League campus.

A cogent point, to be sure; so much so that I am pleasantly surprised to find it at least nominally came from the brain of none other than Matt Yglesias. I didn't think he had it innim, the brain I mean.

However, I feel we are falling back into the same old habit of ret-conning logical arguments onto liberal actions. Has any Harvard student complained that Sullivan's actions have caused a distraction in their academic lives? Has Harvard elucidated an expectation for their house masters to focus on the goings-on of their respective colleges? Perhaps this is just the subconscious motivation that drives their publicized reasoning that no one can defend a declared enemy of the para-state, even in a courtroom. (That's Not Who We Are.™)

Let's not make arguments on behalf to justify Harvard's and its students' behavior. They're quite smart enough to speak on their own, after all, it's Harvard! Let them tell us why they favor un-personing Sullivan.

I think you are all misinterpreting this post. It's not about Harvard, Sullivan, or Weinstein.

It's Tyler explaining why he won't write anything that might be perceived as antagonistic or critical of campus third rails like Black Lives Matter. They may be referenced in oblique ways, but are sure to be couched in sufficient fog or vaguery to avoid the mobs that tenure won't protect him from.

Not a profile in courage but of survival. I don't blame him but I do admire him less now.

Your argument is specious. That is not WHY Harvard removed him. They removed him because of his association with Weinstein.

Harvard would not make a similar decision if a Dean chose to fight Alabama's abortion law. In fact, they would herald it.

This is sleazy, pure and simple. It is capitulating to loud activists. If I were Harvard president I would stand by him and tell students they can leave if they dont like it. And students who disrupt academics or dorm peace over this would be expelled. This is not free speech, it is a lynch mob.

Future president John Adams defended British soldiers accused of murder at the Boston Massacre. James Donovan defended Russian spy Rudolph Abel. These men were doing their jobs defending liberty.

Weinstein is likely a criminal dirtbag, but in each and every charge against him he deserves a fair trial, and defense counsel is crucial to that. Defense lawyers can, and indeed must, seek out opportunities to advance justice. Weinstein is a hated man in America and few lawyers would take his case.

Most people charged with serious crimes are bad people who have terrorized and victimized others. Many have done much worse than Weinstein. It's hard to imagine a principled rule that bars representing Weinstein but permits representing an accused murderer, terrorist, or drug dealer.

Whoops, I think I caught something:

"Now, I don’t doubt that Harvard may have acted for what in part are the wrong reasons, namely asymmetric treatment of left-and right wing causes and cases."


"Weinstein is a longtime supporter of and contributor to the Democratic Party, including the campaigns of President Barack Obama and presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and John Kerry."

So what, Weinstein and Sullivan become honorary right-wing because "the left" is after them?

That might be a bad way to pick your heroes.

By the way, my resolution for 2019 was to care much less about what Harvard does.

Not really, but it would have shown foresight.

You think the 'right-wing' is pulling for Weinstein now? He's just example 100,001 of the left's hypocrisy and despicableness.

See, that's the thing. While I don't really care about Harvard, and I can see the argument for broad legal education, that's not how you are approaching it.

For you, some random Harvard students become not just stand-ins, but signifiers, for "the left." The entire left, and anyone who isn't sufficiently right.

Tyler approaches the discussion in this way as well.

Student insurrection (without reference to left or right) versus education would have been a better formulation, including because prominent voices on "the left" have come out against "coddling."

"For you..." You are projecting. I didn't say anything about 'some random students'. Harvard should know better. Harvard chose to go the woke route and this is just another left on left mugging. You brought up the right-wing reference where the right wing is clearly not even involved.

Shorter: If prominent voices on "the left" have come out against "coddling," and you throw that away, you are less interested in solutions than having enemies.

'Defense lawyers can, and indeed must, seek out opportunities to advance justice. '

You don't know many lawyers, do you? Or if you do, they are pretty much only public defenders.

This is a more accurate description - Lawyers can, and indeed basically always do, seek out opportunities to increase their bank account.

There was probably some fair coin involved. And you'd think Harvard students would actually get that part.

Well, the promise of being well paid, at least.

And Sullivan was on board long enough to apparently help get Weinstein's day in court moved several more months into the future, even if two judges were extremely annoyed at how that happened.

Basically, the sleaze started long before Sullivan got on board, and is likely to continue to the very end.

However, full credit to all the commenters saying a major Democratic Party contributor credibly accused of multiple sex crimes over several decades is a man entitled to having the sort of defense that they feel is not often afforded to those associated with Republicans or conservatives.

Harvard would be on more defensible grounds justifying it in terms of an anti-moonlighting policy, which is common in employment agreements. Otherwise lawyers, as members of a government-chartered guild are not really supposed to discriminate among clients so long as they can meet the obligation of zealous representation. The rationale is that all people are equal before the law and entitled to legal representation, and it's part of the bargain of being allowed a government cartel. Likewise, common carriers, as part of their license, can't discriminate over whose trailer they haul, and lunch counters are for whoever can pay for their food. If you're going to hire practicing lawyers for your Resident POC Dean Faculty Advisor Corps, this is inevitable. I guess they're not hiring any Exxon or Walmart lawyers any more either.

How much does this position pay? Maybe I'll apply.

The whole thing seems an odd fight for Harvard to pick but I guess this is driven by its future donors and the customer is always right.

The message it has sent is terrible. That a university will protect students from being uncomfortable about a lawyer who was chosen by a plaintiff to defend him. The fact that Sullivan was some "glorified RA" is precisely why he should have been left to deal with the fall out - offered an amazing teaching opportunity about the legal system in the US. Then again, the fact that Harvard Students are snowflakes unable to deal with the vagaries of life is not surprising - let us recall how Jeannie Suk wrote about her inability to TEACH LAW to LAW students - her piece in the New Yorker is a reminder that universities like Harvard have lost their ideals in education - they seem to have concluded that protecting students against uncomfortable ideas is more important than education. Astonishing and yet seems commonplace today where education has deteriorated to the point of being worthless. https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/argument-sexual-assault-race-harvard-law-school

Perhaps one aspect is that law itself is in less repute.

To the extent that lawyers are seen as people who say anything (even to the highest legal offices in the land) it lessens the idea that a defense of Weinstein will be noble.

I am not a fan of the legal profession - which in my opinion is less about "legislation" and "law" than about politics. if indeed we, as a country, has decided that there is indeed no such thing as a "law" and that the "legal profession" is nothing but a place for scoundrels and rascals to go fleece money off others - fine, then hey let's state that clearly. We can then appoint some board to decide who is OK to be defended and who can be railroaded into a jail cell (or something like that). The Sullivan case (IMO) is indeed about a university caving into bullies and snowflakes and ignoring what I consider important aspects of an education - learning about the crazy world we live in where even odious people like Weinstein are to be defended because of the ENORMOUS power of the institutions that are able to bring action against citizens. No, what Khurana (and Harvard) did was send a terrible message to students about the world we live in and that Harvard cares more about protecting feelings than anything else or education. If the same thing were to happen to some left wing radical accused of some crime and right wing students were to protest AND if someone from Harvard were to be asked to defend them AND if that Harvard lawyer were to be dismissed or some such, then sure - let's all look to mobs for figuring out what to do before we do it


"How come every time I answer the question, “What is Barr hoping to get out of this?” and I answer, “a seat on the Supreme Court,” does it surprise anyone?"


"Harvard and Matt Yglesias are right "

Harvard can be within their rights, and still be wrong. Yglesias was right, but for the wrong reasons.

(1) I suspect much if not most of the argument is not against Harvard so much as against those who defend Harvard for the stated reasons that they defend Harvard, namely that defending someone accused of rape hurts sexual assault victims.

They are right in that a house dean should exemplify all the civil virtues, including both protection for victims and protection for the accused.

(2) With all due respect, I think the "distractions" defense is a bucket of warm spit. The top universities, especially Harvard, love faculty and staff with famous "distractions". Just that some distractions are, in some people's eyes, more lovable than others.

(3) On top of that, having “snowflake” students in the dorm is still a reason to make Sullivan choose either the dorm or the legal case — complainers don’t always have to be correct for their wishes to have some validity. It really is about helping students focus on their studies, and sometimes that might mean removing distractions which distract for maybe not entirely rational reasons.

I think I see the point you're making. But I see it as still giving in to the mob. Of all places, an elite university most of all is in the business of training the young to set aside some of their emotional instincts to further a higher good. It's called civilization.

(4) Go single-sex, and then I'll start to believe you're focused on eliminating "distractions".

Summary: Just an example of the takeover of Academia by nut cases from the non-STEM evolving insanity. The social sciences and humanities with their pretenses of knowledge (non-reproducible nonsense) are going off the deep end while the STEM areas of Academia are lifting humanity out of poverty towards the stars.

"Maybe Harvard would have been unfair and inconsistent had another, non-Weinstein defendant been involved, still that does not make Sullivan’s dismissal the wrong decision."

I guess jurisprudence isn't Tyler's thing, because this is indefensible reasoning. Suppose the university announced that it will investigate anyone who represents black defendants, or Republicans, and if the defense is a distraction from their other duties, they will be fired. In Tylerland, this counts as just, because dismissal for cause, which is just.
However, there are no investigations of people who represent whites, or Democrats, and this too is just, because a private institution can do whatever it wants. But in fact, private justice, like public justice, requires treating equals equally, the actions I have described are unjust.

Was Harvard the Law School that hired some bint who feigned being a Cherokee?

Exactly! Harvard's answer was ridiculous to that inquiry in which they stated that Warren's claim to American Indian ethnicity never factored into their hiring decision. Harvard Law School failed Federal Law, and obviously, does not respect the great diversity they tout.

Exactly! Harvard's answer was ridiculous to that inquiry in which they stated that Warren's claim to American Indian ethnicity never factored into their hiring decision. Harvard Law School failed Federal Law, and obviously, does not respect the great diversity they tout.

I'm curious what, if any, outside employment, consulting, or other business activities are generally protected by academic freedom at Harvard? If such business activities are not protected, then what is to stop Harvard from similarly punishing a professor for activities such as publishing in a commercial press? Furthermore, Cowen's argument doesn't seem to hinge on Harvard's status as a private institution, so, by his own logic, what's to stop George Mason from punishing him if students felt that Stubborn Attachments or Marginal Revolution were too controversial and therefore too distracting?

'I'm curious what, if any, outside employment, consulting, or other business activities are generally protected by academic freedom at Harvard?'

'Academic freedom' is only relevant in connection with tenure. And the conditions of tenure - such as whether one needs to inform the university about outside employment for example - is undoubtedly covered in what is called the faculty handbook at GMU.

'Furthermore, Cowen's argument doesn't seem to hinge on Harvard's status as a private institution'

Of course it does, as noted in this quoted text - 'It seems to me like a private institution making an entirely defensible governance decision.'

'what's to stop George Mason from punishing him'

The 1st Amendment of the Constitution, basically, which forbids the government from using speech as a criteria for punishment. However, the Mercatus Center could undoubtedly remove its chairman and general director in a few seconds or hours, if it felt the need to do so.

It may not exist in other countries, but the 1st Amendment creates some interesting distinctions between private and governmental entities. A fact that is undoubtedly known to Prof. Cowen, but not so clear to many, including a number of Americans.

(Punish is a relative concept, however - for example, the GMU econ dept chairman could show displeasure at something done by a tenured faculty member by requiring that faculty member to teach 3 intro classes, or to simply pass over various requests for funding - after all, no dept is rich enough to fund all faculty requests. On the other hand, welcome to the real world, the one where institutions have always played favorites, or made life unpleasant for those out of favor.)

"They are right in that a house dean should exemplify all the civil virtues".

Good Lord. In a university older than Harvard I once held a job that I guess was, at least roughly, equivalent to "house dean": my title was "warden". If anyone had suggested that I should exemplify all the civic virtues the response from every witness would have been derision. I was there mainly to keep the building upright and the rents paid.

Look, it's just a bloody university not a monastery.

Well then I guess this controversy would not have played out at your old university.

Whereas at Harvard, some students felt that the house dean should exemplify the civic virtue of sympathy for sexual assault victims.

To which I say yes, but not at the expense of defending the accused.

" I guess this controversy would not have played out at your old university."

It wouldn't then. Now - oh all too likely. International snowflakery has the whip hand.

what I don't understand is why Prof. Sullivan is still allowed to teach, given that he is "so distracting to the students' studies." Or be present within, say, 100 feet of any place of student living/learning.

sadly, Sullivan's tenure cannot be revoked at this point (despite there being a strong case for terminating any pre-tenure faculty who poison the university's learning environment as he has).

but I don't think tenure includes a right to certain teaching loads or unlimited access to campus facilities. so Harvard needs to stop the craven half measures and give their students the full protection they deserve.

'but I don't think tenure includes a right to certain teaching loads or unlimited access to campus facilities'

Nope - but it entitles him to his full pay check, even if he does not teach, and of course it is unlikely he actually ever had 'unlimited access to campus facilities.'

In this thread, comments by angry Harvard rejects.

> It seems to me like a private institution making an entirely defensible governance decision, on a matter which does quite genuinely fall under its governance purview.

This is the best and most accurate framing of this situation!

Right for the wrong reasons is a dodge that supports the premise. Minimizing of distractions is important if case involvement is shown to be an impediment to Sullivan's duties. Use of student complaints as a litmus for duty distraction is not linear. Students complian about each other, administration fees, professors, tuition, admission practices and more. I also see the narrative of "Weinstein's defense" as misleading. Something like 97% of criminal cases resolve by guilty plea. I don't want to presume but Weinstein has damn near confessed in public by saying that he needs help. Putting sincerity aside, the case will likely resolve by guilty plea. There is absolutely nothing morally apprehensible about a licensed defense lawyer participating in fair sentencing mitigation practice. Taking a step back, there is nothing morally apprehensible about a licensed defense attorney participating in the use of laws and rules established to promote due process. Sullivan shouldn't be singled out as the red herring for for any issue that Harvard or any institution takes with the laws, rules or procedure proclaimed to promote due process. I see that as the real cop out. A failure to address perceive incompatibility of justice and fairness with a scenario working its way through Western Decomcracy's conceptual structure of Justice System. This incompatibility is was disenfranchised groups and non-dominant power groups face on a continuous basis.

I wonder if the people who were against admitting women to Harvard are around to feel vindicated?

Malia Obama took a gap year to intern for Harvey Weinstein. Mr. Weinstein gave big money directly to campaigns or PACs backing former President Barack Obama in his two bids for the presidency. Does her action not disqualify Malia from attending Harvard?

I struggle to find any logic in Tyler's rationale. What happens when a George Mason University student finds some of his actions gross and unacceptable? Will he allow himself to be judged by the mobs? It is pure argle-bargle by which anyone can show how Sullivan's legal advice has eroded his ability to discharge his duties at Winthrop House.

A fine Harvard graduate, John Adams, once defended some unpopular British soldiers charged with murder. Adams got six of the eight acquitted and two reduced sentences. He later became president.

Where does this madness end?

The problem is that you want to defend Sullivan's right to do this when it is most distracting. That's the point.

In what ways was his role in the case impinging on his capacities as Dean of Winthrop House? Was he or his wife failing in their joint roles of helping students of Harvard? Who gets to determine his appropriate workload? He seems like an indefatigable talent, doing plenty for Harvard, while maintaining an active professional practice. Is the Cowen / Yglesias preference for the administration to determine the suitability of cases for the lawyers in its employ? I find it to be the height of arrogance for people like Yglesias to dictate the actions of someone; "a criminal defendant doesn't have a right to Sullivan's services", while ignoring that Sullivan does have the right to represent whomever he so chooses. Yglesias is making a case based on his presumptions of Sullivan's workload, responsibilities and priorities and then judging him lacking because of the person he's representing. Where was the outrage when, in 2016, Sullivan was representing convicted murderer Aaron Hernandez? He's been faculty dean since 2009, over which time he (according to his wiki),

"e is the Director of the Criminal Justice Institute at Harvard Law School, where he serves as "a real live criminal defense lawyer for clients who can't afford one." ... also oversees the January term Trial Advocacy Workshop, an intensive three-week course for Harvard Law School students ... is also a founding fellow, along with his wife, of the Jamestown Project, is actively involved with community organizations in the Massachusetts area, and regularly gives speeches and moderates panels on race-based violence ... also now serves as the official faculty advisor for Harvard Law School's chapter of the Black Law Students Association."

The complaints I've seen (from the dreadful NewRepublic) come from his supposed appearance as a bad-faith actor when having to interact with female students of Winthrop House, as a consequence of his defending Weinstein. This doesn't seem to be a principled case based on actual dereliction of duty by Sullivan, rather it's apparent that it stems from the defense of an 'indefensible' at this unfortunate political/cultural moment in time.

According to reporting it isn't just the Weinstein thing (although that is what brought the situation to a head)


" Several former staff members in Winthrop — including Kohn and former tutor and interim resident dean Kip C. Richardson — said they had a very positive experience working with Sullivan and Robinson during the first several years of their tenure as faculty deans.

They said that changed in early 2016.

In the span of three months, a House staffer stepped down allegedly under pressure from Sullivan and Robinson, three tutors faced threats of dismissal, and 13 tutors threatened to quit in protest.


When discussing the challenges staff faced while working for Sullivan and Robinson, every current and former Winthrop affiliate interviewed for this article referenced former House staffer Heather S. Grant.

In 2015, Grant transitioned from working as the Winthrop dining hall manager — a position she had held since 2009 — to the House Administrator position.

Grant was a central part of Winthrop House, according to Richardson. A 2016 report sent to Khurana by former Winthrop Undergraduate Council representative Daniel R. Levine ’17 stated that Grant was “often touted by students as one of the house’s greatest assets.”

As a House Administrator, Grant was responsible for managing students’ rooming assignments, special events, and the House’s budget. Several months into her tenure, she began bringing concerns about Sullivan and Robinson to College administrators, according to six former House staff. They said they often saw her working late into the night performing tasks they believed were for the personal benefit of the faculty deans.

Eight former students and staff members with direct knowledge of the situation said they believe Sullivan and Robinson retaliated against Grant because she brought concerns about them to administrators in University Hall."

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